Read Mark 11:1-11
11 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, “Why are you doing this?” say, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.”’
4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, ‘What are you doing, untying that colt?’ 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’
10 ‘Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!’
‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
Jesus was no longer elusive. Jesus was no longer avoided the crowds. Any ambiguity disappeared on the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Having walked from Galilee he had no real need of a donkey. Jesus orchestrates a grand entrance, a piece of prophetic theatre, at last the King was moving on the capital. The King was coming home. God’s presence was returning to the temple. His righteousness and salvation was at last coming being fulfilled but not how the people expected.
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey. –Zechariah 9:9
Israel’s messiah has returned. The street choir shout “Hosanna”, “Save Us”.
Lord, save us!
Lord, grant us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
From the house of the Lord we bless you. – Psalm 118:25-26
Jesus confounds expectations…
He enters with the song of thanksgiving in his ears. You can feel the excitement. However, Excitement turns to an anticlimax. Mark builds our expectations that now Jesus will do what he was sent for. Then there’s an anticlimax. He goes to the temple but its late so he looks around and leaves. What? Excuse me? That’s not right! Jesus is not a tourist, He is the returning king inspecting the temple to judge it not to restore it.
The crowd shout Nationalistic slogans about the restoration of the power and glory of the Davidic kingdom. The crowd have heard about Lazarus. They want to see more. “Could this be the one? Is this the Messiah? Are we about to rise up against the Romans?” Each year they celebrated their national independence by celebrating Passover. But now they were under the dominion of the Romans. The crowd are celebrating the anniversary of their national independence at a time when they’re no longer independent but occupied by the Romans
Then comes Jesus riding in on a donkey, visibly fulfilling ancient Jewish prophecies about the coming kingdom of God. By riding into town on a donkey as the people waved palm branches and shouted Hosanna, Jesus was throwing petrol onto the fire of an already tense situation.
John the Baptist had had expectations of Jesus. They were similar to the popular view. He had thought Jesus was the one, but was he? He had to know. Perhaps John expected God’s Kingdom to come with violence and power, humiliating the Romans, toppling Herod’s throne, and exalting the nation of Israel to national greatness. The people of Jesus’ generation couldn’t imagine God’s kingdom coming without a sword in their hands drenched with Roman blood?
The disciples expectation of the king was to eliminate the enemy to resuscitate the ancient glory of Israel. These hopes and expectations come crashing down as the king surrenders without a fight, a tame, timid king. In less than a week their ‘Messiah’ will be lead out of the city to suffer and die, extinguishing nationalistic hope. Disillusioned, resentful. They expected to reign with their Messiah on thrones made just for them. Yet they scattered, their ecstasy in the entrance of the king would become grief and sorrow at the entrapment of their king. He journeyed westward towards the setting sun as he entered Jerusalem, in 5 days time he will continue his journey westward out of the city, as a defeated captive, to Golgotha where he will be executed. And then the sun will set. Extinguished.
Jesus expected open confrontation with the religious leaders. He truly expected to suffer and die. The religious leaders were expecting him, (see John 11: 55-57) and gave orders that if he was seen they should be told so that they could eliminate this man.
Next week we celebrate Easter. Easter is not really about the death of Jesus it’s about the king who won the ultimate victory. The crowd and the disciples were right. The Messiah’s Kingdom would be greater than David’s Kingdom. He had come to establish an eternal kingdom. He won the ultimate victory to establish a kingdom that was more powerful than the Davidic monarchy and more far reaching than the Roman Empire. The crowd and especially the disciples did not understand his mission or purpose. Jesus established a kingdom that you and I are a part of. When we become followers of Jesus we enter into an eternal kingdom. And we live out this life in the mystery of both the ‘Now’ and ‘Not-Yet’ of the Kingdom.
What are your expectations of your king? Do you have wrong expectations of your king?
Are you prepared to expect the unexpected? Do you expect to see the Kingdom Come?