Summary: What Makes Jesus a Great King? 1) Ability; 2) Humility; 3) Popularity
When Pierre Trudeau passed away not too long ago I could hardly keep up with all the articles about the man and his career. I suppose that kind of coverage is only natural for a former Prime Minister of sixteen years. The articles I enjoyed reading the most were the ones debating whether or not Mr. Trudeau was a good leader. There is no doubt that he left his mark on Canada but people can’t seem to agree if it’s a blotch or a brooch. For example did his promotion of official bilingualism draw the country together or drive it apart? Did his Wages and Price Controls of ’75 help the economy or make it worse? Did his sponsorship of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms assure freedom for citizens or free government from accountability?
I’m not about to wade into the debate on Trudeau’s legacy but I am willing to tell you what makes for a great leader: ability, humility, and popularity. Did Pierre Trudeau demonstrate those qualities? It depends to whom you talk I suppose. I do know of one leader that definitely has those qualities. An honest look at the events of Palm Sunday will show that Jesus has the qualities of a great king - a king worth following.
The first thing to look for in a great king is the ability to lead. For that you need two things: smarts, and power. Our text proves that Jesus had both. Jesus showed just how smart he was when he sent two of his disciples ahead to the next town to fetch a donkey. Jesus did not simply ask his disciples to find something, anything, for him on which to ride into Jerusalem. He told the disciples exactly what to bring back, where they would find it, and what they should say when the owner asked them where they were going with his donkey. When the two disciples arrived in town they found everything just as Jesus had described. And just as Jesus had promised the owner allowed them to take the donkey.
The fact that Jesus knew all these details demonstrates his omniscience – his divine ability to know all things. Of course sceptics try to find other explanations as to how Jesus knew that a donkey would be available to him in the next town. They claim that Jesus had made arrangements with the owners beforehand. If that’s the case why did the owners sound alarmed when the disciples started marching off with their donkey? Others say that Jesus had ridden on this donkey before and knew that it would be available to him again. Yet that’s not a plausible explanation either because the gospel writers are careful to point out that the donkey had never before been ridden.
Isn’t it comforting to know that Jesus knows all things? If he knew that a donkey was waiting for him in the next town, he certainly knows what’s down the road for you. Therefore there is no need to worry about what tomorrow will bring because Jesus is already there. We can also trust that following his commands won’t send us on a wild goose chase. Just as the disciples found the donkey as Jesus said they would, we can trust that when Jesus directs us to put our trust and faith in him for our eternal salvation and for our temporal good he will not let us down.
Jesus was not only smart; he was powerful. He demonstrated his divine power by riding an unbroken colt into Jerusalem. Big deal you say? Well, you’ve never been around a colt before if you don’t think that’s a big deal. A colt can be more antsy than a pre-schooler on a sugar high. Not only was it amazing that this unbroken colt would allow Jesus to ride it but as far we know it didn’t even buck when it was surrounded by the ecstatic crowds shouting their Hosannas and throwing their cloaks down in front of it.
Of course Jesus had done other things to demonstrate his power. Shortly before he rode into Jerusalem he healed two blind men in Jericho. We may be tempted to take those miracles for granted because Jesus did them all the time but think of how modern medicine has yet to give someone their sight back. Sure doctors say they can improve eyesight through laser surgery but that process can also decrease your night vision. I doubt if those two men in Jericho had any problem with their night vision after Jesus healed them.
If you’re not impressed with the healing of the blind men, then be impressed as the crowds were with how Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. The Apostle John tells us that that’s the reason many people came out from Jerusalem to meet Jesus. Jesus is a great king. He has the ability to lead because he not only knows what lies ahead in our future but has the power to keep us safe and to heal us. He even has power over death! Now that’s something no earthly leader can claim.