The coronation of a new king is an exciting time. It’s filled with ceremony and pageantry. It’s filled with joy and excitement as people hope that the new king will be even better than the old king, or, perhaps, knowing that anything would be better than the old king. There are parties. There’s usually a parade. In today’s readings we see Solomon succeeding David as king and that succession is proclaimed by riding on a mule to be anointed as king. It’s a thrilling adventure that Americans only touch on when a new president is inaugurated because kings reign for life, but a president’s term is only 4, maybe 8 years.
While Jesus fulfilled many of the Messianic prophecies as a natural part of who He was while walking on earth, on prophecy that He deliberately fulfilled was that the Messiah would ride into Jerusalem on a colt. (Zechariah 9:9) It may not have been the huge parade that most associated with the Messiah, but people found out about Jesus’ entry and they showed up. In some of the versions of this story, the Pharisees were upset with the crowds, but on Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem as the Messiah. “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 11:9-10)
This entrance was the apex of Jesus’ popularity. The crowds were cheering. The people were expecting great things from Jesus; for many of them this entrance proved what they had secretly hoped about Jesus. There were no more questions in the minds of the people. This entrance was a revolutionary statement that excited the crowds, and left the Pharisees apoplectic. The Pharisees knew that the Romans had extra troops on guard because it was the Passover season. Neither the Romans nor the Pharisees were fools. The Pharisees saw the entrance of Jesus for what it was. If the Romans didn’t understand the full meaning of what Jesus did, they knew that there was a huge crowd gathered together praising some king, and they knew that Caesar hadn’t come to visit. They weren’t going to stand for it. That truth scared the Pharisees and they intensified their efforts to put an end to their “Jesus problem.”
We know the rest of the story, though. In less than a week, the crowds that hailed His entry became an angry mob, demanding His crucifixion. Oh, perhaps they weren’t exactly the same people, but I can’t help but believe that some of the same people proclaiming Jesus as Messiah were among those calling for His crucifixion. The real question that we need to face today is “how do we see Jesus?” Do we cheer Him with the crowds and proclaim Him as Messiah with Lordship over our lives one day and then, later, deny our words with our actions? I know, “I would never do that.” And yet, I recognize that my sins were the reason Jesus went to the cross. Knowing that, and then deliberately sinning, as I do, is like screaming for His crucifixion. Who is Jesus to you? Is He the triumphant Messiah who is Lord of all or is He the man of sorrows who needs to be crucified to pay the penalty for your sins. I know that in my life I proclaim Him as Messiah, but too often give Him more reasons to be crucified. We fall back on the old saw that “no one’s perfect” and yet, deep down, we know that we have denied His lordship in our lives by our deliberate failures. The amazing thing about that situation is that God still loves us; He still extends His grace to us. If we are going to imitate Him, as we should, we need to extend grace to others also.
Oh Lord, how often do I proclaim You publicly? How often do I let people know that I love and trust You? Why then do I, even more often, fall away from Your grace to choose my own way. Help me stay true.