From the Shepherd’s Nook: John Frye

The Joyful King of Riffraff

When Princess of Wales, Diana, gave birth to Prince Henry Charles Albert David (“Harry”), it is reported that a town crier, dressed in bright costume and plumes, rang a huge bell and declared, “Her Royal Highness the Princess Diana has issued forth a second son.” Outside St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, over 300 news reporters and photographers jockeyed to get a scoop. There were two 41-gun military salutes. A child, third in line for the royal throne, was born. Little “Harry” made international news.

Hidden in the shadows of a stable-cave, Mary the mother of Jesus, gave birth in the less than sterile confines for livestock. No paparazzi. No reporters. No headlines in the Bethlehem Gazette. Jesus did, however, have something more impressive than a decked-out town crier. An army of singing angels announced Jesus’ birth. They did not sing to Herod or to Caiaphas or to Pilate. Not even to Nicodemus. The angels sang and spoke to a few powerless shepherds who were considered in that day to be like pick-pockets, con-artists and liars. The angels said, “Go, find Jesus. He is a deliverer for you.” Shepherds were not classy or spiffy. Shepherds were basic; basic humanity. Shepherds were people in the raw. They probably talked about and cursed kings, particularly Herod. They would never dream of being invited into the royal court. The angels urged, “Go, find your king.” We have to trust the word of the shepherds about the angels. And, oh, by the way, the word of shepherds was not valid in court in 1st century Judaism.

A few years later a posse of pagan astrologers (magi) visits Mary, Joseph and Jesus. A starry phenomenon captured their attention. They followed a star for miles in order to find Jesus. They asked around Judea where to find him. As a matter of fact, they asked right in King Herod’s palace halls, “Where is the one who is born king of the Jews”? When they found Jesus, they worshiped him, giving him valuable gifts.

With visitors like these—no count shepherds and rich pagans—who needs enemies?

Amy, a friend of mine, shared a saying: “An expectation is a premeditated resentment.” What is God doing consorting with rural riffraff and Zodiac worshipers? The new Jewish king, surrounded by shepherds and pagans, seems to contaminate his court, to pollute his royalty. Yet, what if…just what if this new little king is happy to be the king of riffraff and be graciously open to pagan outsiders? What if this thoroughly Jewish king, with the blood of David in his veins (and Tamar’s, Rahab’s, Ruth’s), is, in fact, king of the www—whole wide world?

What is God doing? God is rearranging our expectations in order to protect us from resentment. As in last week’s post, I will close urging all us to let Jesus be the LORD of our expectations. If not, we might get caught saying, “He saved others, but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down from the cross and we will believe in him.”

The riffraff line starts behind me. Come, worship our King!

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X