I remember when my children were younger. Everytime something happened in their development it was described as a stage
If the children wanted only warm milk it was a
If they would keep repeating a phrase or word it was a stage
If they would only wear a particular outfit it was a stage
The Word stage legitimized the actions of the child we dont need to worry about it" we would say, "its just a stage Once a child gets to certain age what was formerly called a stage becomes re-labeled as a fad. Nothing has changed objectively, we just label it differently. Fads are often seen as instability and preference; whereas, stages are seen a positive development and natural
I say this to highlight the power of definition with one definition we feel comfortable and normal with another definition we feel defective or sick. Nothing needs to change objectively just the definition. Definition is a powerful thing.
As we look to the texts today we see the power of definition and expectation in the lives of the disciples. We also see it in the crowd as they cried out: Hosanna! when Jesus rode into town. Let's look at the passage and define some attributes that followers of Jesus in every age can learn from. I will express them in terms of willingness.
The disciples made many mistakes in their time with Jesus. They misunderstood what he said. They misunderstood how to apply his teaching. They misunderstood his value system and and their estimation and worth of other people. It is to their credit in this story that we see them obey Jesus they followed exactly what Jesus asked them to do and say.
What is interesting when reading the original of this passage is the play on words. The same word that is translated as owners in v. 33 is used in the response of the disciples The Lord of it has need." Even an unsophisticated Greek reader would have seen this obvious play on words. Even though they were legal owners of the animal; Jesus lays claim to the animal as its ultimate owner.
The earth is the Lords, and everything in it.
The world and all its people belong to him.
Here we have a clear teaching of Jesus that level of ownership takes precedence over all others. Some people try to argue that Jesus made previous arrangements; but this arguments, while reasonable and possible, misses the entire point of the wordplay that Luke uses. Lukes point is that Jesus has Lordship over all creation. he is the King who is worthy of the Hossanas the attempt to rationalize how this event could have happened misses the point Luke is making.
The Disciples did not attempt long explanations they did not try to come with a better explanation they simply did what Jesus told them. They said The Lord has need of it and they proceeded to take the colt. If they would have used their fancy explanations they may have been chased away with sticks, but they said what Jesus had instructed them and they met with success
For all we know the owners had a dream or vision that the Lord would have need of something they owned. We really dont know why they let it go, but we do know that the disciples met no resistance because they followed the instructions of Jesus.
Life would go a lot easier for us if we would do this too. If we would determine the clear teaching of Jesus and just follow it. For instance, Jesus said Love one another as I have loved you. St. Paul comments on this
10 Love does no wrong to anyone, so love satisfies all of Gods requirements.
We would do well to follow the disciples example and stick closely to what Jesus says
The crowds had their traditions and teachings They had their expectations of how events would unfold and when they saw the beginning of their redemption they were overjoyed
We are like this very much when things are going well for us it is easy to sing Hosanna! It is easy to be excited about what God is doing when it is a benefit to us and our situation. We are a fickle people, not unlike this crowd of people. They had an image of Messiah in their minds and hearts and when they saw those messianic expectations being met in Jesus, they heralded him as their King.
Of course this was treason against Rome there would have to be a response by the Roman authorities. This was the motivation behind the Jewish leaders. If this kind of enthusiasm continued, the Romans would crack down there could be crosses lining the road from Jerusalem to Rome with a Jew on each one! They knew well the cruelty of the Caesars when it came to putting down insurrection. This political interference and fear coupled with the fact that Jesus was a different kind of Messiah than the people were expectingbrought about an all-to-predictable end to Jesus life on a Roman Cross
But for a few short moments, we catch a glimpse of how things should have been. Gods people rejoicing at the coming of their Messiah.
That is the response that God would have us embrace today. To
acknowledge Jesus as the true King of life. It is this declaration that makes
a persecuted faith in China today and around the world. To acknowledge a higher authority than the State is a dangerious acknowledgement when the State believes it is the supreme authority in all things.
Let us with every breath and with every heartbeat understand Jesus as the King! The one who has ultimate authority over our lives and our occupations and everything. Being willing to see Jesus for who He is is the first step in giving our lives to the King of the universe.
What is clear from the entire story is that in a few short days the same people will have ceased their shouting Hosanna! and changed to a different chorus of: Crucify Him!
While we see clearly how Jesus should have been treated but the motivation behind this display of praise was not authentic. It was not a celebration of Jesus as King but a celebration of expectations and hopes. Who among us wouldnt get excited when our understanding of things starts to unfold just as we thought it would. The true test of discipleship is staying the course when things unfold differently then we have expected. When instead of seats of glory we learn the greatest of all is the servant of all. When Jesus turns everything on its head and we still embrace him as King that is the test of our love for him.
I believe that every follower of Jesus could tell a story of how God helped them change an opinion or of how God led them in an experience that was unexpected and perhaps difficult to accept.
God often surprises us by having a different opinion on things than we do and that hurts and the more we have invested in our opinions on things. The more costly it is to us when we must change to conform to the image of Christ.
I never planned on being a minister, I wasnt doing my Ph.D. in Dead Sea Scrolls so I could stand in a pulpit and talk about Qumran. I invested 12 years in University because I wanted to teach in Seminary. But God had other plans for me. It hasnt been easy to give up those dreams and aspirations; there are still mornings that I wake up and say "why am I a Pastor?" And almost immediately I hear a voice within Because it is God's plan for you:" Is there any other reason we need? Knowing that the Lord of the universe has a plan for us should be enough reason -- but dreams, hopes and expectations die hard.
In fact, they must be nailed to a cross and put to death. So Jesus says pick up your cross and follow me. The crowd sang his praise when it was happy and scourned Him in its disappointment. Jesus was never really King to them -- their own hopes and dreams were enthroned in their hearts. Jesus was a servant to their expectations and when he violated those expectations they would call for his execution.
The road that Jesus sets before us is not always easy. It will require us to put our expectations of others our hopes and dreams in this life all before him so we can truly claim Him as our King. So when we shout Hosanna! it will mean something. When Jesus receives that Heros welcome in our lives, in our homes, in our churches, it must mean something
Then we will begin to understand just how rich is Gods plan is for those believe in Jesus The messiah and the King
©2000 A. Brent Hudson