Reader: “Blessings on the King”
Response: “who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Scripture: Luke 19:28-40
After telling this story, Jesus went on toward Jerusalem, walking ahead of his disciples. As he came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he sent two disciples ahead. “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying that colt?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”
So they went and found the colt, just as Jesus had said. And sure enough, as they were untying it, the owners asked them, “Why are you untying that colt?”
And the disciples simply replied, “The Lord needs it.” So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for him to ride on.
As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen.
“Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!”
But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!”
He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”
Reader: The word of the Lord.
Response: Thanks be to God.
Just to give us a little context we retrace recent events. Jesus had raised Lazarus within the last week to ten days. Last night (Saturday) there was a party at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus to honor Jesus for the raising of Lazarus. Many people, both friends and the curious, came to see both Jesus and Lazarus. The day of the above passage is the next day, Sunday. Word has been circulating about Jesus’ raising a man from the dead and the Pharisees and Sadducees are plotting to do away with Jesus and with Lazarus as well. Jesus knows this will be his final week on earth. You’ll notice all this coming week, Jesus is completely in charge of everything. He sends two disciples to get a donkey, one on which no one had ridden . . . suitable for a king. He tells them what to say and it happens just as he said. You know the story quite well. I want to make a few observations. In his ride down the Mount of Olives, Jesus was announcing himself as Israel’s king. When kings rode donkeys, they were coming in humility, peace, and reconciliation. When they rode horses, they were coming in battle. A donkey was a royal, peaceful limousine as it were. King David, a thousand years earlier, had exited Jerusalem as king on a donkey, fleeing before his son, Absalom, who was attempting a coup, who was, incidentally riding a mule, an animal for war. What is also interesting, at some point in the future, the King of kings will again return to set up his eternal kingdom on a horse and the Mt. of Olives, the place of Christ’s Ascension, is a place of his return. As Jesus rode down the hill, great crowds gathered singing “hosanna!” (meaning ‘salvation now’) and waving palm branches as was typical in celebrating a hero, their king of Israel. What they sang is interesting. You’ll recall at the birth of Jesus, the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” Here the crowd is singing, “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in highest heaven! In both cases there is glory to God. The birth of Jesus was to bring “peace on earth,” a situation that lies yet in the future. But Jesus did bring “peace in heaven” through the cross as he brought reconciliation between God and human beings. It is ironic the people shouting these texts from the First Testament did not realize what they were saying. Within a few days many of them were yelling “crucify him!” when he did not conform to the people’s expectations as to what he should do in regards to the Roman occupations. Likewise, we need to be careful we don’t dictate how and when God should act.
Music: “Ride On King Jesus” Robert Shaw Festival Singers beautiful!
“Hosanna to the Song of David” Cambridge Singers
O Christ, the King of glory who didst enter the holy city in meekness to be made perfect through the suffering of death: give us grace, we beseech thee, in all our life here to take up our cross daily and follow thee, that hereafter we may rejoice with thee in thy heavenly kingdom; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit world without end Amen.
―Prayers for Easter, p.34