On Palm Sunday, Christians around the world remembered how Jesus rode on a donkey into Jerusalem.
Crowds lined the roadway and gave him their version of the “red carpet treatment.” They laid garments and tree branches on the road in front of him. They cheered him on. They declared he was the one sent to free them from the domination of Rome.
What a fantastic day it was.
Coming in peace
However, there was a little confusion. Jesus was riding a donkey, not a horse.
Why would that be confusing? Because of the symbolism.
In that day, whenever a king rode into someone else’s territory on a horse — in this case, Jesus was entering Roman-dominated territory — it meant the king was coming to engage in war to overthrow current ruling powers.
If a king rode into someone else’s territory on a donkey, it symbolized the king was arriving in peace. There was no intention to engage in hostilities.
On that day, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, declaring he was arriving in peace, not with the intent to engage in war.
Still, many people expected him to rally everyone and overthrow Rome. Their expectations were high — and incorrect.
What expectations do you have of Jesus that actually don’t measure up to who he is and what he is attempting to do in your life?
Do you find yourself asking questions like:
●Why didn’t he let my team win?
●Why didn’t he heal so-and-so like I asked?
●Why doesn’t he end world hunger and eradicate diseases?
It can be difficult to remember that Jesus came into this world to do God’s will, not yours or mine.
Just a few days after Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, people realized that Jesus was not going to do for them what they expected and even demanded. He was going to do his Father’s will.
How did they respond?
In anger. They nailed him to a cross and watched him die.
How many different ways do we still crucify Jesus today? One is by turning away from him. Pouting when we don’t get our way. Ignoring him six out of seven days a week. Claiming to belong to him but do nothing to show it.
Celebrating the 'prince of peace'
On Palm Sunday, Christians rejoiceed at how Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey to proclaim God’s peace.
On Thursday, we remembered how a just, holy man was condemned to death by people he loved, but who were threatened by his diligence in obeying God’s, not humanity’s, desires.
Between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, get to the foot of the cross on which Jesus was nailed, so you will truly understand what it means when Jesus is declared King of kings and Lord of lords.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview’s pastor.