Summary: A sermon that portrays Jesus as a Topsy Turvy King, one who was not as was expected.

The Topsy-Turvy King

Text: Matt 21:1-11

My son Timothy has just had his 13th Birthday last Monday, but when he was a toddler he was very taken with the Mr. Men series written by Roger Hargreaves.

One of the books he particularly liked me to read to him was Mr. Topsy Turvy.


Mr. Topsy Turvy is a chap who does everything the wrong way round. He lives in a house with an upside down chimney-stack, and he wears his hat upside down. He puts his socks on his hands, and when he goes to buy them he gets the order of the words the wrong way round:

“I’d like a sock of pairs”, he asks.

At the end of the book there is a question that Roger Hargreaves asks:

‘Can you think of something to say that’s topsy turvy? Go on try!’

Being a big kid at heart I’m going to answer that question:


It doesn’t seem very topsy turvy to us, but to many of the Jews at the time of Jesus, and also since then, - that statement would definitely seem topsy turvy!

So why do I say this?

Well the Jews were waiting for a Messiah, and had been waiting some 3,800 years for him to come. He was to be like a King, mighty in power, and would lead Israel to overthrow their oppressors.

He was to be of David’s line and would be given a sceptre, which is a short Royal rod, or staff. A kind of symbol of authority.

To the Jews, and particularly their governing body, the Sanhedrin, there was nothing more topsy-turvy than this statement: ’Jesus is King’.

[The following is said with Sarcasm]

“Jesus - being the Messiah???

After all, wasn’t Jesus the son of Joseph, a humble carpenter from Nazareth! I ask you how preposterous.

They say he was born in a mere stable with oxen and asses as bed-fellows.

A King should be of royal descent, and born in a palace with servants to wait upon him, hand and foot.

Besides, Israel already has a King - there’s King Herod, even if he is an Idomite, rather than a Jew.

A King doesn’t ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, after all where is the dignity, pomp and ceremony in that?’’

And yet we know from the scriptures that the people treated Jesus like a King as he entered Jerusalem on His donkey.


Jesus fulfilled many Old Testament prophecies, and His actions, and the actions of the people, acknowledged traditional rights to the title of ‘King of the Jews’. I’d like us to look at a few of them.

i) The Donkey

Firstly, in the Old Testament we read in Zechariah 9:9

Say to the daughter of Zion

See your King comes to you

Gentle and riding on a Donkey

On a Colt the foal of a Donkey.

Whenever I think of formal ceremonies involving royalty, I see them in my mind’s-eye being transported about in a dignified manner:

a) The state carriages, containing members of royalty giving the traditional royal wave, always flanked by soldiers and body-guards;

b) or a well tempered, yet resplendent horse carrying the Queen, in her younger days, across the Parade Square during the Trooping of the Colour.

c) Similarly, we have seen the Pope being driven around in a specially designed bullet-proof Limousine.


All of these examples afford the dignitary both height, (so that they can be seen by the earnestly waiting members of the public), and also a kind of elevated status brought about by the mode of transport adopted.

Could you ever imagine Bill Clinton being driven around in a Mini Cooper!! He’d have difficulty getting into one.

Well, that must have been exactly what it must have seemed like to the people in the crowd when Jesus entered Jerusalem.

He would have been difficult to see. There would have been pushing, and jostling, by those who wanted to see Him, and touch Him. His progress would most likely have been very slow.

Whenever I think of Donkeys, two pictures come to mind:

a) One is of Donkey Derbies, where people stand about laughing at Donkeys that won’t budge, no matter how hard their rider tries to encourage them. Their riders are usually children, who become extremely embarrassed when everyone is apparently laughing at them.

b) The other picture I see is of a faithful servant, trudging up and down Mablethorpe Beach, giving rides to excited children. Some of the children get a little too excited and kick the donkey’s side, as if the rider was at the Grand National with 50 metres to run to the winning post.

Jesus rode a Colt, that is a young donkey that has never been ridden before. This might have been an awkward ride, and yet there is no mention of that in the Bible.

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