Humble royalty, royal humility

Unwed teenage mother. Manual laboring father. Homeless shelter.

God. Angels. Gifts.

Humility and royalty. A dichotomy in a Bethlehem barn, slave quarters in the kingly City of David. A foreshadowing of the true nature of the long-awaited messiah.

God with the limitations of flesh. Man without the limitations of sin. A concoction of scandal and miracle that only the omnipotent could blend up.

On earth, kings aren’t meant for feed troughs. Saviors aren’t born in squalor. They may give lip service to the plights of common men, but their place is back at the castle. Their idea of humility is throwing a bone to a pauper from an armored car. They don’t get too close.

This king could not have gotten any closer.

Was anyone among us born more lowly? Is anything about his arrival out of reach? The maker of the highest heights came to earth as the lowest common denominator. He laid down his life from the very beginning. Therein lies his saving power.

He didn’t need the things of this world: the wealth, the knowledge, the connections, the opportunities. He knew there was no life in things apart from God. As such, he was free to be born with sheep and friends with shepherds.

He held not onto his royalty and instead humbled himself in a royal way. As a result, every created thing will one day bow itself before his humble throne.

As prophesied, Christ arrived in the City of David, but only because his father’s donkey didn’t give out before they got there. His actual hometown, Nazareth, was not exactly a zenith of sophistication and culture. “What good can come from there?” asked one early commenter.

This honest observer may have also asked in subsequent years,

“What good can come from hanging out with prostitutes, IRS agents and wage earners?”

“What good can come from always being on the road and never settling down?”

“What good can come from insulting established leaders?”

“What good can come from an execution on a cross?”

No good, actually, unless you’re stuck in horrible habits, rough relationships, hopeless heartache or lasting longing. No good unless your life never stays nicely and predictably in organized boxes.

Then, it may be helpful to believe that God can bring good from the worst of places. That he can begin under the radar wrapped in humility and finish above the sky shrouded in glory. That he can resurrect a life from the depths of hell.

And that he can raise to his right hand a baby who started in a smelly stable.

Kevin W. Thompson is Vice President of Texas Heritage Bank in Leon Springs and a weekly columnist in The Boerne Star. He can be reached at

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