Is Jesus King of your life? Are you fully submitted to him? The Easter story begins with a dramatic entry to Jerusalem, which proclaims Jesus as king and demands our allegiance:
‘As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’” They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “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 heaven!”’ (Mark 11:1-10)
I wonder how you imagine this scene? It was the time of the Passover, when thousands of Jews would have travelled to Jerusalem to celebrate the time in Israel’s history when God set them free from captivity in Egypt (Exodus 12). It was no easy journey. The climb from Jericho to Jerusalem was around 18 miles (the length of the Circle line) and almost entirely up hill. Jericho was the lowest city on earth, around 800 feet below sea level, and Jerusalem was 3,000 feet above sea level. The journey would have been long and hard, travelling through desert and over rocky terrain. Walking it would have been tough enough, but Jesus chose an even less convenient mode of transport: a donkey!
In fact, Jesus didn’t simply request any old donkey, he asked for ‘a colt, which no one has ever ridden’ (v2). This was not pickiness on his part, but a powerful prophetic statement. In the Jewish writings it was decreed that nobody should ride on an animal that is set aside for the king. And the prophet Zechariah wrote, ‘Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey’ (Zechariah 9:9).
By entering Jerusalem on a colt that had never been ridden, Jesus was making the bold claim: “I am the King you have been waiting for.”
Many people got the hint! They lay down their coats on the ground, like their forefathers had when they recognised Jehu as King (2 Kings 9:13), and they raised their voices in song. And not just any song! As the people journeyed at the Passover, they would sing Psalms which had been set for the occasion; in particular Psalms 113-118. These were the same Psalms they sang every single year, Psalms which told of the goodness of God in rescuing His people from slavery. But this year they took on a new sense of poigniancy, as the people sang ‘Hosanna’ which means ‘God save us!’ and ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’, whilst Jesus rode in their midst (Psalm 118:25-26).
Whether or not they realised the full implications of their prayers, songs and actions, we, with the gift of hindsight can see what Jesus was doing. This was a declaration of intent: The King had returned to the city, to lay claim to what was rightfully his and to set his people free.
Questions for Reflection
- Jesus challenged the expectations of the crowd by coming, not as a victorious warrior, but as a humble man on a donkey. In what ways does Jesus’ humility challenge you? In what, perhaps unexpected, ways is he currently working in your life?
- Upon recognising Jesus as King, the people lay down their branches and cloaks at his feet. Are there things that you currently need to lay down in recognition of Jesus’ rule over your life?
Why not use the following to help you to pray today:
Lord Jesus, I recognise you as King, and I lay down my life before you. I thank you that you came to rescue mankind, through your life, death and resurrection. Would you be enthroned as King in my life today, ruling over my thoughts, my plans, my decisions and my ambitions and may I glorify you in all that I do. Amen
If you find yourself with some extra time today, why not use this question to go a little deeper.
- Read and reflect on Psalms 113-118. How has God intervened in your life and what reasons do you have to give Him thanks and praise today?
Image: Palm Frond by Samuel John, used under CC