by Christopher Harbin

King on His Terms
Christopher B. Harbin
Zechariah 9:9-17; Luke 19:28-40

Today we celebrate Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We recall how the crowds cheered and hailed him as King. ''Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'' We can easily picture the procession with clothing and palms strewn on the way before him. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a young donkey--the king of peace, ushering in a new hope for the nation suffering under Roman oppression. It was a moment pregnant with hope, expectation, and dreams of a new reality.

Amid our own cheering, do we recognize the meaning of the scene? Do we understand the image of Jesus on the donkey? The crowds did not grasp the full message. The disciples did not grasp it either, at least not in Jesus' terms. As we hail Jesus as king, will we allow him to be the king he intended to be?

Zechariah spoke of the coming day when God would send peace upon Jerusalem. His words were often misunderstood, at least from the perspective in which Jesus recast them. Zechariah looked for a Messiah who would bring peace through the sword and military might. The words recorded in chapter nine are somewhat mixed in their outlook. It is hard to distinguish between peace through violence and peace through some other means. Perhaps this is because we are so accustomed to think of peace as the result of war-fighting off our enemies to achieve independence and freedom from foreign oppression.

Regardless of our expectations, such was not Jesus' way. Counter to our understanding and that of the people of his own day, Jesus rode into Jerusalem in peace and for peace. It was through his own gift of becoming a peace offering that he proposed to establish peace for Jerusalem and from Jerusalem to the entire world.

This was not exactly the way Zechariah had pictured it. It is a viable meaning of his words, but it is not their most obvious reading. Zechariah looked to Messiah as a conquering king. He anticipated ...

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