Here Comes the King! Oh Lord, Save Us!
Updated: May 28, 2021
Over a decade ago, I had the privilege of walking along the route that Jesus traveled when he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. My classmates and I joined the crowds of tourists visiting for Holy Week, clergy from many branches of Christianity making the annual pilgrimage, and people from numerous cultures and places. We walked from the Mount of Olives into the city of Jerusalem. It was loud. There were people dancing with tambourines, guitars, and boomboxes. Others were singing at the top of their lungs. We got a bit jostled, trying to keep pace with the hurried crowd, but it was exciting, joining in with the multitudes who had been reliving the king’s journey for the past 2000 years.
We waved palm branches, reenacting the events of so long ago when the people were celebrating the homecoming of their own king. As a student pointed out, they probably didn’t have red carpets back then. Even riding on a donkey was a reminder of an ancient prophecy foretelling the return of the king. “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).
I wonder what they must have been thinking. This man, Jesus, clearly had potential. He was amassing followers, doing incredible miracles (like feeding large crowds and healing people), and he was unafraid to speak out against the powers that be. Could it be that their king was finally here?
The Romans had oppressed them for too long.
They had no voice.
The world was far from what God had promised.
Today, the news is filled with stories of police violence and school shootings. We struggle with depression and fear of deportation. We find ways to escape through video games and various substances. And we cry out to God, do you hear us? Now would be the time for you to send someone to save us!
And so the first century Jews cried out to God as the Israelites had in Egypt. Or as they had when they were in the Promised Land being tormented by the Philistines. Wasn’t it time for God to send a Deliverer, a King from the line of David, a Savior, someone to break the grip of Rome and lead God’s people. They were ready to make Jesus their king, as they marched into the city, singing his praises. Could this be the day of deliverance? Could he be the one they had long awaited?
As the story continues, we will find that things didn’t go as they had hoped. The people so full of hope became quickly disillusioned by a would-be king who didn’t meet their expectations. We are quick to point out how so often what we hope for isn’t what we need and that what this king actually did for his people was so much better, but for a moment, can we just stop and hope? Hope that God does see our broken world. Hope that he sees us. And hope that today just might be the day that the king will ride into town and change everything!
Today, let’s hope.