Day 1, Sunday: Palm
"Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee."
A king of great fame you might expect to waltz into a city in a parade of luxury, proceeded by a train of dancers and servants and exotic animals. Or perhaps such a king would march in power, leading a charge of triumphant soldiers and captive war criminals. Jesus, self-proclaimed Son of God, must surely have more riches and power than any king of earthly pedigree, so why didn’t he come bespectacled in fine clothes, boasting in the spoils of war? Why did the King of kings come “humble, and mounted on a donkey”?
His own people, the Jews, surely didn’t expect such an anti-climactic show. They hailed Jesus with palm branches, declaring him the Messiah, come to overthrow the godless, sinful powers that ruled the day. Their Old Testament told them that the Messiah would come and make an end of injustice, dispel the air of its Hellenistic darkness, cleanse the land of iniquity, and put the enemies of God to death. What they didn’t realize, however, was that the Romans weren’t the only enemies of God in the land. The Greeks were not the only ones polluting the air with their lusts. No, the Jews themselves, the very people from whom the Messiah came – they were the enemies of God too.
They wanted a King to come in righteous anger and judgment, but they didn’t realize what they were asking for. If Jesus would have been such a King, the Jews would have been swept away along with the Romans, no less sinful than they. But instead, they are told, “Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey.” He comes not in judgment, but in humility. He had every right to come and put an end to us all, estranged children of God. But he didn’t assume that right.
Instead of judgment, he offered forgiveness. Instead of condemnation, he offered redemption, offers that still stand today. He came humble with no blade or bow. He came as a pauper, with nothing to his name but a borrowed beast of burden. And it was grace that brought him in such manner, a manner which, though gracious, declared the Jews to be sinners in need of forgiveness, not victims in need of political deliverance.
He came for you in the same manner. Will you receive this King, though he declares you a sinner? You – church-going, Bible-reading, devout Christian – will you receive a Savior who tells you that today, this day, you are no better in your own righteousness than your godless neighbor? Will you receive a Messiah who says you are the enemy? Or will you crucify him?
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This blog is written by the authors of Cypress Press, meant for the creative illustration and application of God's Word.