Enter My King

“Enter My King” 
Matthew 21:1-11
Rev. Mark M. Vickers
Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017

21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”[a] 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[c] “Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!” 10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

The week begins! The week of “church!” The week we have been waiting for nigh on 40 days!! The week, which at the end, we can eat chocolate, drink Coke again, and resume our mottled and mangled life that we had before our Lenten journey.     

Well, my friends it may not be all that bad, or all that glorious, depending on how you look at it, but it is THE WEEK of the church, so to speak. We hope and pray that every week is a week of the church, but often times they are not given the same precedence as Holy Week. 

So, now we are excited, pumped up, ready to process with the King and make way through the week that is dotted with times and services of prayer, meditation, self-reflection, agony, tears, and pain!! Yet, knowing the “rest of the story” we have a slight anticipation that glory will reign and victory will triumph. However, if we move to that moment too soon, we lose sight of the magnificent beauty that this week offers to our Christian and spiritual growth.   

So what brings us to this week? What brings us to the start of the adventure that will break our hearts and then bring us back to the true connection of being alive with Jesus? How does this all start?

It starts with a parade! All good holiday weeks should start with a parade!! Pomp and circumstance, maybe a little bit of music, some pageantry, some nice modes of transportation, and of course, a special guest. You know, I always wondered, what if they put Santa Claus in the middle of the Macy’s Day Christmas Parade, what would happen? He always comes at the end, but he is there. A parade is a big thing! I grew up in circus country, about 30 miles from the Barnum and Bailey training center. The circus for us was an everyday occurrence but once a year, usually mid-spring, they would bring in the new animals. We would drive to Peru, Indiana and watch them depart the train. The little ones would scurry, the bigger ones would just slowly move along, but there was a procession about their debarking the train and moving to the tents. 

In our text this morning, we have a parade! A parade of a man called Jesus. Yet in this text, the reference is already made to “the Lord.” He is referred to as “your King” and not until the last verse is he mentioned as Jesus “the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” The parade preparations are made! Jesus sent the two disciples to find the donkey and the colt, echoing the prophetic proclamation made by the prophet Zechariah. Let the parade begin!  

Well, the parade has begun! The audience is set, the pathway, so to speak, is ready for the procession. Let it begin!   

Do we really think it was that simple?  Was it just going to “go off” like planned?      

Two theologians, Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, who had closed ties to one of our St. Timothy’s member, Dr. Barnes Tatum, write in their book, The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach about Jesus’ Final Days in Jerusalem, that this was not the only parade in town that weekend. In their fictional writing of this story, they propose what “could have been.” They suggest that on the “other side of town,” Pilot was parading in on his war horse, coming to Jerusalem to maintain order during what could be a huge Passover celebration. In their writings they present the necessary context, I would argue, that is absolutely possible for helping this text come true and come to life! 

For you see, this parade could not have happened without turmoil! This could not be a simple, “look at me” parade. It was a parade of action, manipulation, and most of all, proclamation! But if we read carefully when the parade was about to start and the entry began, in verse 10 we read, “the whole city was in turmoil.” Now, this makes Borg’s and Crossan’s story more plausible and possible. For the Greek word here for “turmoil” actually comes from the root ‘seismic’ as our friends on the West coast are familiar with. The city is actually shaking beyond belief because of the uproar.  

Therefore, they are in need of a King that will literally “save them!” Isn’t it interesting that in Matthew, Mark, and John (not Luke) we read, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” literally translated, “Save me, Son of David!” The great proclamation to set the pathway straight and save us as we have never been saved before. 

As our world has unfolded this week in so many ways, the proclamation of a Divine King set forth to save us becomes even more real. Provocations in the world, whether we see them as just or unjust, happen. Our responsibility as Christians, deeply involved in our Lenten journey and Holy Week movement, are called on to react, to think, to set straight the way in which Jesus would have us react. 

The beauty of this is that we are given a week of wonderful guidance and liturgy to become even more fully engaged in the life of Jesus. Our Holy Week liturgies are grounded in a strong sense of the Jewish sense of the present faith community being reminded of God’s ongoing liberating action!! 

Our parade this week sets us free!!