Palm Sunday 10th April

‘What kind of King is this?

Readings: Philippians 2: 5-11, Luke 19: 28-44

Jesus was travelling to Jerusalem, a journey which would end with betrayal, arrest, torture and death on a cross.

Jesus had journeyed from Jericho, where he had healed blind Bartimaeus, to Bethany which was about 13 miles. So from Bethany he had only two miles to go to Jerusalem, so he had almost reached his goal.

The prophets of the Old Testament had a regular custom which they used when people refused to listen and take in their spoken message. They resorted to drama, to paint a picture in people’s minds and a drama was just what Jesus had in mind as he travelled into the Holy City. He proposed to ride into Jerusalem in such a way that the very action of it would be an unmistakable claim that he was the Messiah, God’s anointed King.

This entry into the city had been prepared long before, it was no sudden, impulsive action. Jesus did not leave things to the last minute. It teaches us a lesson in preparing well when we are doing God’s work. The most important preparation is prayer to ask God for guidance in every detail of our lives but especially when we are preparing to do his work.

Jesus had made arrangements with the owners of the colt and a password had been agreed on. He sent two of his disciples ahead of him to collect the colt and bring it to him. But they couldn’t complete the task without the password which was, ‘The Lord needs it.’ When the disciples returned to Jesus with the donkey, they threw their cloaks on its back and Jesus climbed on.

It took incredible courage for Jesus to enter the city in the way that he did. By this time there was a price on his head. It would have been natural for him to slip unseen into Jerusalem. But he entered in such a way as to focus the whole lime-light upon himself and to occupy the centre stage. It is impossible to exaggerate the sheer courage of Jesus.

It was a deliberate fulfilling of the picture painted by Zechariah. But even in this, Jesus underlined the kind of Kingship which he claimed. The donkey in Palestine was not the lowly beast that it is in this country. It was noble, because only in war did kings ride on a horse; when they came in peace they came upon a donkey. So Jesus by this action came as a King who comes to his people in love and in peace and not as a conquering hero which the mob expected and were waiting for.

Jesus was prepared to do whatever it took to save us. Ridicule, pain, torture, even death on a cross. His was total commitment because he knew there was no other way.

Today we remember the servant King riding into town in triumph tinged with sadness. As we come to Holy Week and re-live the last supper, the arrest of Jesus, his trial and suffering. May we remember that it was our sin that he suffered for and may we commit our lives to him and come to know the risen Jesus and let him reign in our hearts now and always Amen.

Revd Jim Thorneycroft