Summary: Following Jesus means we recognize the royal nature of the one we serve. Yes, he has saved us. Yes, he loves us and wants us in his royal family. But yes, he is King of Kings, and we owe him our very lives. There is no other appropriate response.
The people singing Hosannas to Jesus knew they had their man. They welcomed Jesus like a rising military or political figure, and offered him their adoration. But when people were asked who Jesus was, they missed the mark. “He is a prophet from Nazareth,” they said. They were literally walking with the Son of God who had come to save the world, but they weren’t even aware of it.
Illustration: If George W. Bush comes to your community in the next few weeks, and you get a chance to introduce him, don’t introduce him as a former baseball team owner. Don’t stop with the introduction after you’ve mentioned his college days at Yale. If you somehow forget that your speaker is President of the United States, you’ll never introduce another person as long as you live. Your own mother would scold you for forgetting the most important information. But if President Bush comes to town, there won’t be any mistaking that he’s arrived. With all the security, and with the news media coverage, it would be incredibly difficult to forget the main point during your introduction.
The Son of God arrived for the climactic event of all history, and people got the introduction all wrong. Why? They had their eyes fixed on themselves, and not on Jesus. Some were tired of being ruled by the Romans, and Jesus appeared to be their ticket out of the occupation. Some were tired of a disability, or a disease. They saw Jesus as a miracle-working machine who would make life easier. Some were hungry, and they’d heard that Jesus could stretch food to miraculous proportions. Very few of the people coming down the mountain that day had any idea that God was working His greatest act of love right in front of their eyes.
Amazingly, it’s still possible to miss Jesus. If people wait until a crisis to “find religion,” it rarely sticks. People in prison, or headed to incarceration, might see Jesus as their way of miraculous release. People surprised by serious illness might look to Jesus as the miraculous cure. People on the verge of a relationship crisis might see Jesus as the ultimate psychologist.
Make no mistake about it. Millions of people alive right now who’ve followed Jesus have reported many miraculous events. Jesus is still in the miracle-working, disease-healing, relationship-mending business. But if that’s all Jesus is seen for, we’ve missed it. When the crisis is over, Jesus won’t be needed. He can be discarded as quickly as the crowd around Jerusalem discarded him in the days following Palm Sunday. Jesus entered Jerusalem with a fixed purpose, and an amazing plan. Despite the fact that the crowd didn’t understand that plan, he stayed true to course, and never wavered from his goal. His eyes never left his target.
The Purpose Driven Life has sold millions of copies, and transformed millions of people and churches across the world. Instinctively, most people want to know: What is my purpose? How can I be more fulfilled? What a shock to open this best-selling book and read the first sentence: “It’s not about you!” And it’s not about you. Though Jesus is intently interested in you, and loves you more than can be described, he is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, and is worthy of our worship. We have been created to worship him, not the other way around.