Palm Sunday: Do We Still Have “No King But Caesar”?

palmsIt’s Palm Sunday.  The day the church traditionally celebrates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem just days before his execution.  The sad irony of the story is of course,  that the  throngs of crowds who heralded  his coming kingship on Sunday will shortly be crying for his destruction on Friday.

The people wanted Jesus to be one thing…and they got another!

They wanted a king that would lead them into battle against their enemies

Instead they got a king that told them to love their enemies

They wanted a king that would vindicate Israel

Instead they got a king that loved Samaritans, sinners, and other…foreigners!

They wanted a king that would force all nations to acknowledge they were right

Instead they got a king who wept for Jerusalem and their failure to see the Kingdom of Heaven sitting right in front of them!

And now on Palm Sunday 2000 years later we have a tendency to think, “How could they have been so blind?”  I know that thought has crossed my mind.  But then another thought crosses my mind as well;

“Who are we kidding, if Jesus came in the same manner …we’d crucify him again.”

True, the ability to actually execute him has been eliminated (thank God for some progress), but he would be effectively ostracized by much of the Christian community.  Many pastors and church leaders particularly would come to despise him.

Why?

For the same reason the cheering crowds turned on Christ so many years ago…

“We have no king but Caesar”

“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is based on merely human rules they have been taught.

Isaiah 29:13

Although we speak about the Kingdom of Heaven from our lips, we still operate with the Kingdom of this World in our hearts.

Our expectation when Jesus returns is much like those living in Jerusalem that fateful Palm Sunday.  He will be OUR king and prove to everyone else that we were right after all!

But:

When he fails to love the things we love

When he fails to hate the things we hate

When he fails to take our side

When he fails to promote our agenda

We will discard him…and look for another!

Jesus had a way of offending people around him.  Many of his disciples at one point just up and left.  The things he was saying, many of his disciples were having a very hard time digesting.  Not the crowds of people mind you…his disciples.

From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”

 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

John 6: 66-68

Peter had a revelation.  Inside of him is waging a little war that wages in all of us.

Caesar or Christ?

Power reenforced by violence or Love reenforced through mercy and forgiveness?

Jesus presented the Kingdom of Heaven before the most learned and respected men of God at the time.  The religious leaders who claimed to love God and waited for the coming Messiah with a passion made their fateful choice when he actually came;

“We have no King but Caesar!”

They made their decision.  They missed the hour of their visitation.

My hope and prayer is that more and more of Christ’s disciples today would echo Peter’s confession and say, “Where should we go since it is YOU who are the King and bring the words of eternal life”

I leave you with a wonderful passage from the book of Zechariah

Shout and cheer, Daughter of Zion!
Raise the roof, Daughter of Jerusalem!
Your king is coming!
a good king who makes all things right,
a humble king riding a donkey,
a mere colt of a donkey
I’ve had it with war—no more chariots in Ephraim,
no more war horses in Jerusalem,
no more swords and spears, bows and arrows.
He will offer peace to the nations,
a peaceful rule worldwide,
from the four winds to the seven seas.

Zechariah 9:9–10 (Message Bible)

Peace and Happy Palm Sunday!

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