King for a Day

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

Triumphal EntryHappy Palm Sunday to everyone! Palm Sunday has traditionally marked the beginning of what is referred to as "Holy Week," a week that starts on Palm Sunday and culminates on Easter/First Fruits Sunday. This single week is an amazing replay of the creation story in Genesis 1. Our Lord started from a place of rest, before He created the world, and ended up resting after the incredible work of creation was completed. In a similar way, our Lord entered Jerusalem resting on a donkey, a sign that He came to bring peace and rest to our lives and ended by finishing His work on the cross and rising again to confirm these truths. It is just an amazing story of how wonderfully the Lord connects creation and redemption together into one seamless and beautiful narrative of His love.

But the hidden storyline of Palm Sunday is the fact that Jesus carefully waited exactly 3½ years until He was willing to receive the tremendous public praise of being their king from the huge crowds. Until that time, our Lord never wanted to have any notoriety from the people. As a matter of fact, our Lord told people many times during His ministry not to bring any attention to Him. We see this pattern often happening after some of His greatest miracles such as the resurrection of Jairus's daughter in Mark 5:41-43. The text tells us,
He (Jesus) took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (which means "Little girl, I say to you, get up!"). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
You will note that after a miracle like that the entire community could have been turned upside down, yet our Lord told people to say nothing. And so, for the course of our Lord's ministry the wonders and amazing things He did received little if any press by design; it was kept low key if not altogether hidden. But as Palm Sunday arrived our Lord got on the donkey and let the crowds publicly sing His praises before the whole world with no restraints, as we see in all four Gospel narratives like Luke 19:38-40,
"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"
"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."
Jesus even told the religious leadership that everyone should be praising Him and honoring Him as king on that day because it was finally time to do so. But what was so special about Palm Sunday? Was there something going on about this day that Jesus knew about, and the crowds did not? The answers to those very important questions lie in properly defining what kind of king Jesus would be for the world. Most kings in human history have inherited their thrones or taken them by force, but not one single sovereign in history ever gained their throne as king the way Jesus did. You see the message of Palm Sunday was that Jesus was a different kind of king. Our Lord would not force people to serve Him, but rather would serve them first. Jesus would be the only king in history that would serve His people by dying for the sins.

Palm Sunday marked the day that Jesus would be publicly declared and selected to be their savior. You see Palm Sunday was also the same day that Jesus was chosen to die for them as their Passover lamb. Palm Sunday perfectly fulfills the original Passover story in Exodus 12, where the Lord tells Israel that they needed to select a Passover lamb before they sacrificed it on Passover. The Bible wonderfully prepares us for Palm Sunday about 1400 years before our Lord ever got on that donkey as we hear in Exodus 12:3-4,
Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month (Palm Sunday) each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat.
So before Jesus could have His kingdom He needed subjects that would leave the world of the Pharaohs, Caesars and their petty realms behind. Those same subjects needed a Passover Lamb to be chosen for them so they could enter a new realm, a new kingdom that would last forever because sin had been forgiven. That was the kingdom Jesus came to start that first Palm Sunday.

As a result, it turns out that the heart of Palm Sunday is a sacrificial love story of a king for His people. Our Lord rode into Jerusalem as the Passover lamb to serve us as our savior, not just a king to be served. It was the same model of servanthood our Lord had spoken and talked about throughout His public ministry in places like Matthew 20:25-28 where we hear our Lord saying,
Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Palm Sunday gives us the true model of leadership that all authority in the world must be based on servanthood. Our world today is in chaos because some people are trying to take power by any means to get people to serve them and their selfish interests. Many have forgotten that all leadership is earned by servanthood. Our Lord Jesus came into the world and humbled Himself by being selected as the Lamb of God that would die on the cross. That sacrificial gift was the only basis that would allow Jesus to be chosen as the rightful king. Jesus waited until Palm Sunday to receive all the praise and honor due to a king to ensure it would be forever tied in the people's minds to what the foundation of a true king needed to be based upon. Without the gift of love, service and sacrifice modeled by the Lord on Palm Sunday there is no way that authority and power can have meaning and last forever. Our Lord did it first as His redemptive gift to us, and secondly to provide a model for us as well with how we are to live as His people with others.

So on this Palm Sunday weekend, it is a good time to take stock of our lives and ask a few key questions. Have we accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our Passover Lamb and King? Do we have a sacrifice for our sins? Have we bowed to our Lord as our King, no matter what the governments of this world might say? Long after this world and its rulers come to an end, our Lord will remain King of Kings and Lord of Lords forever. That is just wonderful and amazing news this weekend and forever. May our hearts cry out with the crowds on that amazing Palm Sunday by saying today, "Hosanna in the highest, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." forever more.

Finally, the Lord Jesus Christ was selected to be our King that first Palm Sunday, but His reign was the shortest in history. Our Lord's reign over the world was cut short by the cross. The only "official" crown our Lord got to wear was a crown of thorns. And yet, our Lord's Kingdom is coming soon to this earth. All the signs are there. Do you see them? Our Lord is coming back to rule and reign over this world and on that glorious day there won't be any competitors. May each of us live with joy and anticipation as we look forward to that Day when our King is crowned and His reign continues forever more.