At first glance, the birth of Princess Charlotte to Will and Kate in May this year may have seemed a much more impressive and important event than the birth of Jesus Christ, which we celebrate at Christmas. For example, unlike Princess Charlotte, Jesus was:
Born in a manger not in the media
Princess Charlotte’s birth was very public. She was born in the media spotlight, it was a worldwide phenomenon, with every detail known. We know, for example, that she was born on Saturday 2nd May this year, at 8.34am precisely, weighing 8lb 3oz. News of her birth was broadcast on TV around the worl, and famous landmarks like the London Eye, Tower Bridge and Trafalgar Square were lit up pink to proclaim her birth.
In contrast, Jesus Christ was born in an obscure place, in a country a long way away, a long time ago. We don’t know the exact time and date of his birth or how much he weighed. And apart from his parents, only shepherds and animals saw him as a new-born baby, lying in a manger – not in the media.
Born into poverty, not riches
As a member of the Royal family, fourth in line to the throne, little Princess Charlotte was born in comfort and security at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington. Princess Charlotte will receive police protection throughout her life, and will enjoy the best things money can buy. In contrast, Jesus was born as the son of a carpenter called Joseph. His humble family had little money and little power. They were subjects of the Roman Empire, forced to travel to Bethlehem in Judea to complete Emperor Caesar’s census. Compared to Princess Charlotte, Jesus was born into poverty not riches.
Born to be persecuted, not popular
Political and religious leaders from around the world welcomed the birth of Princess Charlotte. From the Prime Minister to the Archbishop of Canterbury, everyone important was grateful for her arrival. But Jesus Christ wasn’t so popular with the powerful. Shortly after he was born, jealous King Herod tried to have him killed, and throughout his life the religious and political leaders of his day persecuted him. Finally, when Jesus was about 30 years old, the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate had him executed by nailing him to a Cross on the first Good Friday.
So compared to Charlotte, Jesus was born in private, in poverty and into unpopularity. But appearances can be deceptive. The truth is that the birth of Jesus was more important, more worth celebrating, than Princess Charlotte’s last May. Our Bible reading from Isaiah this morning gave us some reasons why:
The Child given by God!
Firstly, Jesus is the baby given by God. In one sense, of course, every new-born baby is a gift from God. But Jesus was extra special. He was sent by God on a special mission, a rescue mission, from Heaven to earth. He was a gift from Heaven to Earth. He was the Son of God sent to live among us and save us. There may have been no newspapers or TV channels to tell the world of Jesus birth, but God sent a star to show the place where Jesus had been born, and he sent his angels to broadcast the news of his birth to the world.
In fact, Jesus’ birth was first announced even before he was born! Hundreds of years earlier, God had spoken to men like Isaiah (who wrote our Bible passage today) and told them that he would send his Son Jesus to be born and what he would be like. Amazingly, Jesus’ biography, his life-story, was written before he was born!
The Baby with the best names!
Princess Charlotte’s full name is Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge. That’s quite a long and impressive name! But Jesus was the boy with the best names ever. Jesus wasn’t given his names by his parents, or even by the Queen - but by God! In our Bible reading today Jesus is called “Wonderful Counsellor, Everlasting Father, Mighty God and Prince of Peace”. Even Princess Charlotte can’t match that!
The King who can save!
Its possible that one day Princess Charlotte will become Queen. But even if she does, she won’t rule forever. One day she will be replaced by her own son or daughter. But our Bible reading tells us that Jesus is better, because he is the King whose reign will have “no end” – it will go on “for ever”. We know this is true because after he died on the Cross, Jesus rose again to life on the first Easter Sunday, and ascended up into Heaven, where he rules for evermore.
Few of us will get the chance to meet Princess Charlotte face to face. But the Bible promises that one day we will all get to see King Jesus face to face - what an awesome encounter that will be. But we need to get ready to meet King Jesus. Not by putting on special clothes, but by asking him for forgiveness and a place in his everlasting kingdom. He promises to answer us “yes” if only we ask.
One day, if Princess Charlotte becomes Queen, everyone will sing: “God save the Queen”. But Jesus is better, because he is the King who can save us! If we ask him, King Jesus has the power to make us God’s friends forever - that’s something worth singing about!
I hope we’ve learnt this morning that Jesus was the baby given by God, the boy with the best names, and is the everlasting King who can save us. That’s why we still celebrate his birth each Christmas!