Your Daily Advent Devotional
December 17, 2013
“Good King Wenceslas”
Good King Wenceslas wasn't a king--but he was good!
A tenth-century duke of Bohemia, he became known for his piety and charitable works. After his death, at age twenty-eight, the Holy Roman Emperor proclaimed him a "righteous king."
His reign was notable for the example he set and the example he followed. He set the example of a father looking after his children, especially those in need. In visiting the poor, the sick, and the prisoners, Wenceslas followed the example of his Lord, Jesus Christ.
As Wenceslas followed Jesus, so his page boy, Podevin, followed Wenceslas. The carol has them setting out on a midwinter mission of mercy. As they carry supplies through the snow Podevin's strength deserts him. Wenceslas tells him to walk in his king's footsteps. This makes the going easier, but there is also a life-giving warmth in those footprints that revives the boy, enabling him to keep going.
A fanciful story? Perhaps, but Wenceslas' real life made it believable.
It was a hard time, and the world isn't kind to such goodness in the best of times. He was killed by his pagan brother, whose nickname was "the cruel" and whose given name is probably best forgotten. But Wenceslas's example lives on, in the Christmas carol and in his sainthood, because he followed the best example there is.
According to the carol, Wenceslas tells Podevin, "Mark my footsteps, my good page. Tread thou in them boldly."
Jesus calls us to follow Him as Wenceslas called Podevin. The best way we can possibly do that is by treading boldly in His footsteps, drawing strength from His example, and moving forward together, like page and monarch, like the Christmas Spirit and Christmas, like beloved and lover, like saved and Savior, like humble subject and the original Righteous King!
Those Little Extras
•Wenceslas's mother may have held pagan beliefs, but he was raised by his Christian grandmother.
•John Mason Neale, who translated many hymns we sing today, wrote "Good King Wenceslas."
•The tune is based on an old folk song welcoming spring.
•"Good King Wenceslas" was first published in 1853.
To the Gift Giver
Lord, it's not as if we don't know what we should do. But we live in a world of excuses, under the influence of a great deceiver. Give us the heart to follow in Your footsteps regardless of what others think of us in this life, because in Your footsteps lie the sustaining warmth of real life!
From the Gift Giver
And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. Matthew 9:9
Other Wonderful Thoughts...
Whatsoever one would understand what he hears must
hasten to put into practice what he has heard.
Gregory the Great, "The Father of Christian Worship" (c.540-604)
Let this be thy whole endeavor, this thy prayer, this thy
desire—that thou mayest be stripped of all selfishness,
and with entire simplicity follow Jesus only.
Thomas a Kempis, Author of The Imitation of Christ (1380-1471)
In the footsteps of my Savior I would walk each days
Following ever where they'd lead me,
Close to Him to stay.
Nothing is really lost by a life of sacrifice;
everything is lost by failure to obey God's call.
Henry P. Liddon, English Theologian (1829-1890)
Excerpted from It’s a Wonderful Life © 2013, by Barbour Publishing, Inc., used by special permission granted solely for the use of Christianbook.com.
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