is this the King_
Looking into these passages of the Triumphal Entry, or the Palm Sunday nearly 2000 years ago, we find something that is a bit difficult to explain.
Somehow in the week between Palm Sunday and Good Friday people go from celebrating Jesus’ coming to Jerusalem by shouting praises and throwing down palm branches to line his path, to chanting crucify Him, crucify Him. So we are left to wonder, what changed so much in those few days leading up to the cross.
During this time it seems many people went from saying this is indeed the King, the Messiah, that we were promised, to asking Is this really the King? But the question is why?
Lets begin by reading this passage in Matthew 21:1-11
The movie, “The Lion King” is one of my all time favorite children’s movies. I have seen the movie so many times that, whenever, I hear the word King, this little lion always pops into my mind singing, I just can’t wait to be a king.
In the song little Simba says:
I'm gonna be a mighty king, so enemies beware!
I'm gonna be the mane event
Like no king was before
I'm brushing up on looking down
I'm working on my roar
No one saying do this
No one saying be there
No one saying stop that
No one saying see here
Free to run around all day
Free to do it all my way
Standing in the spotlight
Oh, I just can't wait to be king!
This little lion cub dreams of one day being a mighty king that can do anything he wants and rule the pride land with his mighty paw, and this is probably the kind of King many were expecting Jesus to be, a mighty King that all enemies of Israel should beware.
The people of Israel had been long awaiting a King who would deliver them and restore the Kingdom of Israel. He would once and for all make everything good for Israel overthrowing the powerful Roman government, and restore Israel as the people of God.
Here on Palm Sunday the people lined the streets to await the coming of this mighty King.
They knew it was the King because Jewish people would have remembered Zechariah’s prophecy that the King would come gentle and riding on a donkey.
So as Jesus enters Jerusalem riding on this donkey they know this is the king, and they chant Hosanna in the highest, which basically means glory to the one who is going to save us now!
They were indeed ready for this mighty King to take a stand.
In Zechariah 9:9-16 We hear what they were expecting.
They thought this is the day that the Mighty King will save us, so they shout glory to the one who will save us now!
But this King is different from what they are expecting, and the Father had a different plan from what they were thinking.
Jesus is indeed a mighty King and even mightier than these people knew, but now he comes gentle and riding on a donkey, and in Luke we find that as he is entering Jerusalem Jesus begins crying.
And tearfully, he says to the people if you only knew what is going to bring the peace that you are longing for. In other words if you only knew what had to happen in order for you to be saved then you wouldn’t be so happy, and he then predicts that Jerusalem is going to be destroyed.
This is probably where that turn came about. This is the reason why on this day nearly 2,000 years ago, we might find people beginning to ask the question.
Is this the King? Is this really the King that God sent to us?
They thought that the King was going to restore Jerusalem, but this King is saying that it is going to be destroyed. Is this the King we have been waiting for?
Here we find that the followers of Jesus simply did not understand. Matthew ends off this Palm Sunday story with the whole city asking, “Who is this?” And It is evident here that even the crowds who follow Jesus don’t understand, as they respond, well- this is the profit from Nazareth.
It is here that Israel finds out, as we often do in our own personal lives, that God simply does not do things the way we want.
Zechariah’s prophecy is fulfilled and it is still being fulfilled, but not the way Israel expected. Here we see a different side of the King, the gentle side, the loving side, and the sad side. Jesus is much more like the mighty lion, King Aslan, in Narnia, who is described as being both terrible and good.
Here we find that our King is coming to exercise his power in a gentle way. When I think about Jesus as this gently powerful King, I think about one of my seminary friends, Jason.
Jason is a big man, whom if you met on a dark lonely street you would be frightened for your life. He has the strong voice, but Jason is one of the most kind and gentle men that you would ever meet. When he preaches, he preaches with power, but with a gentle voice. This is our King- a gentle and powerful King.
In Luke we find a King that pours out his love for Israel in his tears, because he knows that they are expecting an earthly King, but it is a Spiritual Kingdom that is about to be established. And Jesus knows exactly what has to happen in order for his kingdom to be established, and for His people to finally be restored into His kingdom.
Jesus knows that this is simply the beginning of a time when His kingdom will be established, but His people really won’t understand because we are so limited to our earthly vision.
Today we gather together as people much like the crowd following Jesus, that simply does not understand.
We gather to worship a King that is more mighty than we know, but loves in a way we cannot comprehend. We are often like Israel in that in order for us to realize how real our God’s love for us is that the earthly ideas and idols which, we have built must first be destroyed.
Knowing that we often do not understand God’s ways. What should we do?
In the movie Patch Adams, there is a super-intelligent man in a mental Hospital that Patch runs into. The man persistently holds his fingers up and says, how many fingers do I have up. Patch would tell him, and the man would go away frustrated, until one day he explained to Patch the right answer. The man said, I want you to look beyond my fingers, as Patch focused beyond the man’s fingers something happened his vision blurred for a moment and then became clear again, and Patch finally responded with the correct answer,
and He understood that there was more to this world than we can see.
I would like to challenge you this week that there is so much more to our Jesus than we understand. Take some time this passion-week to discover something new about our King either through studying the Bible, talking with a fellow Christian, or reading another book about our King. Look beyond what you know, and I believe that you will indeed be amazed.