There was once a great King of Persia. He was not only powerful but also wise and just. Under his rule the whole kingdom flourished and enjoyed a golden age. One day, however, the king decided to take off his royal robes and disguise himself as an ordinary subject. By chance he found his way down to the very bottom of the palace where he met the stoker who tended the fires which kept the palace warm.
He was dirty with smoke and grime from tending the fires but he invited the stranger to stay and talk. They struck up a conversation and the disguised king returned many times over the following weeks and months and they became firm friends.
Eventually the King felt he really ought to reveal the truth. Taking off his disguise he revealed his identity and offered the stoker a gift of his choosing. The stoker replied, ‘My Lord, you have already given me the most precious thing this world could afford – your friendship – I ask for nothing more.’
At Christmas we celebrate an even more wonderful story. The true story of how God himself took off His royal robes and came down among us, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. By living the perfect life and dying the perfect death, He now offers us the most precious thing this world affords; a friendship with the King himself.
Perhaps you have never given much thought to the Christian faith. It has always seemed to be a matter of strange rituals and/or strict rules. Why not think again this Christmas? Is Jesus who He claimed to be? God himself come in the flesh to meet you and me?
Perhaps, like the stoker you have always known and believed there is a King. Perhaps you have given much service and done many things for the King. But that is not enough for the God of the Bible. He wants nothing less than to know you personally. He has gone to infinite lengths to make that friendship possible. Will you receive Him and ask Him to come back and visit again?
Or perhaps you would rather have the King’s gifts than the King’s friendship. Many people today welcome God’s blessings (health, wealth, family and a happy life) but keep God himself at arm’s length. The abbreviation for the Church of England is the ‘C of E’, but ‘C and E’ religion is all too common – giving God a polite nod twice a year at ‘Christmas and Easter’!
May God give us grace to settle for nothing less than a living and life-changing friendship with the King.