PASTOR’S CORNER, David Harris, Fellowship Baptist Church, Liberal

“Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!’ And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.” (Mark 11:1-11, ESV)

As he enters Jerusalem, Jesus no longer is going to play quiet about who he is. No more will he hush the crowds. Jesus is the king, and everyone is about to hear it. Excitement is building! Everyone is talking about Jesus: at home, in the marketplace, in the street. They are all wondering “Is this our coming king? Is this the Messiah? The passover is just a few days away. Will he make a move?”

The way Jesus comes is significant. Zechariah said this would be a lowly king, riding on a donkey (not a war horse). Jesus knows riding the donkey will be a way of saying the Messiah that Zechariah promised has arrived.

But the crowd’s praise was empty. The “save us” cries ring out as the people cite Psalm 118. It seems as if the people are finally getting on board with who Jesus is. It seems as if they want him as their king. After all, look at what they are doing! Look at what they are saying! They want Jesus as their king, don’t they? But notice what happens next.

Verse 11 ends the account with an abrupt departure from Jesus. Jesus comes to the temple, looks around, and leaves. He doesn’t plan a revolt. He doesn’t set up a throne. He doesn’t call for the heads of rulers. Mark is foreshadowing what the rest of passion week has in store.

Toward the end of this same week, crowds will be lining the streets, but this time they won’t be shouting “save us!” They will be screaming “Crucify him.” They will be watching Jesus’ procession, not into the city on a donkey, but out of the city under a beam.

What is Mark getting at with this narrative of the triumphal entry? Not all who acknowledge Jesus’ kingship are interested in Jesus’ kingdom. The crowd wanted Jesus, but a Jesus of their own making, a Jesus who did what they wanted. They thought they could get a Messiah on their own terms. But while Jesus, the humblest man of all (because he is perfect) will be abused and even killed, one thing he will not be is exploited: he refuses to have his purposes hijacked.

But it is not only Jesus’ contemporaries who can have a wrong view of the Messiah. Has Jesus failed to meet your expectations?

Acknowledging Jesus as King means to we need to accept life in his kingdom. This is not a life of all the answers, a life where everything makes sense, a life without disappointment. But it is the only real way to live, because there is coming a day when all evil and suffering and sorrow and sin will be put down by our king. Taking Jesus as your king, in the end, does not mean having a religious force that you control – a spirit being whom you tell what to do. Those who come to Jesus do so out of trust letting him tell them what to do, because they realize it’s worth it.

Maybe you are not a Christian but you are interested in Jesus. This can be a problem for religious people who want to do good works in order to place God in their debt. But Jesus didn’t come for the self-righteous (Luke 5:32). If you are interested in Christian like it is another religion – like it is a way to get God to owe you something, then you are not really about to walk into Jesus’ kingdom.

Or you are not religious, but you are spiritual, and looking for spiritual teaches. Perhaps you want to “follow” Jesus as ancient wise man with good advice and amazing insight. But Jesus didn’t come to give advice: he came to die for your sin. And following him on his terms means repenting and believing. Jesus may be someone interesting, but at the end of the day he may be unwanted in your heart.

But you may be wondering – “If Jesus will only be king on his terms, what are they?” Jesus would be a king through his self-giving sacrifice to reconcile us to God. Those who follow him by turning from their sin and living a life of faith in his work for them become a part of that reconciliation.

Do you know why Good Friday comes after Palm Sunday? It was all part of God’s plan for the way Jesus would become King. Jesus died on the cross because it was God’s only plan to destroy sin and evil without destroying us. The crowd shouting “Hosanna!” Was not asking for too much, but too little. Jesus does not fail to meet our expectations because he exceeds them.

Palm Sunday always implies a question: will you receive Jesus for who he really is? He invites you into his kingdom, into the company of those who live under his rule with full forgiveness in this life, and eternity with God in the next.

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