Summary: Jesus invites us into his kingdom – to join him in the rebuilding of this world. Will you join him?
Mark 11:1-11 Palm Sunday, 2006
Return of the King
An Allegory From the Orthodox Church:
Once upon a time there was a good and kind king who had a great kingdom with many cities. In one distant city, some people took advantage of the freedom the king gave them and started doing evil. They profited by their evil and began to fear that the king would interfere and throw them in jail. Eventually these rebels seethed with hatred for the king. They convinced the city that everyone would be better off without the king, and the city declared its independence from the kingdom.
But soon, with everyone doing whatever they wanted, disorder reigned in the city. There was violence, hatred, lying, oppression, murder, rape, slaver and fear. The king thought: “What should I do? If I take my army and conquer the city by force, the people will fight against me, and I’ll have to kill so many of them, and the rest will only submit through fear or intimidation, which will make them hate me and all I stand for even more. How does that help them – to be either dead or imprisoned or secretly seething with rage? But if I leave them alone, they’ll destroy each other, and it breaks my heart to think of the pain they’re causing and experiencing.”
So the king did something very surprising. He took off his robes and dressed in the rags of a homeless wanderer. Incognito, he entered the city and began living in a vacant lot near a garbage dump. He took up a trade – fixing broken pottery and furniture. Whenever people came to him, his kindness and goodness and fairness and respect were so striking that they would linger just to be in his presence. They would tell him their fears and questions, and ask his advice. He told them that the rebels had fooled them, that the true king had a better way to live, which exemplified and taught. One by one, then two by two, and then by the hundreds, people began to have confidence in him and live in his way.
Their influence spread to others, and the movement grew and grew until the whole city regretted its rebellion and wanted to return to the kingdom again. But, ashamed of their horrible mistake, they were afraid to approach the king, believing he would certainly destroy them for their rebellion. But the king-in-disguise told them the good news: he himself was king, and he loved them. He held nothing against them, and welcomed them back into his kingdom, having accomplished by a gentle, subtle presence what never could have been accomplished through brute force.”
- a Generous Orthodoxy P. 57
Jesus had been living among the people for 33 years, he had been ministering among them for 3 years. Although he gave many hints at his identity, he seldom came out and said it. Up until this point in the Gospel, he is the king in disguise. The story of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the Palm Sunday story is where he comes out and says it, “I am the King.”
Jesus is the Messiah
The Israelites had been waiting for the Messiah to come and save them. A King that would bring the nation back to its rightful glory - a time when the borders will be as large as they were when Solomon was king, a time when all the nations around would see the greatness of Israel and turn and worship God as they should, a time when the nations that have been forced to serve would now serve them.
Some people had put their hope in leaders of revolts against the Romans, and the Hellenists before them, but all these revolts were quashed and the hoped for Messiahs were killed.
But they had heard of this Jesus - the Miraculous signs that followed him, the power in his words, his love of God and the people; maybe he is the one!
The people who were looking for the coming of the Messiah would have known all the Prophesies that told of what he would be like, and they would have been looking even more for signs during the Passover festival - a festival that celebrated the great deliverance of the nation out of Egypt.
The people who were waiting and watching would have known the Scripture in Zachariah 9:9 which says:
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zachariah 9:9 NIV)
And Jesus knew the verse as well - to come into the city during the Passover riding a donkey colt when all the other pilgrims were walking was a powerful sign and statement that said "I am he, I am the one, I am the Messiah!