On the dusty road between the villages of Bethpage and Bethany on a bright and sunny Sunday, Jesus rides on a colt down the slope of Mount of Olives into Jerusalem. The disciples were there, so was the crowd. They were shouting, “Hosanna, Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”. The crowds along the way greeted Jesus as a royal person and they were noisy about it. This surely is a king.
But what do you see?
A few days later we find this king in front of the Roman rulers, accused by the religious authorities and his own, denounced as a fake.
We stand in silence as the soldiers ridicule Jesus’ so-called kingship, shouting in their rough voices, “King of the Jews.” They are not praising him as the people did, but ridiculing this poor, ridiculous captive. They forcefully drive a kingly, mocking crown of thorns on his head. They wrap a fake purple robe—the color reserved for kings—around his wounds. They cackle like clowns. And they spit on him.
What a kingdom of God this had turned out to be. Why would the king of kings allow all this to happen? Perhaps the words of the ancient prophet Isaiah was on his mind –
“The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward. I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.”
These words represent a passive surrender. Is passive surrender a kingly action?
Perhaps, Paul’s words to the Philippians will help us to see. As the greatest king of all, Jesus was able to empty himself out, to become like a slave, obedient even to death on the cross. This is the complete opposite of kingliness as we think of it. It surely seems like a mockery of kingship. But Jesus shows us that the true leader lets go of everything in allegiance to God and in service of the people.
This truly must be the real basis of kingship – to serve the people, no matter what. The good ruler will pull a kingdom together and make it safe, a place of abundance .
Pastor Robert Chew