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Jesus is King!

"The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!” John 12:12-19

This was it! The moment they had all been waiting for. The prophecies of the long-awaited King who would come in power were being fulfilled. People flooded the streets, filled with excitement, to greet Jesus as He rode through the city of Jerusalem. As He made His way down the street, palm branches formed a beautiful display of devotion at His feet. Can you imagine the joy in their hearts? After years of being oppressed by Rome, their deliverer had finally come and would lead them to victory! “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!” Their shouts filled the streets and their praise could not be contained. The people were desperate for salvation and success. They wanted their long-awaited Savior to continue his procession into the city to defeat Rome. They wanted to be free from Gentile oppression, once and for all. They welcomed Jesus into their cities and their lives to be ruler. Unfortunately, the warm welcome was short-lived as the Jewish people realized that Jesus' agenda was different than theirs.

Jesus came in a way that the Jewish people didn’t expect: here was Israel’s promised king, riding on a donkey, not the noble warhorse they might've expected. He arrived in the clothes of the poor and meek, not in royal robes. Their expectations of a physical King were met with the reality of a humble servant who wanted to be Lord of their lives. After all, His is not a kingdom of armies and splendor but of love and grace. He came to be ruler of hearts and minds, not just nations. His message is one of peace with God, not a promise of earthly peace. And so, the same people who hailed Him as King with their shouts and hosannas, quickly turned on Him. When Jesus failed to meet their expectations, their hosannas would change to cries of “Crucify Him!” (Luke 23:20-21). Those who hailed Him as a hero would soon reject and abandon Him. Imagine Jesus, sitting on the back of the donkey, riding through the streets that day. He knew that this triumphal entry was ushering in His last days on earth. He knew that the very people who cried "Hosanna"(save us) would be the very ones who would shout "Crucify Him" only days later. He was soon to face the darkest day humanity had ever known, and yet he continued on in love and obedience because He already knew the way the story would end. He knew that His dominion would secure salvation for those who couldn't understand.

I would like to say that if I had been on the streets of Jerusalem that day, my response would've been different. I would like to believe that following the signs and wonders of Jesus' ministry would have been enough. That his message of repentance through grace and love would have made it's way into my heart and mind. That I would've continued in my worship and praise when I realized that He came to be Lord of my life, not just King of this world. But, just like the Jewish people, I often lose heart and become frustrated when my expectations aren't met, when my prayers aren't answered in the way I would've hoped. It's hard for me to trust Him when I don't know what tomorrow holds. You know what stinks about being a human? I only see in part(1 Corinthians 13:9). I don’t know what’s on the next page until I get there to live it. A few years ago, we walked through an emotional battle with our son. He was struggling with depressive thoughts that grew into a battle with anxiety. Nighttime was the hardest...he slept very little because his mind was racing with what-ifs and those thoughts would often end up in a full blown panic attack. Blake and I knew that it was a spiritual attack. We prayed daily that God would deliver him from the enemy's scheme. We spoke life and love over him. We read scriptures that spoke to who he was in Christ. I knew that God had the power to take the attack away in an instant. And everyday that He didn't, my frustrations grew. How could God allow my son, once filled with joy and enthusiasm, to battle anxiety and depressive thoughts? I, like the Jewish people, wanted Jesus to show up on my terms and in my timing. What I couldn't see was what God was developing in my son's heart during that season. God was building something in his character, a reliance on Jesus as Lord, even in the valleys of life. Our son learned how to cry out to God in worship and speak to the mountains that were in front of him. He learned how to war in the spirit. Most importantly, he learned who he was in Christ. He became confident of his identity in Christ and learned that NOTHING could separate him from the love of his Savior. Our son is now a force for the Kingdom. He is a bright light at school and in our community. He is able to encourage others who are walking through difficult seasons. While I wish our son could've been spared from the struggle of that season, I'm so grateful for what God built in him.

So, while it’s true that I can’t know what’s coming tomorrow or the next day, I can trust Him. While it's true that I don't always understand His ways or His timing, I can be still and know that He is God(Psalm 46:10). I may not be able to see the end of the story, but I can shout Hosanna today and allow Him to be the King of my heart, trusting that He sees and He always has. Palm Sunday reminds us that the reign of Christ is far greater than any the mind of man could ever conceive or plan. This is the greatness of why we celebrate this week!


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