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The Legend of the Other King Who Came too Early



Waiting for new stars

At the end of "The Madman" in The Gay Science Nietzsche writes in exasperation:
"I come too early,” he said. "I am not yet at the right time. This prodigious event is still on its way, and is traveling--it has not yet reached men's ears. Lightning and thunder need time, the light of the stars needs time, deeds need time, even after they are done, to be seen and heard. This deed is as yet further from them than the furthest star - and yet they have done it themselves!”

To arrive too early: initially and for the most part this means to come at a time when the important event which the coming came for has not yet come. Or it means that regardless of the preparations made and the anticipations felt for and of the event, it is to come to the admission that one can only prepare and anticipate and never willfully start the commencement of what comes. Or simpler, to arrive too early is the same as to not have arrived at all. In a word, to arrive early means to wait.


The Birth of Christ

Behold, three magi from the east traveling across lands and seas. All that guides them is a star with the longest tail man has seen; a star which heralds the coming of the king of all times and places. Bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, the three sages arrived in Jerusalem asking, "Where is this newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage." The nervous Herod sent the three wise men to Bethlehem asking that if they find the newborn king that they bring it to him so he may also pay homage to the babe.

One night the three kings came to that place where the star had stopped and shone as bright as ever. It was the place where the child was born. Upon seeing Mary and her baby, the kings knelt down as they have never done in their majestic lives. They offered their precious gifts which they thought were still humbled by the presence of the king of all kings.

Unaccustomed to such a show of benevolence and respect, Mary also prostrated herself and thanked the three wise men for such wonderful gifts. "You have bestowed my son great honor with your company and gifts," Mary said. "I just hope that I had also spoken to the other king who left us with another gift." Since the three kings thought that they were the only ones who followed the star to its resting place, they asked Mary, "Who is this other king of whom you speak and what did he give?"

"I do not know his name as I did not even see him," said Mary, "but when we arrived in this place, we saw this gift waiting for us in the manger." Then Mary showed the three sages the most intricately sculpted wooden cross they had ever seen. "That is very beautifully done, my sweet majesty," said one king holding the small but precious cross." Another said that it must have been made by an excellent craftsman. But the three agreed in their thoughts that the cross was no gift from a wealthy king and more so a gift befitting for the king of all kings.

W
hen the three sages left, they did not return to Herod because they saw in a vision that he would do harm to the newborn king. The three, as legend has it, disappeared and were never to be seen again. The same could be said about the king who came too early and who could not even stay to present his gift himself.

But more than thirty years later, the three kings, much older and weaker when they first sought the king of all times and places, traveled together again. A beautiful black star had risen in the east and the three saw in their dreams that they were to follow that star again to where it would stop. Instead of bringing riches and gold, they brought with them the most excellent food from their lands and clothes made from the finest furs because they felt that the king of all kings no longer needed from them homage but their help. The black star warned them that the king of all kings was dying.

After years of journeying and following the dancing black star, they arrived to that place others called Place of the Skull. A crowd of people had already gathered and the three weary kings knew that they arrived too late. Unable to make their way through the crowd, they asked a passerby what was happening. "A man named Jesus who calls himself the king of the Jews is to be crucified," the passerby said. The three kings suddenly realized that it was the child king they honored once in Jerusalem that was to be nailed on the cross. And when they looked up at the hill against the darkening afternoon sky that had already swallowed the black star, three crosses were placed side by side.

They saw the now old Mary at the foot of the cross in between the two other crosses when they fought their way through the cheering crowd. Mary was prostrated and weeping. Above her was a broken and bloodied and dead body. They recognized the man on the cross as the child to whom they offered gold, frankincense and myrrh. "How could this be," asked one king, "that the king of all times and places, the king who was to rule all men as the prophecies had foretold, that the king of all kings now hangs dead on the cross?"

The other king who had been staring at the dead Jesus against the blackened sky suddenly remembered something and said: "We brought the finest gifts kings could give to the child king. But the other king who came before us offered the greatest gift a man could give. Mary has finally found the king who came too early. She is at his feet."



The Death of God

Nietzsche also says in the "Madman":
"Whither is God?" he cried; "I will tell you. We have killed him---you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not staring as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him."


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