The plot has been written, the cast of characters set, the time line established. Behold, your king is coming! As the Passover approaches and crowds from all over the world gather at Jerusalem, the stage is set for the most important seven days this world has ever witnessed. Behold, your king is coming! Lazarus has been raised from the dead, and some are now buzzing with growing excitement while others mutter and plot a royal assassination. Behold, your king is coming … and when He comes things will never be the same again!
(12-18) The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel! And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt! His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.
Behold, your king is coming! Two crowds converge around our Lord this day. John tells us that one crowd swells out from Jerusalem when they hear of His approach. They have come to see what the fuss is all about. The other follows behind Him, giving witness to all He has already done. But this day had been long foretold. This day, itself, was to be a clear sign from God. Yet if even the disciples don’t fully understand the importance of all they see, we should not be surprised that the crowds don’t either. There is a lot of celebrating and rejoicing, but with no real idea of what’s going on, or what this is all leading to. Those who flock to Jesus this day had either seen the raising of Lazarus first hand, or heard reports of it … and who wouldn’t then come out to see what this was all about? Caught up in the here and now, the hustle and bustle of a busy life, very few, if any had the Old Testament prophecies of Zechariah on their minds. They only had eyes for what they could see before them.
And what do they see when these two crowds come out to meet Jesus? They see the King of Israel: Is He not riding a donkey, the ancient sign of royalty among Israel’s kings? They cut and wave Palm branches, like a ticker-tape parade, these branches are a sign of celebration and victory reserved for a hero and king. They cry out “hosanna” … save us now! and “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the king of Israel!”
Yes, they have come out to meet their king. They have come out to greet the one who will be their salvation. They have come out to welcome the One who comes with all blessings from God … but still without fully understanding what this means! They are ready for a fight, they are ready for the miracles, they are ready for the glory … but they won’t get it … at least not in a way they will recognize. For their hearts are not on the Word of their God. They have come out to see a king who can take away their suffering, ease their hunger, heal their wounds, give them life beyond their years. They praise the king who will finally make their life worth living!
Boy won’t they be disappointed! For this Jesus is a king unlike any other before or since. He has come in their midst to bring healing and life and salvation, yes, but to do it not by alleviating suffering and grief, but through suffering and grief. (Philippians2:8-11) He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. In the pattern of Jesus’ kingship, Death must come before life, the cross before the resurrection. And so it remains in our lives even now.
Behold, your king is coming … let us too come out to meet Him! The story is written, the characters set, the stage is ready for the most important seven days of your life. Behold, your king is coming! Today marks the beginning of Holy Week, the biggest and most involved celebration in our Christian calendar. Yet for all the preparation we have been doing through Lent, how many will take up the celebrating and rejoicing of Easter Sunday without fully realizing the full depths of its meaning? Caught up in the here and now, the hustle and bustle of our busy life, it can be easy for our hearts to lose their focus on the Word of God.
In a world that is so often difficult and troubling there is a temptation to seek out a Jesus who eases our hunger, heals our wounds, and gives us life beyond our years. There is the urge to use Easter to erase the suffering that is with the glory that will come. There is the temptation to expect only miracles, and strength and glory in return for our faith. And if this is what we have come to see in our Lord, boy won’t we be disappointed!
Behold, your king is coming … and when He comes things will never be the same again! For He will come in humbleness, wearing an apron and washing His disciples’ feet. He will come in the unassuming means of Bread and Wine. Yet in that Holy Meal he will serve his followers with forgiveness, and faith … a foretaste of eternal life, and salvation. He will cement His vows to them, and us, from that day on till the day appointed for His glorious return.
He will come to face the dark night of the soul, and torments of both body and soul. He will come to stare into the face of hatred and apathy. He will come to be sorely wounded, knowing suffering and grief beyond compare. Yet in that suffering He will sanctify our suffering. He will not take it away, but will share it with us, helping us to bear the burden and rejoice in the outcome. He will come to die, that by death He might conquer death. That through death, he might bring life eternal. He will come to give meaning to our death, and a new way to live life because of it.
Behold, your king is coming … let us come out to meet Him … in the good and the bad. In the praise and in the suffering. In death and in life. Let us come out and meet Him in His Body and His Blood. In the Lord’s Supper and the Garden of Gethsemane. Let us come out to meet Him before princely rulers and angry mobs. Let us come out to meet Him in the dark hours of the night, and our moments of weakness and doubts. Let us come out to meet Him at the cross, and in the tomb. Only then, will we be truly ready to meet Him at the resurrection, and in all the glorious days ahead. Today is a day to celebrate for Behold, your king is coming … and when He comes things will never be the same again!