“And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’ ” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” -Luke 19:28-40 (ESV)
How a person makes an entrance can communicate a great deal about their identity, character, and, oftentimes, their intentions. Sometime ago, I was asked to facilitate a residency weekend for a graduate-level course I was teaching. The residency experience took place during a hot July weekend in Dallas, Texas. To facilitate the residency, my colleagues and I had to make a daily journey from our hotel to the site hosting our residency sessions. The journey was beyond walking distance, so each morning, our hotel provided transportation for faculty members teaching during the residency weekend by means of a small bus.
The second day of our residency experience, I and some other faculty members stepped into the lobby to await our bus only to be informed that the bus was unavailable that particular morning. As we began to wonder how we were going to manage to get to the residency site on time, a momentary panic began to set in among our group. However, as our concern became apparent, we were informed by a bellman waiting in the lobby that the hotel had made alternate arrangements for our transportation. Within a few minutes, a large black stretch-limousine – complete with disco ball inside – pulled up next to the hotel entrance. We could hardly believe our eyes! The bellman advised that our transportation had arrived. As we stood staring in disbelief, we began to chuckle as we imagined what our students would think as they saw their professors pull up in a black stretch limousine. Talk about making a grand entrance for class!
While arriving “in style” in a limo certainly makes a statement, Jesus proved that a far more powerful statement could be made in a very different manner some 2,000 years ago. On a Sunday morning that would come to be known as Palm Sunday, Jesus made His triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem. Jesus didn’t make His entrance with the typical pomp and circumstance of royalty, displaying all of the trappings of worldly wealth and power. Rather, Jesus came in fulfillment of the prophesy recorded by Zechariah:
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! 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.” -Zechariah 9:9 (ESV)
Jesus didn’t come as the king everyone expected. The people in and around Jerusalem expected a Messiah that would be the “conquering king” – one that would come with military might, throw off the yoke of the Roman Empire, and inaugurate a new, earthly kingdom in Jerusalem. Jesus’s triumphal entry declares that He came not as the conquering king but as the saving, humble, and caring king of peace.
First, Jesus came riding on the donkey – specifically, the “colt, the foal of a donkey.” If Jesus had intended to come as the conquering, politically powerful, and militarily mighty king, He would have came riding on a stallion – a creature reflective of the majesty, power, and authority possessed by the conquering king. Instead, Jesus came in a manner that reflected His mission to save and bring peace into the hearts and minds of those who would place their faith and trust in Him. He is the Savior king.
Second, Jesus arrived in Bethany and Bethphage on foot. Presidents, governors, monarchs, and other rulers arrive in great processions. In the past and in certain ceremonial contexts today, they arrive in ornate horse-drawn carriages escorted by soldiers, bands, and honor guards. Today, rulers and those in authority often arrive in massive motorcades with police escorts, media, and official entourages. Jesus, however, arrived in Bethany and Bethphage in preparation for the triumphal entry with none of the above. Instead, He came humbly and on foot – a Savior of the people walking among His people. The manner of Jesus’s arrival reminds us that He is not just the God of the high and mighty, but the God of the lowly, the needy, the oppressed, the down-trodden, the burdened, the despairing, and the hurting. He is the God who sees all people, loves all people, and came to offer all those who would place their faith and trust in Him the hope of forgiveness, redemption, and eternal salvation. He is the humble king.
Third, and finally, Jesus provided His disciples with guidance. Have you ever had the experience of having someone in authority over you expect you to “read their mind?” Its frustrating…and sometimes terrifying…when you can’t figure out how to comply with an authoritative expectation accompanied by little or no guidance. As Jesus instructs His followers, He provides clear, direct, and compassionate guidance for them in directing them through the preparation for the triumphal entry and the future events of His passion week yet to come. Jesus is not a king who came to arbitrarily dictate, unfairly punish, or harshly oppress His followers. Rather, Jesus is a king who loves and has compassion for His people, who cares for them, and who guides them through each and every step of the journey of life. He is the caring king.
Do you find your heart burdened, weary, fearful, and despairing of the trials and difficulties that seem to overwhelm our world in this current age? It might amaze you to know that, even in the face of a constant barrage of reasons to fear and despair, the Bible tells us that we can experience lives set free from the bondage of fear and despair. That sounds so wonderful, but how can that be done? The answer is found in trusting King Jesus. Is it really that simple? Astoundingly, yes. In trusting Christ, we can surrender all of our cares and burdens of our heart knowing that it is He who ultimately and eternally rules and reigns and not us. This is what Jesus meant when He said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV).
However, trusting Jesus and following Him requires more than intellectual assent. Jesus isn’t seeking our simple “subscription” to His movement or our acknowledgement of his teaching; He seeks our faith, devotion, and dedication. The more we turn our attention – our thoughts, focus, and passion – toward knowing and serving Jesus, the more the cares, burdens, and concerns of this world are brought into their proper focus and their proper place. Jesus not only reigns in creation; when we surrender our focus and devotion to Him, He also reigns in our hearts, minds, and lives.
Jesus is a king like no other. He came to save. He came to humbly dwell with and among His people. And He came to care for His people. In a world seemingly full of darkness, fear, and despair, praise God for the saving, humble, and caring King Jesus.