Posts Tagged ‘Jesus as king’

Today is Palm Sunday, so named because the crowds placed palm branches on the path before Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem. Let’s read this story, as it’s found in Mark 11:1-11.

This is sometimes called Jesus’ triumphal procession. It was quite a sight – Jesus on a donkey, crowds putting clothes and branches on the road and praising God, saying “hosanna,” which means “praise God for salvation.”

But –

What does this all mean?

We have six clues:

1. This event comes right after the story of the healing of blind Bartimaeus, where Bartimaeus called Jesus “Son of David;” a royal title in reference to the Messiah. And Jesus accepts this.

2. That Jesus rode a donkey connects to when Solomon was anointed King of Israel – 1 Kings 1:33-34. David said, “have Solomon my son ride on my own mule . . . And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet there anoint him king over Israel.” Jesus presents himself to Jerusalem as David’s son, come to be king, just as Solomon did.

3. Riding on a donkey connects to Zechariah 9:9, a prophecy that talks about the coming royal Messiah. This verse says, “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Jesus is saying, “I am the one spoken of in this prophecy.” Matthew and John make this connection explicit by quoting this verse.

4. That people laid down their cloaks connects with the anointing of king Jehu – 2 Kings 9:12-13. Jehu said, “Thus and so the prophet spoke to me, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, I anoint you king over Israel.’ ” Then in haste every man of them took his garment and put it under him on the bare steps, and they blew the trumpet and proclaimed, “Jehu is king.” The crowd knew this custom and so understood and accepted, at least here, that Jesus was coming as the king of Israel.

5. The words of the crowd in v. 9 are a praise to God for the king/Messiah. They say, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” This comes from Psalm 118:25-26, which says, “Save us (Hosanna)! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” The crowd is applying this royal, Davidic, Messianic psalm to Jesus. He is the one who comes to save.

6. The words of the crowd in v. 10 show that they are expecting David’s kingdom to be established. They say, “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” – Mark 11:10.

So what is going on? Jesus is presenting himself as Messiah and King to Jerusalem. “Here I am ,your Lord” If he was cautious before, because it wasn’t his time. Now it’s all out in the open. “I am the promised one, long predicted in the Scriptures, and I have come.” He has come to be received as king and Lord. A response is expected.

But let’s also notice that –

Jesus is a different kind of Lord

Most kings (dare we say politicians, even today?) are power hungry, arrogant, self-interested and try to get what they can get out of their power and position. Right before this parade into Jerusalem, Jesus said, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them” – Mark 10:42. They seek “to be served” – Mark 10:45.

But Jesus is nothing like this. And this is why Jesus was so careful with the imagery of kingship. He didn’t want people to misunderstand what kind of Messiah and king he is.  We can see this difference, even in this triumphal entry.

  • Most kings are proud, but Jesus is a humble king. He came riding on a donkey. He didn’t even have his own animal. He had to borrow one.
  • Most kings seek to be served, but Jesus is a servant king. In contrast to the rulers of the Gentiles, Jesus said, “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” – Mark 10:45. He is not in it for what he gets out of it. He is in it for us; to save us.
  • Most kings use force to ensure their will. But Jesus is a vulnerable king. He could have come with angel armies to take the city. But he used no force. He let people choose whether they would accept him or reject him. And sure enough, just as he predicted most eventually did reject him.

Well, just as he presented himself to these people 2,000 years ago –

 Jesus presents himself to us as our Lord

He continues to seek those who will receive him as king. And he is here among us to present himself to each of you this morning. How will you respond? Will you receive him as king? Or reject him?

Jesus is the king of kings and the Lord of lords, who sits at the right hand of God in glory. 1 Peter 3:22 says, Jesus “has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.” As Philippians 2:9-11 says, “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord

Jesus is indeed the king of kings. But remember what kind of King Jesus is:

  • He is the alpha and the omegathe first and the last, but he is also humble. He will not try to impress you or make a big show of things.
  • He is the Lord of glory, but he is also a servant. He has given you much more than you will ever give him having laid down his life for you.
  • He is the bright morning star, but he has made himself vulnerable before you. So you can choose. And you can reject him if you like.

I put it before you today – How will you respond to Jesus?

Some of you need to respond to Jesus as your king and Lord, because you’ve never done it, or you haven’t gone public with it. Jesus waits for your response, even this morning.

Some of you have responded to Jesus in the past, but you have walked away from him. You may have claimed him as Lord at one time, but you know that you’re not living like he is Lord. Jesus is right now waiting for your response

What will it be?

If this is your situation, I want to invite you to pray this prayer. Listen to it first – “Jesus, I acknowledge that you are Lord and I want to submit my life to you. Cleanse me of my sin where I have not followed you and guide me in your ways. Give me your power so that I can live like you want me to live from now on. Amen”

This is the right response to Jesus. This is where to begin.


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Today is Palm Sunday, the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem, several days before he died on the cross. I want us to think about this story today, as it is told in Matthew 21:1-10. And I want you to reflect on how you fit into this story – ‘What character would you be?’ ‘What role would you play?’ [Impromptu acting out of Matthew 21:1-10]

Jesus comes to Jerusalem as king

This event has great significance, because this is the first time that Jesus explicitly and publicly proclaims himself king. This whole scene is an intentional enactment of Zechariah 9:9 which says, “Behold, your king is coming to you . . ..” Jesus is here coming to his capital city, the city of Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, as Zechariah said, presenting his claim of kingship to Jerusalem and to Israel.

I want to focus first on how Jesus makes his claim of kingship. Kings rule and people obey them. That’s how kingship works, right? Now we know that in the world kings rule through the use of power. That is, because they have power, people are forced to submit. In Matthew 20:25 Jesus speaks of this. He said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them . . ..”

But Jesus doesn’t operate this way. Jesus doesn’t force Israel to submit to him. And so when he enters Jerusalem as a king, he does not come with trumpets blaring, or troops of warriors exercising power to coerce submission to his rule.

Jesus comes in humility, peacefully, and without force – riding on a donkey. He could have come with legions of angels (Matthew 26:53), but instead he simply presents himself and makes his claim on the people – “I am your king.”

And then he lets the people choose how they will respond. This is how Jesus makes his claim to be the rightful king of Israel.

Next, as we look at the story, both of the entrance into Jerusalem and how it plays out leading up to Jesus’ death on Friday, I want us to focus on three responses to Jesus’ claim of kingship. There are three different responses that are illustrated in this story.

1. The disciples – who are very few in number. They choose to submit to Jesus as king.

2. The religious leaders – also few in number. They openly oppose Jesus. Not only do they reject his claim of kingship, they are offended by it and seek ways to get rid of him.

And then we have 3. the crowd. This is where most people are. Those in the crowd are not sure where they stand with regard to Jesus’ claim of kingship:

  • On Sunday, when they thought Jesus could help them they claimed him as king. They formed a huge procession and said, “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is the one who come in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest heaven.” Yeah, Jesus, you are our king. Praise God for a Savior!
  • On Friday, when the religious leaders had Jesus at their mercy, and Jesus was not so appealing anymore, they turned on him and disowned him. “Pilate said to [the crowd], ‘Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?’ They all said, ‘Let him be crucified!’ And he said, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Let him be crucified!’” – Matthew 27:22-23. And they were so worked up that Pilot was afraid of a riot.

So the crowd was fickle, at one time leading a parade to have Jesus be king; at another, nearly rioting to have him killed.

Ever wonder what you would have done if you were there in Bible times? How you would have responded to Jesus? Well, in this case you really don’t have to wonder, because Jesus still works in the same way today.

Jesus comes to us as king

He comes to each one of us and makes his claim on us, “I am your king.”

  • He wants us to recognize that he is our rightful king.
  • And he calls us to complete submission and obedience to him in every area of our lives.

But just as we saw before, he is not like the world’s leaders. How Jesus makes his claim of kingship on us is different. He doesn’t force us to submit. He doesn’t use coercion. He is a different kind of king.

He comes to us humbly to make his claim upon us. He doesn’t overwhelm us. He allows us to choose.

And so the question, like in the story, is, ‘Will we recognize his claim and submit?’ It is in our hands. And we have to choose.

And like in the story, in our lives there are three responses to Jesus’ claim of kingship. And certainly we know from the Scriptures that we are to be like the disciples, because they chose to submit to Jesus as king. They failed for sure, and we will also, but their commitment is there. We are to choose to be obedient to Jesus – our rightful king.

And for sure, we are not to be like the religious leaders, who chose to oppose him, tear him down, cast him aside. This much is clear.

It is the third category – the crowd that is such a stumbling block to so many people. And for this reason I am highlighting it.

  • For here, as in the story, you are with Jesus (at least for a time), when it suits your needs, or if the circumstances are right, or if you are in the right mood, or if it’s the fad of the time and everyone else is doing it. If one of these things is true, then yes, you are for him: “Hosanna! Hosanna! Jesus is my king.”
  • But you are not with Jesus, when it doesn’t suit your needs, or the circumstances are not right, or you are not in the right mood, or if it isn’t the fad anymore and you are the only one. Then you are not for him. He is not your king. And you cast him off, so you can go your own way.

Just as in the story, so today, most people take the way of the crowd. It seems safer because lots of people are with you. It is not so radical, like the religious leaders or the disciples. And if you are wrong, at least you are not a religious leader who completely rejects Jesus.

But there’s a serious confusion here. For in this story both the religious leaders and the crowd made the wrong choice. It is only the disciples, and them only waveringly at times, who chose correctly.

The way of the crowd may seem safe and appealing, but in reality it is no better than the way of the religious leaders. For neither obeyed Jesus as king. This is their common choice. The crowd tried to have it both ways. And you can’t have it both ways with Jesus.

The words of Jesus in the vision of Revelation 3:15-16 speak clearly to the place of the crowd: “. . . You are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

So the exhortation today is “Don’t be the crowd!” Don’t be in the middle with regard to Jesus. Don’t try to have it both ways. Don’t go the lukewarm route.

Don’t be fooled by the idea that at least sometimes you like Jesus and claim him as king. Because part-time submission to Jesus, when it suits you, when it fits your needs may sound better than open and constant rejection, but it really isn’t.

Part time submission is actually a rejection of Jesus’ claim of kingship over you. For submission that is based on your terms, is not submission at all. You are still calling the shots. You are still seeking to maintain control of your life – only going with Jesus when that meshes with your choices for your life.

You can’t have Jesus on your terms. You can only have Jesus on his terms. And he demands everything. This is how kingship works. So I implore you this morning, give yourself fully and completely over to Jesus as king.

He is here among us right now and he comes to you this morning to present his claim on you as your rightful king. Will you choose the right way? Will you give yourself fully to him?

William Higgins

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