Sunday Night Musings: Of Kings and Palm Branches

My Lord came riding into town on a donkey (we heard this tonight at church from Luke 19:28-40).

He wasn't in a chariot or even on some noble steed. Not even a full-grown donkey. It was a colt. Hadn't even been ridden before. He didn't receive red-carpet treatment, but a path of palm leaves.

It doesn't make sense.
1. You don't ride into the capital city being proclaimed king. Not when Herod is on the throne; not when an army from a conquering country is occupying your land.
2. You don't ride into the capital city being proclaimed king on the back of a young donkey. You don't ride in on something known for stubbornness and whose name has become part of many a good curse. If you're going to be king, do it right. Come in on an elephant or something more stately than a little jackass. Come in with army with weapons and force to occupy the city, not citizens with palm leaves.
3. You don't ride into the capital city without some significant backing. If the religious leaders are telling you to have the crowd be silent, you're not going to get very far.

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Much has been made recently about the way Pope Francis has claimed the papal role, and his life before then. When he was in his previous role, he shunned a lavish lifestyle, living simply in a small apartment and taking public transportation.

I saw a picture posted on facebook (which I can't seem to track down, so let me know if you're aware of this one) comparing the "throne" that the previous Pope Benedict sat in with the one of the current Pope. The latter's was much less ostentatious. And while I don't think Pope Benedict was necessarily a "flashy" person, Pope Francis has certainly brought a much more humble position to the papacy.

Hopefully, what he models will catch on. Humility is a wonderful virtue to pass on to others.

* * * * * * *

I wonder if I would be there waving my palm branch, shouting "Hosanna!" Or would I be scoffing at His entrance on a colt? The people were expecting a mighty warrior to be Messiah--someone who would topple governments and drive out oppressors.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, He turned expectations upside down (even though Zechariah prophesied that the Messiah would arrive on a donkey's colt). He came in absolute humility. He came giving sight to the blind, dignity to the outcast, and food for the hungry. He came bringing hope.

He came, not demanding allegiance, but praise. He told the Pharisees that if the people were silenced, then the stones would cry out in praise. He didn't demand fealty, but invited people to follow Him.

Jesus entered knowing what was before Him--Gethsemane and the cross. Despite knowing that excruciating death would end the week ahead, Jesus still came to Jerusalem. He didn't do what was expected of Him. His still doesn't.

Sometimes I just need to open my eyes to the unexpectedness of Jesus a little more. I need to not try and force my expectations upon Him. I need to humbly follow, calling Him Lord, and singing His praises.

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