Earlier this week, an heir to the British royal throne was born. Should the monarchy last that long, this child would be third in line to be king. Anticipation over the impending birth was palpable. The media were camped out outside the hospital where the child was to be born for at least two weeks prior to the birth. It was the top news story on television ante, mid, and post partum.
This is nothing new, however. North Americans – even those ‘rebellious’ citizens of the United States – share equally in the western excitement over celebrity. In its own muted way it was always present, but was ramped up significantly with the engagement of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer. It escalated further with the untimely death of Diana, and has continued in its frenzied, Hollywood-like way up to the present.
Our society has a fascination with royalty – but it is a limited fascination.
Why is it limited?
Royalty that acts like celebrity is lauded, but royalty that takes, shall we say, the road less travelled, is ignored.
Consider Jesus. His birth was foretold to be a royal birth, and it delivered (if you’ll pardon the pun). It was little-noticed at the time, but that was overcome when the celebration of Christmas became popular. Even in a secular culture, the celebration of Jesus’ birth (twisted though it can be) is still a big deal, and is a significant part of our fascination with royalty.
But it wasn’t all rosy, was it? Right up to his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus was lauded as a hero. But when Judas’ kiss was given, and the whistle of the whip could be heard, and the sound of nails piercing flesh echoed, all of a sudden, the fascination with royalty evaporated. This is still true: look at your church’s attendance on Christmas Eve, and on Good Friday. Notice any difference?!
The celebration of the resurrection brought back King Jesus’ fame, because everybody likes a happy ending. Yet he falls out of favour again when we carefully and lovingly read his Word in Scripture, which provides challenge as well as encouragement. Jesus, through his Word in Scripture (not just the ‘red letters’, but the entire Bible) can shake us to the core of our being. What he says is not always popular, but because he is God (more than just royalty!), we are invited to obey. We are invited to be more than fans. We are invited to be fully-devoted followers of this royal Son, who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
“Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise! For the Lord Most High is awesome. He is the great King of all the earth. He subdues the nations before us, putting our enemies beneath our feet” (Psalm 47, NLT).