Summary: A reflection on Palm Sunday
“Jesus, the King who brings Peace…”
Throughout our Lenten journey this year we have been traveling with Luke as our companion. All our readings have been taken from his Gospel and today we continue our journey by turning to Luke 19:28-44, here we find Luke’s account of what happened on that day when Jesus entered Jerusalem.
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Now, before we can go on to consider any particular or implied message from this text there are two observations that need to be made by way of setting the foundation right. Two things that we need to take note of if we want to understand fully the message that Luke is trying to convey here.
Firstly, the simple fact of Jesus’ rather dramatic entry – especially in light of the fact that he has a “price on his head” should make us sit up and listen. Jesus makes a ridiculously dramatic entrance, not like a couple arriving for a matric dance in a helicopter, or a sports team taking the field with fireworks going off all over the place, no, I mean a seriously dramatic entrance. Jesus is deliberately drawing on an Old Testament prophecy regarding the Messiah by riding in on a donkey. In Zechariah 9:9 the prophet declares: “Fear not, o daughter of Zion, behold, your King is coming, riding on the colt of a donkey.” By his manner of entrance Jesus was declaring that he is this long awaited King, the Messiah whom the prophets foretold. For a man being hunted by the authorities that’s a pretty dramatic entrance! But we must be careful not to miss the point here. Jesus wasn’t doing this for the sake of attention; he made such an entrance in order that we might know he is indeed the King whom the Prophets spoke about. The One we watch for today as he approaches the gates is the Saviour, the King of kings.
And this lead to a second observation that we need to make; if Jesus came declaring that he was the long awaited King, then what sort of King was he claim to be? Well, let’s ask the donkey to answer that question… at first it may seem strange that King would enter his city riding on a donkey – I mean if he was king then why not ride a chariot or a horse, at least – but when we consider the ancient world we will see that kings did, on occasion, ride donkeys, especially during times of peace. See, kings of that age and in that part of the world would use chariots and horses during times of war or when they were parading in glory. But in times of peace they illustrated this peace by riding on a donkey instead of a horse. Jesus came, riding on a donkey because he was not only a king, he was the King who would bring peace, he was the Prince of Peace and he wants to offer us that peace.
It is at this point that we come very near the heart of today’s message. And it is at this point that we encounter one of those aspects of this story that is unique to Luke. “Peace”. This theme is very important to Luke, as we’ll come to see more clearly in a little while, and it is the theme on which we’ll focus today.