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.
[Do reading here]
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.
We’re going to consider this theme in three parts: first of all we’re going to listen to the song of peace as it is sung throughout Luke’s Gospel and especially in this text (don’t worry though, I won’t do any singing). Secondly, we’re going to consider the nature of peace and what the peace that Jesus offers looks like. Then finally we’re going to look at the type of response that this peace calls for in each of us.
Ready? Let’s go.
First of all, let me say that I believe there can be no doubt that this is a tremendously important theme, a vitally relevant one, for all we need to do in order to see this is look at the world around us. Consider all the recent struggles that have ended in bloodshed and the loss of lives – we need peace. Think of those who are struggling to rebuild their lives after the terrible devastation of natural disasters – they are tired and need God’s peace. But we need not look that far, remember your own life, do you face struggles? Are we weighed down by burdens of fear and anxiety? Of course we do, all of us – we need God’s peace.
And Luke tells us that Jesus is the One who offers it.
1. The Song of Peace…
When we read Luke’s account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem we notice that the song of the crowd is different to that which we see in the other Gospels. In Matthew, Mark and John the crowd sings: “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Yet in Luke we hear the words: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”