(Based on Matthew 21:1-11)
As thousands of pilgrims streamed into Jerusalem for the Passover Festival, there was among them one who drew special attention: Jesus of Nazareth. People had heard the stories from Galilee of how he taught with authority like no other, how he healed the sick, the lame and the blind, how he cast out demons and even raised the dead. These were things that indicated that Jesus was the long-hoped-for Messiah.
The word “Messiah” means “anointed one” in Hebrew and the early kings of Israel and Judah had olive oil poured on their head by a prophet as a sign that they had been chosen by God to lead his people. God’s people had been waiting for a Messiah for a long time. In a much earlier time, sin fractured the cosmos as a result of the rebellion of our first parents, and brokenness, pain, heart ache and death became normal in God’s once-good creation. That kind of sorrow over sin will make you long for a king who will come to overturn injustice, lift up the downtrodden and set things right. And God had promised again and again down through the centuries that he would send such a king. But no one knew when the Messiah would come. God’s people had been watching and waiting for ages.
So when Jesus rode down the Mount of Olive on the back of a donkey, the people welcomed him as King Jesus that day. They laid palm branched and cloaks on his path so that the feet of his royal steed would not have to touch the ground. They sang praises to God: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
We live in a time and place where, generally speaking, people are not looking for a Messiah. If we have any understanding of the political concept of monarchy it is only as a figure head that adorns our currency but has no real impact on our day-to-day lives. Our cultural stories of kings and queens are about pop stars who come to entertain us, not representatives sent from God to save us. With our wealth and prosperity, people tend to believe that we have no need for a Messiah.
And yet there are some people who are looking for a Messiah. Even in the province of Canada, where the percentage of religiously unaffiliated people is higher than any other region of Canada, there are people who are longing for something more than what they now have. They desire different things—it may be community, truth, healing or hope—but Jesus is the answer to them all.
And we have an amazing opportunity to make an eternal difference in the lives of others. We get to be salt and light in a dark and hurting world. But this is not something that we do ourselves. No, it is Jesus living his life in and through us that makes the way that we live attractive to others and moves them to consider following Jesus too.
So, for the sake of ourselves and those around us, we begin each day by kneeling before King Jesus and welcoming him to rule in our hearts once again.
(Shared at Walnut Grove Lutheran Church, on March 20, 2016.)