The Humble King (Lk 19:28-40)

Lots of people are fascinated by royality – many people are interested in kings and queens, princes and princesses. Huge crowds still turn out for royal weddings, coronations and jubilee celebrations. Think of all the attention given to Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle this time last year.

People were just as fascinated by royalty in Bible times too. Because 2000 years ago a crowd walked with King Jesus on his journey into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday.

Like the crowd at at a football match, the people around Jesus would have been noisy and excited. They were excited to be travelling with a man who had said and done some astonishing things. The Carpenter’s son from Nazareth had calmed storms, fed five thousand and even raised the dead!

Jesus’ fame had spread widely, and the words and actions of the crowd that day show that many expected him to become the new King of Israel.

  • For example, in verse 36 Luke tells us that some of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road before Jesus. Just as we lay down red carpet for a King, Queen or other important person today, people were showing great respect and reverence to Jesus.
  • Luke also tells us the words that the crowd were shouting as Jesus approached Jerusalem. We read in verse 38 that as he rode on a donkey the crowd shouted: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

You see, by their words and their actions the crowd showed that they thought Jesus was a king. A messianic king descended from David. A king who was entering the capital city to claim his throne.

A different kind of King…

But Jesus was no ordinary King and he was on no ordinary journey. On Palm Sunday Jesus showed himself to be a very different kind of King – A humble king who rode on a donkey not in a Cavalcade, or in a golden Carriage, on a Chariot.

Jesus was a humble king who wore his own modest clothes, not a richly adorned tunic, cloak or cape. A humble king who was going to wear a crown of thorns not a crown of gold.

By arriving in Jerusalem on a colt, Jesus was self-consciously and very deliberately fulfilling a prophecy by the prophet Zechariah. A prophecy given hundreds of years earlier, which said: “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Jesus was a king who showed his humility throughout his life, not just on his arrival in Jerusalem. His humility was evident when he:

  • When he ashed his disciples feet at the last supper.
  • When he ate with tax collectors, met sinners, touched lepers and healed many other types of unclean & unpopular people

And it wasn’t just Jesus’ humility that made him a different type of King. In his great book called “King’s Cross”, author Tim Keller lists half a dozen unexpected qualities of Jesus that we see in the Gospels:

  • He was gentle, yet also powerful
  • He was perfectly good, yet loved sinners
  • And, of course, He was human yet also divine.

…On a different kind of journey

So Jesus was a very different kind of king. He was also on a very different kind of journey. A journey that had a different beginning and a different end to your typical royal wedding procession or coronation march.

  • A different beginning

Royal events are great spectacles. Royal weddings and coronations take months or even years to prepare.

But Jesus journey into Jerusalem (and the all events of Easter) had a very different beginning. They were billions of years in the planning. The Bible tells us that even before the world began, it was God’s plan to send his Son on a rescue mission into our world.

Jesus’ journey was a rescue mission planned in eternity, which came to its climax on Palm Sunday and the events of Easter Week.

  • A different destination

When we see royal parades on TV today, Kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses are normally on a journey to be crowned, to get married or to celebrate their jubilee.

But Jesus’ journey was ultimately to a Cross, not to a Coronation or a Celebration. He was travelling to a place where, for our salvation, he would suffer and die – not to a throne room of a castle or the altar of a great Cathedral.

Jesus was journeying to a place where he WOULD win a great victory – but not over other countries, nations and armies – but over sin, death and the forces of evil. A great victory, to be celebrated and remembered forever – as we do, of course, every Easter.

Conclusion: Follow the crowd!

So, to finish, how should we respond to Jesus, this different kind of King who went on such a different kind of royal journey? The answer is that, on this occasion at least, we should follow the crowd!

Firstly, in the reading today the crowds laid down their cloaks and palm branches on the road as an expression of love, respect and honour to Jesus. Are we too prepared to lay our time, treasure and talents at his feet, in obedient service to him? Jesus laid down his life for us on the Cross. I hope we want to serve him wholeheartedly in joyful thanks for the salvation he secured for us.

At my ordination as a Church of England minister, I had to publicly pledge my loyalty to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth. As Christian men and women here today, I trust we have all already pledged our unswerving allegiance to His Majesty, King Jesus.

And finally, if Jesus is your King here today, then I hope you are moved to praise and adore him. When Jesus entered Jerusalem the crowd wanted to sing his praises and tell others all about him. I hope we want to follow that crowd, and proclaim King Jesus ourselves – with our lips and with our lives.

Phil Weston