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Palm Sunday Sermon: What Kind of King Did You Expect?

But, the king they seek will come to them humbly, not on a steed of war, but on a slow-moving donkey, the symbol of a king who comes in peace, according to Zechariah.

The two processions could not be more different in the messages they convey.  Pilate, leading Roman centurions, asserts the power and might of the empire of Rome which crushes all who oppose it.

Jesus, riding on a young donkey, embodies the peace and tranquility that the shalom that God brings to His people.

Those who watch that day will make a choice.  They will either serve the god of this world, might and power; or they will choose to serve the king of a very different kind of kingdom, the kingdom of God.

The Problem of Leadership

But there is another problem. In their book Leadership on the Line authors Marty Linsky and Ron Heifetz define leadership this way:

Leadership is about disappointing your own people at a rate they can absorb.

So, Jesus has another problem.  Of course, his followers and others who get caught up in his entry into Jerusalem think they are choosing to follow Jesus.  But by the end of the week, Jesus will have disappointed the crowd at a rate faster than they can stand.  They will turn on him.  Even those closest to Jesus, the 12 disciples, will either betray him outright, or abandon him in confusion and fear.

It is interesting to note that the crowd on that Sunday, proclaimed, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”  In other words, they were placing their faith in Jesus that he would restore the glory of the nation to its splendor when David and his son, Solomon, ruled a united kingdom.

That’s what the Jews wanted, after all.  To be ruled by a man like David, a man so committed to God that the Old Testament prophets had proclaimed that the coming Messiah would sit on the throne of his father, David.  The Messiah would bring back the glory of Israel, would rid the nation of oppressors, would rule benevolently, and would be kind to the common people.

Jesus had challenged the rulers of Judea already.  Not the Roman rulers, but the local rulers.  He had said to them that the Temple was not the only way to find God’s forgiveness; and further, that the Temple would be destroyed, with not one stone left on another.

Of course, those who made their living from the Temple like the scribes; the chief priest and his priests; the ruling council of the Sanhedrin; and, the religious parties, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, would all lose their power and prestige if there was no Temple.  Or, even if the Temple was no longer the only place where one could be forgiven by God.