Monday, February 17, 2014
The Little Prince
"For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government
will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty
God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his
government and peace there will be no end" Isaiah 9:6-7
When I saw this statue in Barcelona, Spain, I thought how very unusual -- to see a queen holding her baby up on display in such a manner. Isabella II was Queen of Spain in 1857 when her son Alfonso XII was born. She seems to be quite proud of this little prince who is just beginning a life of royalty and great promise of a bright future as king.
What a contrast to the infancy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of being dressed in fine clothing, living in a grand palace and being held up for the world to applaud his introduction to the world, the birth of Jesus by way of a young Jewish girl was humble in every sense of the word. A simple stable, straw-filled manger and homemade swaddling clothes greeted this little guy.
As to "applauding his introduction to the world" -- well now, that was special indeed. The fanfare produced by heaven to announce Jesus' birth eclipsed the greatest display of fireworks you could imagine. Scripture gives us a scant two-verse description to whet our imagination: "Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men'" Luke 2:13-14. And while this is an amazing introduction, it was very contained -- only experienced by a small number of shepherds. The "world" was totally unaware of what had just happened to planet earth.
How about the "life of royalty" enjoyed by little Alfonso from the moment he arrived on the scene -- how does that compare? Jesus grew up in the simple home of a carpenter, a stay-at-home mom and a number of brothers and sisters -- all together in a small house. There was nothing royal about Jesus' surroundings, but royalty resided within Him in a way that no prince or king or queen of this earth could ever hope to achieve. It reminds me a bit of the story of "The Prince and the Pauper," where the true prince is living in squalor, while the pauper is living in the palace. The deeper message of that story fits this situation well.
Then we have that "great promise of a bright future as king" that surrounded little Alfonso as he was held up in his Mother's arms. At the young age of 17 years, Alfonso became King of Spain. He was considered a good king who cared about the needs of his people, but he died of an illness at only 28 years old. His was a short life and a short reign.
While Jesus was rejected by the people during His earthly sojourn, His bright future as King is assured and of His kingdom there will be no end. Revelation tells us: "...He is Lord of lords and King of Kings..." and "On His robe and His thigh He has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords."
No statues were erected to celebrate and memorialize Jesus' birth 2,000 years ago. Instead, a cross was erected and used to sacrifice His perfect Self as a payment for the world's sins. On the arms of that cross, Jesus was held up for the world to see and the amazing gift He offered to each of us on that day will only be fully realized when we see Him again in heaven some day.
As benevolent a king as Alfonso appeared to be, most people have never even heard of him. His life began with such bright promise, but ended with barely a blip on the world's timeline. Yet, the life of a little Jewish baby that began in poor circumstances, is the pivotal event on the timeline of the entire world. The gospel record of His life and teaching within the pages of the Holy Bible have made more impact on the peoples of this earth than any words or statues or teachings of any monarch who ever lived.
I like the song we sing at Christmas that says, "All hail King Jesus, all hail Emmanuel. King of Kings, Lord of Lords, bright Morning Star...."