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As they approached Jerusalem, they came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. - Matthew 21:1 (NLT)
It was the beginning of the end. Jesus and His disciples neared Jerusalem, the place where He would be crucified. It was the most important week in human history. He would finally do what He came to do--die on a cross and rise from a grave--two events that would change the world forever.
Ever wonder how He felt? I do. I don’t see him pumping His fist and giving high-fives. I believe He was somber, determined. His eyes were on Calvary, not the crowds. But the people? Well, they were beside themselves with excitement. There were convinced Messiah had come to crush their Roman oppressors, yet by the end of the day all He’d done was turn over a few tables in the temple, and quietly leave town. (Matthew 21:17) The crowds, and maybe even His disciples, had gone home disappointed. Coronation Day never materialized.
Jesus doesn’t always meet our expectations, does He? We pray for healing; it doesn’t come. We ask God to save our marriage, and end up in divorce court. His own disciples wanted Jesus on a throne; He chose a Cross. They wanted a conquering King; He came a lowly servant. A week after they shouted, “Hosanna” (meaning “save us now!”), He was dead. So what do we do when God doesn’t make sense? I have three suggestions:
Trust Him anyway. When you can’t trust the circumstances, trust HIM. That’s not a feeling; it’s a choice. Big difference.
Know that He understands. The most powerful Bible verse contains two words: “Jesus wept.” That means He understands; He cares. The things that break your heart, break His.
Cling to hope. We can face anything as long as there’s hope. Guess what? In Christ, there’s always hope. (Colossians 1:27)
See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey. - Matthew 21:5 (NIV)
I don’t know much about donkeys, but I do know this, they’re not that cool of an animal. There are 20,500 public high schools in America, and only one, Bray-Doyle High School in Bray, Oklahoma, has a donkey as a mascot. Other animals are cooler--Eagles, Tigers, Bulldogs, Wildcats, Panthers, and the like. Of course, when the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, after firing blanks for 108 years, they didn’t ride donkeys through the streets of Chicago!
But in Jesus’ day, lots of people rode donkeys, mainly common people--farmers and laborers. Conquering Kings? Nope, they rode stallions, or sat pompously in luxury chariots. Think Cadillacs, Mercedes, Bentleys and Rolls-Royce--you get the picture. But Jesus, King of King and Lord of Lords... entered Jerusalem on a lowly donkey. Amazing.
Ever wonder what the donkey was thinking as the crowds cheered and sang praises? As they laid their coats and palm fronds on the ground before him? As they shouted and sang praises? I’m told that donkeys are fairly intelligent animals. I wonder if perhaps, for a fleeting moment, ole’ Eeyore might’ve thought it was about him! All the festivities, the whole parade… about him.
The reality, as we know, is that the donkey was just part of the support cast. He merely carried the Star who introduced the world to the scandalous love of God. Jesus was the prize, then and now. In fact, all of life is about Him! And as we lift Him up, some in the crowd come to know our Lord. What a high and holy privilege is ours!
Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey. His next entrance will be on a horse, a white horse to be sure. On that day the Father will say, “Gabriel, blow your trumpet. Son, mount your horse. It’s time.” He’s coming again! May I ask a personal question? Are you ready to meet Him? Call us (859-224-1600) and let us help. Now is the time, friend. Do it.Share Tweet
See, your king comes to you, gentle…. - Matthew 21:5 (NIV)
Did you know that Jesus describes Himself only once in Scripture? It’s Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart....”
We don’t hear much about gentleness these days. Most consider it “uncool” to be gentle. We equate it with weakness, and like so many other things, we tend to criticize what we don’t understand. The Greek word means “strength under control.” I like that definition. If I pick up an expensive piece of crystal or a fine work of art, I’ll be gentle, not because I have to be, but because I should be. It takes both wisdom and strength to be gentle. Jesus had both.
Are you gentle? If not, why not? Do you ever exclaim, “I’ll speak my mind whether people like it or not!” Can I ask a question--is that working for you? Do your coworkers love that about you? Does that make family members feel closer? Don’t misunderstand. I believe in “speaking the truth in love,” as the Bible says, but it’s best done with gentleness, not harshness. Paul wrote, “Let your gentleness be known to all.” (Philippians 4:5) Excellent advice.
When I think of people who are gentle, I think of those who:
are emotionally healthy.
are sensitive to others’ ideas and opinions.
aren’t threatening with speech or actions.
respond rather than react
don’t bear grudges.
are usually great listeners.
bring peace into relationships.
What do you think of? Perhaps there’s never been a time when our world needs gentleness more. Paul calls it a fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:23) Producing the fruit of the Spirit is a process; because walking with the Spirit is a lifestyle. No one gets holy in a hurry. We don’t microwave maturity. It’s not about trying, it’s about abiding. (See John 15:5-11)
“Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” - John 12:13 (NIV)
Have you ever heard of Henk Otte? He was a middle-aged, unemployed man, living on welfare in the Netherlands, a wife and two kids, an absolutely ordinary man… until he became a king. In 1995, while visiting West Africa with his wife, his life radically changed. Local leaders there told Otte that he was the reincarnation of their deceased tribal chief. After 17 years with no chief, the Ewe tribe, 100,000 people strong, made Otte their king.
So back home, he’s Henk Otte. But in Africa, he’s “Togbe” (meaning “king”). People celebrate his arrival. Throne-bearers carry him through excited crowds. Drums play, dancers spin. He wears a crown and lives in a specially built home. It’s hard to imagine a less likely king.
But there was one. He grew up in a small town in the middle of nowhere and worked for years at a no-glamour carpenter job. Then at age 30 He started preaching from town to town, talking about God. He said things like, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) He did miracles, healed the sick, even raised the dead. “No one ever spoke like this man,” the people said. (John 7:46) Indeed, there’d never been anyone like Him before… or since.
But eventually, He ran into some trouble with the authorities for claiming that He was… you guessed it… a king! That got Him crucified...but then something astounding happened: He rose again! And that astonishing miracle changed the world. It also changed my life, perhaps yours too. We call this man, “Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords,” and we rightly say, “Long live the King!”
Those who know Jesus understand He didn’t come to rule on a throne; He came to rule in our hearts. Henk Otte?--He’s a pseudo-king. Jesus?--The real deal. They call Mr. Otte, “Togbe.” Jesus has at least fifty names. You can see them here. I like 24 best. What’s your favorite?Share Tweet
The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” - Matthew 21:11 (NIV)
Is there anything more fickle than a crowd? I remember when basketball superstar, LeBron James, left Cleveland to play for the Miami Heat in 2010. Fans were furious. They tore their once-beloved #23 jerseys off their backs and set them ablaze. They threw rocks at billboards bearing his image. They called him the “ultimate traitor.” They called his departure a “slap in the face” to the city that had supported him since High School. “We’re done with him forever,” was a common sentiment. But then he came back to Cleveland four years later. “This is the happiest day of my life,“ one fan said. A well-known journalist wrote, “Hail to the Prodigal King. I admire LeBron greatly and I wish he was the President. Think how much better off all people would be in this country." Really?
Here’s the rub: The only thing that matters to a crowd is this: “What have you done for me lately?” That’s “Understanding Crowds 101.” It’s also “Understanding Crowds 201, 301, and 401.” So why do we crave admiration from the crowd? Why do we buy cars, houses, and other stuff hoping that total strangers will think well of us? (I have news for you... they actually don’t care!) But we think they do, so we play the game anyway. After all, the ads on TV prove it, right? No friend, the only thing a crowd proves is this: There’s a crowd. That’s it! Nothing more, nothing less. In reality, crowds mean nothing at all.
So when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey that day, the crowds went wild. They were printing “Messiah” t-shirts as fast as they could sell them. “The revolution” has arrived! We’re all in!” A week later they shouted, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him,” then they did. No remorse whatsoever. None. All the while, Jesus played to an audience of One. How about you?