What is a King?

Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

While I’m really put off by his gutter humor, Eddie Murphy is a seriously gifted actor, and I particularly enjoyed his work with Arsenio Hall in the 1988 movie, Coming to America. One of the humor tensions of the movie revolves around the role of James Earl Jones who plays King Jaffe Joffer, ruler of Zalmunda. No one seems to know or agree how to comport themselves around this visiting monarch. Some people’s behavior borders on worship, while others fear him and some, not knowing who he is, come at him from a position of utter disrespect. How does one behave around a king?

While the Bible never calls it this, those who embrace the Christian faith commonly refer to the next several days as “holy week” as we chronicle the events that led up to the crucifixion of our Lord and King, Jesus. The week revolves around the Passover Feast, one of three annual events which find several million Jews surrounding the city of Jerusalem. Jesus enters the city in a way that carries tremendous significance. He does this on the day we call Palm Sunday, and that’s the day we look at now.

The Romans who rule over the Jews tolerate many of the behaviors of the Jews because it is easier to let some things go, so long as the oppressed people continue to pay their taxes. The Roman ignorance of the Hebrew scriptures had to have left them a little puzzled by what was happening as Jesus entered Jerusalem. Granted, at an event that attracted millions, it is likely that relatively few saw this happen, but had those who did see it realized what was actually happening, they may have intervened.

What the Romans didn’t realize is that Jesus came into Jerusalem as a King, and the people acknowledged him as such. They greet him with Palm branches, a practice that the intertestamental writers confirm was used to welcome military victors. They shout to him, “Hosanna!” a shout not of praise, but almost an imperative, “Save us!!” The entry of Jesus to the city of Jerusalem is believed to be the answer to every nationalistic, messianic expectation of the populace. This Messiah was expected to ride in as a political liberator, one who will get the boot of the Romans off the neck of the Jews! The celebration with the Palms, the cloaks on the ground, and the man on the donkey is a coronation march, one we often call the “Triumphal Entry.”

What intrigues me about this celebrative mood on Sunday is how quickly it changes to cries of, “Crucify Him” by the end of the week. The same people throwing their cloaks on the ground were screaming less than a week later, “His blood be on us and on our children.” How quickly we turn on our “saviors” when they turn out to be something other than what we want or expect. Jesus IS King, and we need to let the King set the parameters of the relationship. Unlike most rulers, politicians, or dictators, our King is so completely for us, and on our side that he died for us. But he IS our King.

Hail King Jesus!

Victoriously in Christ!

– damon

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Damon Gray

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