Summary: It is Palm Sunday. King Jesus is riding down the mountain into Jerusalem.
The King is Coming
April 1, 2007
I was listening to NPR News on the way in to the church this morning and heard some very good news. Despite everything we have heard and have been led to believe during the past 30 years, Elvis has not left the building. He is alive and well and was last seen enjoying a fried catfish dinner down at Graceland.
Actually, Elvis will have been dead for 30 years this coming August. But he still reigns in the hearts of all rock and roll fans. He is, after all, the King of Rock and Roll. You don’t even have to use his full title. All you have to say is “The King” and people know who you are talking about.
I remember a summer during my Jr. High School years. I had a friend who had a swimming pool and she played host to a whole bunch of us just about every day during that summer. One day, there happened to be an Elvis marathon on television. They ran several of his movies back to back. That was the day that the guys got the pool all to ourselves because all of the girls were inside watching TV.
While no one ever thought that Elvis deserved an academy award for his acting, you can’t underestimate his impact on music; an impact that is still being felt today. I believe that he deserved his title of “King.”
All of this brings us to today, Palm Sunday. This is a day that is no April Fools joke. Jesus wasn’t joking when he said that he was going to Jerusalem to bear the weight of the sins of all humanity. He wasn’t joking when he said that the Kingdoms of the world were no match for his heavenly Kingdom. He wasn’t joking when he rode a beast of burden and a symbol of peace down into the city, rather than sitting astride a majestic horse of war. Jesus wasn’t joking when he told the Pharisees that even if his voice was silenced, the very rocks and stones would continue to proclaim his praise.
When you think about it, there are some interesting similarities between King Elvis and King Jesus. I don’t want to push this too far, but thanks to one of my preaching journals (Homiletics March-April 2007. page 42) I would like to ask you to consider this. Jesus said, “Love thy neighbor.” Elvis said, “Don’t be cruel.” Jesus was one part of the Trinity. Elvis’ first band was a trio. Jesus walked on water. Elvis liked to surf. Jesus is the Lamb of God. Elvis had mutton chop sideburns. Jesus is alive. Elvis is….well, I said I didn’t want to push this too far.
Fifty years ago this month, April 1957, “All Shook Up” reached the top of the Billboard chart and stayed there for eight weeks. You remember this great anthem of American teenaged angst, don’t you?
My hands are shaky and my knees are weak.
I can’t seem to stand on my own two feet.
Who do you thank when you have such luck?
I’m in love.
I’m all shook up?
Jerusalem was all shook up over this ride of Jesus down into the city from the Mount of Olives. They were like Elvis when he sang:
Well bless my soul, what’s wrong with me.
I’m itching like a man on a fuzzy tree.
Can’t you imagine how they were all feeling that day? They were probably all itching like a man on a fuzzy tree. The disciples certainly didn’t understand. They really didn’t know what in the world Jesus was up to when he rode down that mountain. What did he mean when he said that he was going to claim his Kingdom? Was he going to lead a military revolt? Was he going to ride at the head of the army of God to drive the Romans from their land?
The Pharisees didn’t know what was going on. It is clear that they were nervous because they instructed him to keep his followers quiet. They didn’t want a rebellion on their hands. They didn’t want some upstart Messiah to bring the wrath of Rome down on them. They didn’t want their religious authority challenged.
It is clear however, that Jesus has a different agenda. While both the Disciples and the Pharisees are focused on the contemporary political and social reality, Jesus is more interested in the Kingdom of God. His entrance wasn’t about human motivations or human achievements. His entrance in to the city was focused on the divine. This was a God moment.
It is interesting to note the parable that is recorded by Luke immediately preceding the account of the ride into Jerusalem. In that parable, a nobleman went to a distant country in order to claim royal power. In that era of Roman history, all client kings such as Herod were given the right to rule by the Roman Emperor. The local kings derived their power and authority from the empire.