On this day in 1603, Queen Elizabeth I died after 44 years of rule. Elizabeth ascended the throne of England in 1559 after the death of her half-sister, Mary I. When the new queen was coronated in London, the masses lined the streets to cheer her, hoping for better times. From Mary, Elizabeth had inherited a nation teetering on the brink of economic ruin and torn apart by religious strife. Gathering shrewd advisers around her, Elizabeth made strong alliances, strengthened the church, encouraged exploration, and fostered artistic expression. Under her reign, Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe and William Shakespeare penned his enduring works. Dubbed “Good Queen Bess” by her loyal subjects, Elizabeth became one of Britain’s most popular rulers.
Some people caricature God as a medieval monarch: unreachable, immovable, a powerful emperor who rules from an impregnable castle-in-the-sky. Much of God’s activity in the Bible seems to reinforce this concept. He is the Holy One, Lord of Hosts, King of the Universe. With a word, he calls forth light, cleaves a city, topples city walls. Even the fiery, six-winged seraphim mask their eyes in the presence of the Great I Am.
But the scriptures unveil another face of God, awesome in its humility. It is the face of One who removed robes of searing light and plunged into the womb of a modest virgin girl. The unlimited energy of the Father was at His fingertips, yet He volunteered to empty himself to wash dirty feet, make mud packs for blind eyes, and enter Jerusalem on a lowly donkey. The disheveled masses that had felt isolated from God and shunned by the robed pietists flocked to this gentle king like birds to a cool spring. Here was Someone who brought God down from inaccessible heights and made him real, approachable, forgiving.
The title of Oliver Goldsmith’s play, She Stoops to Conquer, could be reworded to summarize the ministry of Jesus the King. He stooped to conquer human hearts with God’s love. Though Christ now rules in glory, His humble example on earth continues to inspire with fresh vigor. And that is the key to His heart-changing power: not that he dazzles us into duty with bombastic miracles, but that “he made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7).