EL CAJON, Calif. (BP)–In 2002 our U.S. president and his wife hosted a state dinner to welcome the president of Poland, his wife and delegation. This was the centerpiece of a state visit and a monumental event planned three months in advance.
Handwritten invitations were prepared for 130 and sent to Polish and American dignitaries. The dinner took place in the beautiful State Dining Room, following a reception and receiving line. Food and flowers were a wonder. The dinner menu contained 13 items. After-dinner entertainment featured vocal jazz because Poland’s president was a great fan of American jazz. No effort or expense was spared to show respect and honor to this visiting head of state.
Compare this ironic example of an understated welcome for a visiting head of state 2,000 years ago. Only a few people recognized Him as a ruler because He began His visit as a baby. There were no handwritten announcements. Only his parents and some shepherds noted His arrival. (Later, some visiting wise men from another country came to honor Him.) He was ushered into a cave-like stable, with a receiving line likely made up of barnyard animals. The only food on the menu was stale bread.
The only way in which the arrival of this visiting king out-classed a modern state visit was in the choice of entertainment. No “Jerusalem Jazz Quartet” on this night. Instead, the heavens outside Bethlehem were filled with angels proclaiming His arrival. That’s one form of entertainment they haven’t been able to duplicate in Washington, D.C.
Isn’t it ironic that when the King of Kings was sent to earth, it was in the most humble of circumstances? In fact, Herod, the human king in whose country Jesus arrived, eventually tried to kill this Heaven-Sent One. He was so threatened by the thought that a new king might be on the scene that he slaughtered all the baby boys under two years of age. King Jesus only survived because God told His earthly father to flee to Egypt.
Why did this “Sent One” arrive in such a humble manner? The explanation for Jesus’ humble arrival on planet earth is based on the purpose of His visit. To understand Jesus’ work is to understand His welcome. To understand His departure is to understand His arrival.
— The nature of Jesus’ work. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus came to enable the lost to be reunited with the God who loves them. Jesus came to serve you and me by exchanging His sinlessness for our sinfulness. He entered this world through the back door of life, as servants in His day always did. To understand the “Sent One’s” work is to understand His welcome.
— The nature of Jesus’ departure. Though Jesus eventually declared Himself to be a king, He made it clear that His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36-37). Though He could have stopped it, He allowed Himself to be framed, arrested, tried, beaten and crucified like a common criminal. Jesus died the most guilty death in history because He carried upon Himself the sins of the whole world. Born in a rock cave, buried in a rock crypt, Jesus departed this earth in the same circumstances in which He arrived. To understand the “Sent One’s” departure is to understand His arrival.
Jesus Christ exchanged His royal robes for the cloak of sin worn by the human race. Though earth did not receive her King on His first arrival, the Heaven-Sent One will be sent yet again to take His rightful place as King of Kings. At His Second Coming, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10). To understand His first coming is to be prepared for His Second.
The “Sent One” entered this world as a servant, lived and died as a servant, and paved the way for us to share in His royalty when He comes again.
David Jeremiah is the founder and host of “Turning Point for God” and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif. For more information on Turning Point, visit www.DavidJeremiah.org.