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Welcoming King Jesus to Jerusalem

Read Mark 11:1-11

As if it weren’t strange enough for Jesus to instruct his disciples to borrow a donkey for him to ride, we then find the crowds making a fuss over him riding into Jerusalem: “And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!’” (Mark 11:10-11)

Jesus certainly is a different kind of king. Put yourself in the disciples’ sandals: you just borrowed a donkey from a stranger; then, you watch as Jesus rides the donkey through the gates of Jerusalem; and then, a procession forms around Jesus, with people throwing coats and palm branches on the ground in front of him, welcoming him like a king; and finally, the people are shouting praises that sound like Psalm 118:25-26. You know that Jesus has received a lot of opposition from the religious leaders in Jerusalem, but, on this occasion, it seems that the whole city has come out to welcome the king who rides on a donkey.

Now consider Jesus’s perspective. He knows that his final destination is a Roman cross positioned just outside of this holy city. He knows that the religious leaders will coerce the Roman officials to condemn him to die, and he knows that they will stir up the mob in Jerusalem to call for his crucifixion. Yet, here is the crowd giving him a royal welcome. The mob is indeed fickle.

You and I have been called to be subjects of this unusual king, but does our allegiance to the humble King of Kings look like the Jerusalem crowds? Do we sing “Hosanna” on Sunday morning, begging him to save us, while the rest of the week we find ourselves with Peter denying that we know him, or with the religious leaders claiming that we have no king but Caesar?

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