Summary: Jesus Christ’s entry into Jerusalem reveals Jesus as the promised king, the humble king, and the unexpected king.
Note: This sermon was introduced with scene 49 from the play "Traveling Light."
As Americans, most of us don’t like kings very much. After all, that’s why we fought a revolutionary war in 1776, to be free of the tyranny of a king. Even though the king might be a benevolent king, he’s still a king nonetheless. And a king’s power is usually absolute. A person becomes usually becomes a king by claiming that he has a special right to that power. Either by coming from the right royal family or even by claiming a divine right, a person who aspires to kingship has to establish his right to the throne. And we as Americans don’t like that idea very much.
So when we as American Christians read in the Bible about Jesus Christ being our king, many of us don’t know how quite to respond to that idea. Having a king simply isn’t part of our everyday experience. We’re not even sure we want a king, as important as Jesus is to us.
About a year ago I read a biography of the ancient Greek King Alexander the Great (Peter Green, Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.). Alexander lived about 350 years before Jesus walked the earth, and Alexander was the king of Macedon in Greece. In many ways, Alexander was a typical king, and his life epitomizes many of the reasons we as Americans don’t like kings very much. Alexander became the king of Macedon in Greece for the one simple reason that his father before him had been king. From the cradle, Alexander’s mom Olympias and his father Philip told him that he was destined to rule over Greece. He was spoiled in every way conceivable, growing up in a royal palace with privilege and prosperity. So when his father Philip was murdered by one of his bodyguards, Alexander quickly ascended the throne. To bolster his claim to the throne, Alexander claimed that he was a direct descendant of the Greek god Hercules. So Alexander claimed a right to absolute power based on coming from the right family and from his claim to be a descendant from a Greek god. Eventually Alexander had he and his mother Olympias declared as gods themselves, and Alexander built temples so people could worship he and his mom. Alexander is called "the great" because he was probably the greatest military strategist from the ancient history. His conquest of Greece, Asia, Persia and India was a remarkable campaign. However by today’s standards, Alexander and his generals would’ve been be convicted for war crimes. You see, as Alexander marched in conquest, he butchered people, raped people, kidnapped people, stole people’s property, and destroyed entire cities. Anyone who ever insulted Alexander ended up regretting it as Alexander would carry grudges for years. Basically, Alexander was a violent and brutal person who lived in a time when nations were ruled by violent, brutal people. His tyranny and violence are just another example of why we as Americans prefer democracy to monarchy. And Alexander wasn’t the exception, but he was the rule of how ancient kings acted.
So for us to call Jesus Christ our King can be a little difficult for us, even as Christians. What we need to realize that Jesus is a different kind of king than any king we’ve ever read about or encountered. He’s not like Alexander, or Caesar Augustus, or even the kings of ancient Israel. Jesus in a class all by himself.
We’ve been in a series through the New Testament book of Mark called Following Jesus in the Real World. Today we’re going to look at the kingship of Jesus Christ. To do that we’re going to look at Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem. We’re going to see four characteristics of Jesus that make him an entirely different kind of king than any royalty the human race has ever encountered before. And because of these characteristics, we’re going to see that to be a Christian is to pledge our loyalty to the kingship of Jesus in our lives.
1. The Triumphal Entry (Mark 11:1-11)
Let’s first look at the text, starting in vv. 1-2. Jesus has been journeying from Northern Israel in the region of Galilee South toward the capital city of Jerusalem. Three times on this journey Jesus has predicted that betrayal and suffering await him in Jerusalem. But it’s in Jerusalem that Jesus will meet his destiny; Jerusalem is the place where everything will change for the human race. Jesus is journeying toward Jerusalem the same time the Jewish people were preparing to celebrate the annual Passover holiday. The Passover commemorated Israel’s deliverance from their slavery in Egypt and their birth as a nation. The Passover is in some ways similar to our Independence Day celebration on the fourth of July. It was also a time they celebrated how God spared them from the plagues that he sent upon the Egyptians.