If you’re like me, you are a little bit glad Christmas is over. I mean don’t get me wrong, I will miss the lights, the excitement in the face of a child and the way people are more giving and benevolent (at least when they’re not shopping). But the truth is there are aspects of Christmas I won’t miss: the commercialism, the materialism and the consumerism. When Jesus came to this earth, he was born in poverty and obscurity, and he was rejected by his own people. Herod tried to kill him; if that’s not rejection, I don’t know what is. Humility was the one word that could describe his earthly life from start to finish.
We have a tendency to look right past humble things — to forget they are there. Because they are common and seemingly insignificant, we miss their importance. Isaiah says that Christ’s appearance was to many the same way: “They esteemed him not.” His physical appearance was common, and yet there was nothing common about the king of kings.
Zechariah’s prophecy came at least 500 years before Jesus was even born, and yet he saw what others couldn’t — that the messiah would come differently than other kings come. He would ride into town not on a white horse but on a donkey. Christians believe that Christ will return in his second coming on a white horse because of what the Bible teaches, but his first coming was in humility.
A few short years ago, a television show aired titled, “Undercover Boss.” The idea was that a CEO of a mega-corporation would pose as a person who had just been hired by the company, and through his/her relationships with others would analyze his/her own company and employees from the perspective of being the lowest common denominator in the company. At the end of the show, the CEO would praise, rebuke and even bless his/her employees. They usually walked away with more of a respect for the people they employed. When Jesus came, he was the one for whom all things were made. He did marvel at the faith of some, and the unbelief of others. He did bless, and a few times even got angry with the sinfulness of others. He humbled himself and became flesh and blood — the very same nature of that which he had created. Yet he never lost his godly nature. His humility was not because he deserved to be humbled, if anything, he deserved to be worshiped.
Yet, we see him in Mark 11 coming into Jerusalem on a donkey to a town that would crucify him. We see him even today mocked by many. The church he established seems to be under attack by those who believe his words should be interpreted culturally and less literally. His followers are accused of being archaic and desiring to send the world back into the dark ages. His still, small voice is still ever whispering the truth into every corner of the globe while the kings of the earth set themselves against him. He does not raise his voice, but he is not silent. He still rides the donkey, but for how long? How long will he wait to take back what is rightfully his? How long will he allow lesser kings to rule over his lands, his people and his property? Scripture tells us he will not always allow it to be this way, and that he is coming. He is coming with fire in his eyes. He is coming with 10,000 beside him. He is coming in the clouds. He is coming on a white horse. He is coming to take his people home, but also to bring a certain judgment.
The humble Jesus is a popular theme. The glorified Christ is not so much. It will be a terrifying thing to look into the eyes of a spurned king, who has just been given the command to take back what is rightfully his. But the truth is, I long for it. Not because I’m perfect; far from it, but because I think all of creation longs for the world to be made right again. So much injustice will be set right in a moment. So much pain and hurt will be healed. So many tears will be wiped away, and it’s all because the king has returned. This New Year as we celebrate the hope that lies ahead, let us hope for something truly great that has yet to come: the return of Christ. Happy New Year.
Brian Taylor is the full-time pastor of Forest Avenue Baptist Church. He began his ministry in the foreign mission field of Togo, West Africa, serving with the International Mission Board of the SBC. He spent almost a decade serving as a music and youth minister in the panhandle of Texas.