A Humble King
Typically the world’s kings entered their capital city decked out in silver armor, riding pure white warhorses; signifying their power. God’s king rode into Jerusalem the same way he arrived in Bethlehem on the night he was born. Jesus bounces on the back of a donkey, demonstrating humility and peace. Remarkably, the donkey was borrowed, just like Jesus’ first bed; a donkey’s feeding trough.
He is an unemployed, homeless man without an army, or any other visible sign of power. Isn’t it surprising that Jesus, the creator of all things, had no possessions? Earlier on, he had borrowed a boat and a boy’s lunch. One he used as a podium for teaching; the other for miraculously feeding a huge, hungry crowd. And before the week is past, his dead body will be laid in a borrowed tomb.
This is the type of king who rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. His fame, soaring on the wings of perhaps his greatest miracle—raising his friend Lazarus from the dead—has reached its peak, and the crowd, hearing that he was coming to Jerusalem, is at a fever pitch.
Because of the Passover, more than a million people have converged upon the Holy City. As Jesus rides into Jerusalem, he’s surrounded by pilgrims, some spreading their garments on the road while others cut branches from the trees and place them in his path. As he passes, the crowd shouts; “Save now, Son of David! Save now!”
Jesus has previously rejected all attempts to make him king. However this Passover is wildly different. He instructs his disciples to secure a donkey for his ride into the city; signifying that he is the king Zechariah foretold. From this moment on, there is no turning back or away. After this very public demonstration, the religious elite will be forced, either to accept him or reject him, seat him on the throne of their hearts or nail him to a cross.
Jesus knows that before the week ends he will endure the mockery of a kangaroo court, be beaten mercilessly and forced to carry a cross through the streets of Jerusalem. He knows there will be no cheering crowds that day. Yet it will be a week that changes the world. He knows that after he’s dead and gone, he will rise again.
Thinking of Jesus riding on a donkey toward a certain and cruel death, I wonder; “What does this have to do with me on Palm Sunday 2016?”
Then I recall the words, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who…Humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death” (Philippians 2:5, 6, 8).
I have my answer! I am to follow Jesus to the cross, die to myself and become alive in God, then love the world and redeem it by loving and serving.