"Not Our Kind of King" - Palm Sunday
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Delivered By
Pr. David Fleener
Delivered On
March 25, 2018 at 10:45 AM
Central Passage
Mark 11:1-11

Pr. David Fleener

Sermon: Palm Sunday B – March 25, 2018

Mark 11:1-11


Not Our Kind of King


              When Jesus came into Jerusalem, what kind of a procession was it? Was it grand, with throngs of people lining the streets, waving palm branches, shouting hosannas? What kind of people were there? Were they respectable folks? Or were they people at rock-bottom, with nothing to lose? The poorest of the poor, used and abused by both secular and religious leaders? What did those with authority think when Jesus marched into Jerusalem that day?


              Probably something along these lines. “Nothing will come of it.” “Here comes another would-be king.” “He’s just in it for the publicity.” “What an egomaniac!” “How stupid! What terrible timing! Doesn’t he know he could bring the wrath of the government down on us?” “Another troublemaker to dispose of.” “Totally staged. All of it.”


              Meanwhile, the real procession was likely going on across town. Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, in their book The Last Week, postulate that it was typical for Rome to assert its military might at the start of Passover week. Since Passover was (and is) a festival commemorating the liberation of Israel from a foreign power, the potential for civil unrest was high. So Rome likely put on a parade on the other side of the city from Jesus – a parade filled with military horses, flashing swords and spears, gleaming armor. The “best people” were at that parade. “Respectable” people. While the rabble were at Jesus’ little parade, everyone who was anyone was likely at the other parade.


              Jesus was never going to be the kind of king that the world wanted. He was never going to be “our kind of king”.


              Our kind of king would have looked the part. He would have gotten some hair and makeup people. He would have looked like Diogo Morgado. Prophecy or no, he wouldn’t have settled for a donkey – he would have come in on a beautiful steed – a symbol of power and potency. He would have had a sword at his side, with thousands of armed followers. He would have echoed the ancient kings – handsome, charismatic, violent.


              But that’s not Jesus. And that’s not our God. Jesus never compels people to believe in him. He never compels people to love him. He certainly makes it possible for us to love and believe in him – our will would be bound to follow only power and glory otherwise. But he never forces us. No, he sets before us a choice. Follow the road which worships power and glory – the road of Rome and of every empire that has existed from the beginning of time; or follow the road of the cross, the road of the Christ, which is paradoxically the only path that leads to life.


              Jesus is truly our Lord and King. But he will never be the king our sinful selves want him to be. He will always be the king who lays down his life for his subjects; who goes to the front lines against the powers of evil himself. He will always be the king who keeps directing us away from the ever-present lure of glory and back to the road of the cross. He will make us new people who refuse to worship power for its own sake. Rather, he will be our King and God for his own sake.


              As we begin Holy Week, remember that this entire week is a microcosm of the Christian life. We follow Jesus in the Palm Sunday procession, which turns out to be the road to the cross. We eat with him at the Last Supper on Thursday, and watch him die on Friday. But that is not the end of the story. It begins again on the following Sunday – the Sunday where life triumphs over everything evil can throw at it.


              God grant us all a meaningful and deeper understanding of Christ and his way this week. Amen.


© 2018, David M. Fleener. Permission granted to copy and adapt original material herein for non-commercial purposes with appropriate credit given.