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The Rejected King

Luke 19:29-42

king rejected

king rejected

To many, Palm Sunday is the day we commemorate and celebrate Jerusalem’s reception of Jesus as the messianic king. Yet on closer inspection of Luke’s take on the events, Palm Sunday actually highlights Jerusalem’s rejection of Jesus as the messianic king.

Often our focus is on the jubilant celebrations of those who were already followers of Jesus and assume that this meant that he was well received by all, yet the Pharisees’ attempt to quell the enthusiastic crowd and Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem’s rejection of him paints a different picture.

Had Jesus arrived on a warhorse armed for battle, instead of a lowly donkey, I’m sure he would have been hailed as king by all. For the Jews, including the disciples, though Jesus repeatedly told them otherwise, assumed that when the Messiah would come, he would defeat the Romans and re-establish the Davidic Kingdom beyond its former glory.  Yet Jesus was not to be the Messiah that everyone was expecting. He was not going to be swayed by popular opinion, but was to stay the course (cf. Luke 9:51), for he came not to destroy the Roman occupation by brute force, but to suffer, die and rise again, to defeat the true oppressor; sin and death.

The challenging question for us Christians living in the 21st Century, in a society which is constantly pushing Christianity to the margins, is this; will we continue to follow Jesus, not only when things are rosy, and likeminded people are singing his praise, but will we follow him when it mean Via Delarosa, the way of suffering – the way of the cross? Christian discipleship has always meant following the one who was not only rejected as king as he rode into Jerusalem, but who carried that cross of rejection to Calvary. Yet we are promised, that if we receive this rejected king, he will receive us, and the peace (shalom) of God which surpasses all understanding, which Jerusalem, the ‘City of Peace’ (for that is what its name means), rejected, will be ours, for all eternity.