The Challenge of Faith
The King Has Come
1As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
4This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5“Say to the Daughter of Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”[a]
6The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. 8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[c] “Hosanna[d] in the highest!”
10When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Hosanna! Hosanna in the Highest!
The King has come…
But there’s a good chance that if I went out of this place, and pronounced that statement, they may start looking around for Elvis. And then, when the truth sank in, they would probably take me away, and lock me up for being crazy.
There’s an episode of the Simpson’s that sticks in my mind. They are trying to prove that Marge, Bart Simpson’s mother, is crazy. During the trial, she is rather unnerved, and bows her head to pray. When she was asked what she was doing, she said that she was praying. When she was asked for further explanation, she claimed she was talking to God. They locked her up. There was no more evidence needed, the proof was obvious. Anybody who claimed they could talk to God has to be nuts.
In this section of scripture, Christ does something which appeared just about as foolish and condemning. Yet it provides for us the most beautiful picture of the Servant King that I have seen in scripture. Here is the Man of Sorrows, going to His doom amidst the cheers of the people. The same people who, in less then a week, would be screaming for His death, are trying to crown him as their king.
The King has come.
What does that mean to us, people? When I say those words, my heart jumps within me. There’s an expectation in my heart that is bright and scrambles to shine, with every little thought and hope.
But what did it mean then?
Who were these people, and why was what Jesus doing such a remarkable act?
How did they know, that the King had come?
This is the public offer of Himself as their King and the rulers, of course, reject it. He is no longer mixing among the people and teaching them. That had already ceased. This is now an act which He performs as a fulfillment of prophecy. He is offering Himself to the nation. This is not really a triumphal entry. He came in through the sheep gate, quietly, during His public ministry. All through His public ministry, He tended to withdraw from the crowds. Now, when His public ministry is over, He does the most public thing He has ever done. He steps out publicly and presents Himself.
Jesus was not an attention hog. He never sought out the crowds or publicity. It was other people that sang His praises. It was those who he healed and those He set free that went to other towns and along the roads, announcing His arrival, and His amazing deeds.
The triumphal entry and the demonstration in the temple together constitute a clear and public challenge to them to face up to an impressive messianic claim which being presented in deeds rather than just with words.
It was never Christ’s words that affected crowds positively, it was His deeds. He performed amazing works and miracles with such elegant simplicity.
His words scared them, occasionally revolted them, and always left them filled with wonder and awe. But it was because of His deeds that they followed him in droves. Likewise, it is our deeds, more then our words,that should tell the people around us who we are.
Without some kind of confrontation of this kind, the Gospel we share lacks life and is even dead. But, in today’s world politically correct world, confrontation has long out of style, particularly on the religious front. But confrontations which are the result of our deeds are hard to argue against. It is action, not words which speaks the loudest. What is it that you do, that would get you branded as a Christian in public? Is it that big Bible that you carry around with you? Is your smile, or your confidence which always fills your speech with good words? Is it your fish bumper stickers? Or is it that you choose not to speed? Is it the tract that you leave on the table in the restaurant, or is your kind words to the waitress, and the generous tip you leave?
What bold statements can we allow our deeds to make? How should we live our lives?
The King has come.
Are we prepared? Are we ready for change?
For hundreds of years, the coronation of a new king was a huge event for most of the world. Overnight the entire kingdoms’ religious, political and even personal lives could change. Kings could control how much money you had, how much food you had, and how you worshipped your God. A good king meant prosperous years and enough food to eat. A very good king might even allow you to choose your own religion. A bad king meant starvation and poverty. A very bad king usually meant death – whether in wars, or in some cases, at their own hands, and sometimes, even just for their entertainment.
In our case as Christians, we have a king who offers us peace. He offers us rest, healing and love. He is good and true and strong and gentle.
Are you ready for the changes he could bring to your life? Do you want changes in your life?
25O LORD, (AK)do save, we beseech You;
O LORD, we beseech You, do send (AL)prosperity! 26(AM)Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD;
We have (AN)blessed you from the house of the LORD.
v. 15; from Zech 9:9
The cry of Hosanna! is a Hebrew word (hoshi`ah-na) that had become a greeting or shout of praise but that actually meant "Save!" or "Help!" (an intensive form of imperative). Not surprisingly, forms of this word were used to address the king with a need (cf. 2 Sam 14:4; 2 Kings 6:26). Furthermore, the palm branches the people carry are symbolic of a victorious ruler (cf. 1 Macc 13:51; 2 Macc 10:7; 14:4). Indeed, in an apocalyptic text from the Maccabean era, palms are mentioned in association with the coming of the messianic salvation on the Mount of Olives (Testament of Naphtali 5). The cry of Hosanna! and the palm branches are in themselves somewhat ambiguous, but their import is made clear as the crowd adds a further line, Blessed is the King of Israel! (v. 13). Clearly they see in Jesus the answer to their nationalistic, messianic hopes. Earlier a crowd had wanted to make Jesus king (6:15), and now this crowd is recognizing him as king in the city of the great King. Here is the great dream of a Davidic ruler who would come and liberate Israel, establishing peace and subduing the Gentiles (cf. Psalms of Solomon 17:21-25).
This wasn’t a spiritual declaration. It was a political one. They saw Christ as their salvation not from sin, but from Rome.
How often do we do the same thing? We don’t see who Christ really is, but instead see Him as who we want Him to be. We want God to work things out our way, while He has other plans for our lives. The Hebrews hated the Romans. They were sure that their service to them was just as bad as living in Egypt was, and they were sure that a political solution would arise, and they would be led forth again, just as Moses had led them out before.
What are the circumstances in your life that you are looking for freedom from? Do you want healing from an addiction or illness? Are you looking for freedom from a horrible relationship or a difficult financial situation? The answer can be found in Christ, but it isn’t always the answer we are looking for. Christ did come to free the Israelites, but not in the manner they supposed.
There are certain important omissions in the quotation in Matthew which a careful comparison will reveal. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion” is omitted. Why? Because our Lord is not coming into Jerusalem for that time of rejoicing. That will take place at His second coming. Also omitted is “he is just, and having salvation”—the word salvation has the thought of victory, which will be fulfilled at His second coming. The conclusion to be drawn from these portions is that at His second coming there will be a true triumphal entry.
There is so much yet to come. God only now gives us tastes, hints of the unending pleasures and riches to come. He does not tempt, but he woos us gently like a suitor would woo a woman, stolen kisses gentle, only hinting at the rich desire and passion hidden underneath. He courts us gently, knowing that were we to see the fullness of His overwhelming and fabulous whole… we would cower before him, never daring to lift our eyes to his face. We would run from him. Peter had it right – “Away from me, for I am a sinful man” If we don’t have the ability to comprehend people walking on water, or feeding five thousand – then what makes us think we will see the wonders which we know he can do? No – this is all yet to come! Everything we seek – and so much more.
A painting of the Crucifixion shows three empty crosses. The bodies of the crucified have been taken down from the crosses and lie in the tombs. In the background is a little donkey eating on a palm frond. What a message! The discarded palm branch and the Cross are the tokens of His so-called triumphal entry. Where is the crowd that cried, “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord”? They may be the same crowd that on the next day shouted, “Crucify Him!” Now they are gone, and He is in the tomb. You see, He offered Himself to them publicly as their King, but He was rejected.
And the question remains… what will you do with the one called “Christ”? the King has come, and now you must decide. Each and every one of us, every day, must decide – today, whom Shall I serve? Myself? It’s an easy answer to be sure, but it rarely makes me happy. Usually, in serving myself, I run out of money too fast, and my house gets messy. And living in that environment is no way to be satisfied. Never mind the fact that ice cream and chocolate only satisfy for so long, before you want to build a real meal.
I could serve others… it’s a dance that could leave you exhausted or even drive you mad, but it’s an option. I could come in here and try to please everybody. I could run endless amounts of programs and run myself ragged trying to live up to everybody’s expectations, being the “perfect” pastor, wife, sister, friend…
Or… I could serve God. I could worship the King who has come. I could do the work that’s set in front of me, and commit all I do to His service, knowing that I’ve done my best, and that He is pleased with me, even when others aren’t. I could stand under a yoke that is easy, and a burden that is light – with all the weight lifted off me by the cross which truly bears it. Living in its shadow and protected by the blood, that is my shield.
Who do you want to serve? What do you want out of life? If a king has come, do you have the courage to bow, or will you continue to walk away? Can you dare to be bold? Could you have the courage to step up, when everybody else steps back?
In 452AD, Attila the Hun cut a path of destruction across Italy that would be remembered for all antiquity. He devastated some cities so badly that they would never even be seen or heard from again. As he drew near to the edges of Rome, it truly looked as if he would eventually rule the world.
On a cold December morning, Attila did not ride out to meet an opposing army, he rode out to meet three priests. They had been waiting for him for a few days, on that cold hillside, in their habits and cloaks. Kneeling before the great king and warlord, weaponless, they begged him, in the name of God, to spare their city.
Their leader was an old man of harmless simplicity, venerable in his gray hair and his majestic garb, ready of his own free will to give himself entirely for the defense of his flock. He went forth to meet the tyrant who was destroying all things. It is said, that he met Attila in the neighborhood of the river Mincio, and he spoke to the grim monarch, saying "The senate and the people of Rome, once conquerors of the world, now indeed vanquished, come before thee as suppliants. We pray for mercy and deliverance. O Attila, thou king of kings, thou couldst have no greater glory than to see suppliant at thy feet this people before whom once all peoples and kings lay suppliant. Thou hast subdued, O Attila, the whole circle of the lands which it was granted to the Romans, victors over all peoples, to conquer. Now we pray that thou, who hast conquered others, shouldst conquer thyself The people have felt thy scourge; now as suppliants they would feel thy mercy."
As Leo said these things Attila stood looking upon his venerable garb and aspect, silent, as if thinking deeply. Wherefore Attila was appeased he who had raged as one mad. He by Leo's intercession, straightway promised a lasting peace and withdrew beyond the Danube.
No one was willing to fight Attila. But we have a king who is mightier.
Could you be so bold, as Pope Leo? Could you stand in front of the ravenous horde and plead for peace? Could you do it for the way of Christ?
A King has come – mightier then Attila, with Righteousness and Love as his standards.
What will you do with Him?
so there you have it - was anybody brave enough to read? comments?