“The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: ‘Hosanna! “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” The King of Israel!’” (John 12:12-13)
Even though our country hasn’t had a king for more than two centuries, we Americans are still a bit fascinated with the concept of royalty. After all, we live the land of Disney, where every little girl dreams of becoming a princess.
We watch from “across the pond” as the British and European royals carry out their expected responsibilities…perhaps with a bit of envy for their privileges. Who wouldn’t love to be “king” or “queen” for a day? With all those riches, castles, and servants?
Yesterday, Palm Sunday, I pondered the lesson I had to teach to our church children’s group…that Jesus had arrived to become “King of our hearts.” As we made paper crowns and waved paper palm leaves together, I told the children about the events that launched Holy Week.
It’s a poignant story. It starts before Jesus heads out on his final trek into Jerusalem, as He visits the home of His good friends at Bethany—Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. Martha is in her element, busily serving dinner, while Lazarus sits at the table chatting with Jesus.
Then, something a bit awkward happens. Mary brings out an entire pound of very costly oil of spikenard (think concentrated honeysuckle). She anoints the feet of Jesus, wiping them with her hair. The whole house is filled with the fragrance.
Imagine the disciples watching this scene. Judas, who’s pilfering from the money box, objects to Mary’s gesture, suggesting the perfume could have been sold for charity. Jesus rebukes him, saying she had kept this gift just for Him…for His burial.
Jesus very plainly tells His followers that He’s on His way to die. But they’re still in denial. They’re expecting Jesus to enter Jerusalem triumphantly as a “king” and maybe rid their nation of the detested Roman tyrants once and for all. They’re ready to reign with Him.
The next day, Jesus fuels this expectation by instructing His disciples to bring Him a donkey to ride, fulfilling prophecies of a king arriving on such a mount. Also, because He’s from the lineage of David, He could claim a distant birthright to royalty.
So, Jesus comes into His final destination with all the festivities and hoopla that a sovereign would demand. Crowds gather, cutting off palm branches to wave over Him. They throw their treasured cloaks onto the dusty road as a “red carpet” for the royal parade. They’re shouting “Hosanna!” and drawing even more people into the noisy celebration.
If this were happening today, it would be all over social media and the news networks—everyone with their cellphones out, videoing every bit of the spectacle.
Jesus’ disciples are probably rather proud at the moment. They’re the royal bodyguard unit, running defense on all sides of Him. They’re with the King.
But shortly, all this elation is going to vanish…into chaos, despair, death.
Jesus is King for only one day. When He starts making waves…when He drives the money-changers and sacrifice-hawkers out of the temple…when He oh-so-unpolitely steps on the toes of the elitist leaders…His days are numbered. In just a few days, He’ll have His last supper with His close friends, one of whom will betray Him for money.
He’ll be abandoned, scourged, beaten, humiliated, weakened, insulted, and inflicted with unthinkable pain. He’ll be hung to die on a cross, taking every depravity of mankind into the grave with Him.
Hardly a fitting end for one who was so royally fêted only days earlier.
Jesus doesn’t meet the expectations of those around Him. His plans are far bigger than they, or we, could imagine.
Back at Bethany, Mary sees Him for who He is. She knows He’s the only true King, the One who has come for her—to give her forgiveness for her sins and offer her a place in His heaven—the One who will defeat death for her.
She treats Him as royalty in her home, anointing Him with the most expensive gift she owns. She readies Him for His kingly mission. In doing so, she acts a “princess” in her own right, as His daughter in faith.
Friend, have you invited Jesus to be King of your heart? Will you join the throng who worship Him as the living Lord, the One who has defeated death for you? Will you invite His royal favor upon your soul?
This Easter, come to the cross. Lift up your eyes to His throne in heaven, and lay your burden of sin and grief before Him. He, our royal Friend, will give you the same privilege He has reserved for all of His followers—a place with Him, seated at His royal table.
King Jesus, we bow at Your feet and worship You in all the glory of Your authority over us. May we ever remember that salvation is a gift from You, purchased for us by Your sacrifice on the cross. Give us grace this week to celebrate Your kingship and share our joy with others. In Your royal name, Amen.*
Next week: The Queens of Faith…
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© Copyright 2022 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
*To learn how you can know Jesus as Your Savior, Lord, and Friend, here’s some good news:https://lightbournecreative.com/good-news-for-you/