Not the King they expected

Published 9:02 pm Friday, March 27, 2015

By Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, one of the high points on the Christian calendar.

On Palm Sunday, we remember the day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem. He rode in to die for us, and He rode in to be raised for us. Luke 19:36-40 tells us about that event:

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“And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 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, saying, ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.’”

A little over a year ago I was in Jerusalem, and I got to walk down the Mount of Olives, following the very path Jesus followed that day as He rode into Jerusalem. My heart was full that day, but the Bible says Jesus was weeping on that day.

New Testament scholar N.T. Wright describes the scene:

“The crowd went wild as they got nearer. This was the moment they’d been waiting for. All the old songs came flooding back, and they were singing, chanting, cheering and laughing. At last, their dreams were going to come true. But in the middle of it all, their leader wasn’t singing. He was in tears. Yes, their dreams were indeed coming true. But not in the way they were imagining. He was not the king they expected. Not like the monarchs of old, who sat on their jeweled and ivory thrones. Nor was He the great warrior-king some had wanted. He didn’t raise an army and ride to battle at its head. He was riding on a donkey.”

Yes, a donkey. Instead of riding in on a warhorse, this King rode in on a humble donkey, which foreshadowed the way in which He would humble Himself in dying for our sins later that week.

As He rode, his disciples were crying out, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” This brought an immediate response from the religious leaders, who admonished Jesus to hush his disciples.

Jesus responded by saying to them, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” What did He mean?

I believe Jesus was saying that all creation was meant to worship Him, and that creation includes you, my friend. You are not an accident. You were made by God and for God. You were formed to be in a relationship with your Creator.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to make such a relationship possible. He rode in to allow our sins to converge on Him as he hung on the cross.

There He paid the penalty for them, dying as our substitute. There He absorbed death for us. And there He defeated death for us by rising from the dead.

The door is wide open for you to know Him. Just believe this good news: Your Savior has come.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.