Palm Sunday

Psalm 24, Zechariah 9:9-17, Mark 11:1-11

When it comes to the words victory and triumph, the cultural baggage that we bring along (specifically, US Americans) is more on the battle end of things. Whether it was a rugged political “fight”, the athleticism of sports, or the blood and sacrifice of our military, there is a strong intentional and intense personal victory and triumph over others, and often at the “others” loss (or lessening). Zechariah’s words are not that. A sad thing about English (and our baggage) is that we completely miss the passive nature of the victory and triumph. When the King comes humbly riding on a donkey (a beast of work, not of warfare like a horse), it is not just that the King is humble. It is also strongly implied that the victory and triumph were at the hands of God, not a person.

This is very important. In war, there is always a bigger loser. This bigger loser may take things to a whole new level. We can look at World War II as an example. Germany had been harshly penalized for losing World War I. Part of the whole reason that Hitler was able to stir the German people to follow him was by his using their diminished state as a source of determination and victimization. The penalties of World War I had left Germany in such an emotional and financial state that many thought, what did they have to lose. In other parts of the world where tribe loyalties are still paramount, the lessening of one’s tribe causes one to strive to overcome and diminish other tribes. We see that same effect here in our politics as various political tribes seek to diminish the humanity, heart, mind, and wisdom of the “other”.

The Messianic King was to be different. By not being militarily victorious, it is easier to be acclaimed and followed by more than one “side”. That does not mean, however, that people looking to be offended won’t be. The emphasis on God winning the battle, rather than the people, remains the overarching message.

By coming into Jerusalem riding on a donkey, Jesus is “pointing” to this same passage in Zechariah. Matthew (Matthew 21:5) is blunter (rather than Mark’s allusion), when he writes, “See, your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey…” Matthew makes sure we do not miss the Hebrew implications of Zechariah.

There is another small piece that we often overlook here, just as we often overlook it in our Christian walk. Jesus is entering Jerusalem as King, and not just any king. He is coming in as the saved and saving king, and God is the one who saved and is saving. Yet, while Jesus is coming in as king, the kingdom has not quite arrived. This is the tension. There is the kingdom that has come, is present, and is yet to come.

1) What does it mean to you that Jesus was your king/savior, is your king/savior, and will be your king/savior?

2) Why might it be important to have all 3 states (was, is, to come) in mind when it comes to your Christian walk/life?

3) How do Jesus’ humility and Zechariah’s emphasis on God doing the work (rather than a person) alter, or should affect, how you live out a Christian life?