If you had to choose from the following, which would you go for?
All three photos were taken on a trip last week to the Isle of Wight in the UK – I was with my dad and one of my sisters.
One question of course is which one of the three did we go on? (a clue is given at the end! Meanwhile, guess!!)
You would possibly have been surprised though if I had included a donkey in the pictures. Yet that is the means of transport that Jesus Christ chose when he rode into Jerusalem a few days before his death (and resurrection).
The city would have been heaving with pilgrims. There would have been celebration, anticipation and remembrance all rolled into one. But also perhaps for many, a bitter reminder that they were occupied by the Romans. As for the occupiers themselves, there was possibly heightened tension wondering if there would be any trouble.
Into this Jesus rides, coming from the Mount of Olives. Both in connection with ancient prophecies yet in other ways too, his riding in on a donkey proclaimed that he was King . Not a King that some were expecting, who would overthrow the Romans.
Though that being said, the Roman Empire is long gone but Christ is still changing lives in 2017 with His kingdom life!
Prophecy quoted by Matthew for instance, declares, “see your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey”. (Matthew 21:5)
What kind of King? As I wrote He did not topple the Romans. Yet the Bible holds the promise that one day He will return and that “so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11)
The wars, famines, disasters, strife that we see will be brought to an end. There is real future hope in Christ. Hope amid the reality that at times we all have to walk through tough circumstances.
Belief in such a King is not escapism from the life we live now. Christ as King, Christ as Lord calls us to follow Him and live out His kingdom values where we are. This honours Him and can be a great benefit to others. The Gospel can also raise objections from others of course.
Will we seek to live ‘kingdom lives’ with His help? Among other things, to do this in the way we treat others. Let’s make that real – think colleagues, fellow students, neighbours, family members. How do we respond to injustice and division between people? Do our lives point people to Christ and His life changing grace?
Christ is not some constitutional figurehead. He is not a ‘king of convenience’ for us to let out of the cupboard at Christmas, Easter and other events that suit us. How do you and I respond to the thought of Christ as King? What does it mean for our lives? In what ways is it a challenge but also an encouragement? (The Bible again and again reiterates that ultimately all things are in his hands and we can trust him).
At the end of Matthew’s account of the ‘Palm Sunday’ entry, people ask of Jesus, “who is this?” (21:10)
That is a vital question. How we respond will shape everything else in how we see Christian faith and our lives. Who is Jesus? Who is the one who chose that day to ride in on a donkey?
This Easter season, how do we answer the question, “Who is this?”
(As to the transport, let’s just say I got some smoke in my eyes when I looked out the window. Did you guess correctly?)