The King Came in Rags
Our righteous, suffering King came to be crushed and made a grief offering in order to count sinful people like us righteous (v. 10–11). Jesus was numbered with the transgressors and bore the sins of many in order to intercede for us before God (v.12). Our mighty King will indeed make kings shut their mouths (Isa. 52:15). Yet, he also came to quiet the hearts of those who are longing for mercy, justice, and peace. God has heard our sighs and groans that are too deep for Words. We have a Savior who entered into our sinful world in order to free us from the guilt and pain of sin.
The words “Christmas” and “Advent” hearken many memories. In one moment, we picture solemn evening worship services with candles, hymns, and Scripture reading. In another moment, we envision Christmas dinner parties, gifts, and cozy treats. We may also imagine a sweet little baby in a manger being cuddled by his mother as the shepherds come to pay homage. As grandparents travel cross-country or across county lines to see their grandchildren, memories are made during the Advent season. For many, these are the reasons Christmas is considered to be the most wonderful time of the year.
Focusing on the spiritual meaning of Advent, another common image is that of a coming King. We sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King!” And rightfully so. The Scriptures teach that God would send a great King to lead his people. We rejoice in the majesty and glory King Jesus brought with him as he entered the darkness to shine as a beacon for the nations. We celebrate his grandeur and mighty power as we should. Yet, we would be equally blessed to celebrate his humility.
Our King came in rags.
The King and His Coming
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is a beloved song that reminds us to bring “glory to the newborn King.” The newborn in that manger is the King of whom God said, “I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill” (Ps. 2:6). Though the kings and rulers of the nations rage and take counsel together against God and his people, God laughs. He laughs because, like the stereotypical school bully, these kings and rulers don’t realize there’s someone bigger and stronger around the corner. They haven’t eaten their spinach, but they think they’re Popeye. God has a terrifying word to speak: “I have set my King in Zion.”
This King—the one and only eternal Son of God—has the whole creation as his inheritance, and he perfectly reigns as God’s King (John 3:31–36). Jesus will break and dash to pieces all the kings, rulers, and nations who oppose him (Ps. 2:9). Yet, God has not left them without an opportunity to repent. He has given us all the opportunity to serve him with fear, rejoice with trembling, kiss the Son, and take refuge in Him. Blessed are all who take refuge in him (Ps. 2:12).
The promise of refuge in Christ is a joyous gift from God. We need refuge from the injustices around us. We need refuge from the corruption in a world that is groaning and decaying. Most importantly, we need refuge from God’s wrath toward the sin inside us. That’s when such a promise can seem so distant from us. Sure, God can save others, but not me. My life is too messy. I fail too often. My sin runs too deep. We are often well-acquainted with our sin, so we wonder if such a majestic King would ever stoop low enough to reach someone like us.