Jesus the rejected king. 19:28-44
Jesus had been with his disciples for about three years. The date was 30AD, and it was his last visit to Jerusalem. When Jesus and his disciples were about three kilometers from the city, he sent two of them ahead of the group to pick up a male ass from an acquaintance living nearby. Jesus then set off, riding toward Jerusalem. The disciples couldn't contain themselves. They started shouting out at the top of their voices. "Here comes our king, blessed is he in the name of the Lord." The religious officials were a bit put out by the clamor. It seemed presumptuous, to say the least, and the Roman authorities could well get wind of all this and think they had an insurrection on the their hands. But, the truth was finally out and nothing could keep it hidden. When Jesus came in sight of Jerusalem, he paused and wept. Here was this beautiful city, so special in the sight of God and soon it would be destroyed by foreign armies. "They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not welcome God's coming to you".
v28. Luke conveys the sense of Jesus' pressing toward Jerusalem, leading his disciples; Jesus "must" press on to his destiny.
v29-31. This incident is sometimes presented in a miraculous light, although the text is probably saying nothing more than Jesus has, some time earlier, leased the animal for his use.
v32-34. Some argue that Luke is showing us that Jesus is a prophet; he can predict things that are true. Among other things Jesus is certainly a prophet, but that Luke is making this point is rather speculative. It is though interesting how this rather unspectacular incident is remembered by the disciples and included in the gospels.
v35-38. The disciples clearly understand the prophetic significance of this acted-out parable and so join in playing it out. They link Psalm 118:26 with Zechariah 9:9, and so acclaim the coming Messiah and therefore, the dawning of the kingdom of God. For Luke, "peace" is "in heaven" and not for this age; for the present there is suffering and judgment, but peace is coming.
v39. There is little doubt the Pharisees also understand something of the significance of the event and try to close it down.
v40. Whereas Jesus initially hid his messiahship, now, with the moment of glory close at hand (his crucifixion), the truth must be let out. To hold it in would result in even the stones declaring the secret.
v41-44. Unlike blind Bartimaeus who sees, the religious leaders of the day are blind to the full significance of the event. They turn their eyes away and condemn. The truth is hidden from them for they refuse to see (believe). The attitude of the religious elite has always been the same; they have rejected the prophets, accepting the comforting words of the false prophets of peace, and therefore, their rejection of the messiah is to be expected.
So, Jesus does not come to Jerusalem to be crowned king, but rather to be rejected and ignored. Jerusalem is not due for a coronation, but rather a crucifixion. As the noise of the crowd dies away, Jesus weeps before the city whose doom is assured.
The Rejected King
On Palm Sunday we think of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. Here is the first event in a sequence of events leading up to Jesus' death and resurrection. We like to think of it as a triumphal event. Here is Jesus finally coming out in the open and showing everyone who he is. By acting out the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, and riding a colt into Jerusalem, Jesus openly claims to be the humble king who comes to save his people and rule over them for eternity. Yet, although he came to be crowned, he was crucified. No triumph here, only tragedy. His disciples welcomed him as king, but the religious authorities rejected him and the general population ignored him. The new age had dawned, the king had come in glory, but most were caught in the business of their daily routine to notice. It was left to a small group of religious radicals and a few compromised priests, to notice their king ride on toward his pending doom.
It is no different today. Christ is ignored in the secular city. Western civilization staggers from one crisis to another. Economies move in ever diminishing circles of boom and bust. Financial crisis looms on the horizon. We look with fear at the pool of unemployed and wonder if we, or our children, will become one of the statistics. The sacred institution of the family is under threat. Once it was a source of meaning and security in our lives, but now it faces great change. We are told that 35% of children now live in blended families. Some 13% already live in single-parent families. We are retreating from the world. We are being overloaded by the horror of our world and so news reporting is increasingly becoming trivialized - the one line grab. We are withdrawing into the minimal self. No longer can we afford to moralize on issues; we feel that we can no longer afford the luxury of the ethics of an issue. Pragmatics is what matters; technology is what we esteem. Will it work? This is our question.
The gentle Nazarene looks on with tears for he sees our end. Quietly, while a people mourned the death of soulless fashion at Lady Di's funeral, Jesus slipped quietly from Westminster Abbey by a side door to the tune, Candle in the Wind. And no one noticed.
Riding on to glory to claim his crown. In what sense does Christ come before us today?
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