They pressed in to see Him as He entered Jerusalem on a donkey. Some threw off their coats and laid them on the road, so He would ride over them. Others did likewise with palm branches. (Matthew 2:1-11 ; John 12:12-14 ; Zechariah 9:9)
The people were jubilant, shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”. They knew that their King had arrived, now He would make all things right, He would destroy the wicked, end the tyranny of Rome and raise up Israel as the head of nations. They would cast off the Roman yoke with the sword…Now they would be the masters.
Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphant… some days later many of those who cheered “Hosanna” would cry out: “Crucify Him!”. (Matthew 27:16-26 ; Mark 15:13 ; Luke 23:31)
Jesus witnesses of Himself
When Jesus was captured in Gethsemane and king Herod had Him brought before Pilate, the Roman governor, Pilate asked Jesus: “Are you a king ?” Jesus answered: “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 18:36)
Jesus, being truly man and truly God, testified that His Kingdom is not from the world, that His Kingdom would not even be established by the things which are seen. But what does all that mean ? Shouldn’t we establish His Kingdom on earth, as some of us believe ? (Luke 17:20)
The natural state of man
The Bible is filled with stories of people who rule, and people fighting to attain such a position. Pilate fought his way up the Roman ranks, Herod stopped at nothing to remain king and the Priests and scribes enjoyed the admiration of the people, desiring to be called “Rabbi” and expecting the best seats in the house. (Matthew 23:7-12)
We see this behaviour also in our times. Many people want to ascend to a place where they can rule, be it as a ruler of a household, or as a manager or minister and some even as dictator.
Man wants to be looked up at, man desires admiration (which is a form of idol worship) and seeks such things in status, in power and in wealth. We strive to outdo the neighbours, desiring bigger cars, more luxurious houses, more expensive jewellery and the latest in tech. Mankind is enslaved to the same wicked desire which entered in at the fall… We want to be as God ! We want to rule, we want to look down on our neighbours… We want to be kings !
In our hearts we still hear the chant: “Not thy will but my will be done…!”
Natural man seeks natural king
In the book of Samuel we read that the people of Israel desired an earthly king to rule over them.
For hundreds of years since their liberation from Egypt, the tribes of Israel lived as free men in the land of promise, with God as their king and the priests as their ministers.
The people were soon oppressed by their neighbours, a situation God created because Israel quickly fell to all kinds of evil, seeking their own will, rather than God’s Commandments. God being merciful, gave judges to liberate Israel from its oppressors, time and time again, when His people cried out to Him. (Judges 2:11-23)
Samuel was the last judge in the era of judges, sent by God. In his days the people desired an earthly king. The LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. (1 Samuel 8:7)
God then gave them Saul, And when he was proclaimed king of Israel, “he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen? There is none like him among all the people.” And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!” (1 Samuel 10:23-24)
The people saw with natural eyes, a man taller and stronger than any, the people saw a natural king, the king they wanted, the fulfilment of their hearts desire.
God was about to show that His ways are very different from our ways.
Natural rulers always disappoint
Samuel anointed Saul: king of Israel and Saul received of Gods Spirit. For a time Saul obeyed God but it didn’t last. Being a ruler made Saul haughty and fearful of losing his royal position. Saul continued to follow his own heart, rather than the still small voice of the Spirit of God.
Saul disobeyed God in the matter of the Amalekite king Agag. Saul trusted not on the Lord but disobeyed the Spirit. Saul even raised up a monument to himself at Carmel (1 Samuel 15:12) Saul was preoccupied with his own glory, rather than God’s Glory.
Because of all this, the Spirit departed from him and the Lord sent an evil spirit to torment him. Saul became consumed with fear and turned into a jealous, schizophrenic despot. (1 Samuel 16:14 ; 1Samuel 18:6-12)
A king after Gods heart
After the rejection of Saul, God told Samuel to go to Bethlehem, to the house of a man called Jesse, to anoint one of his sons as king over Israel.
When Jesse brought his sons before him, Samuel saw Jesse’s eldest son Eliab and thought “surely the Lord’s anointed is before him” But the Lord said to Samuel: “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (1Samuel 16:1-13)
All the sons of Jessy were dismissed by God, except for the youngest, who had to be fetched, for he was tending the sheep. His youngest son was called David. Samuel anointed this young boy as king of Israel and the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.
God chose the smallest, least respected member of a small family in a backwater town, to be king of Israel and father to a lineage that would one day rule the world.
The true eternal King
Centuries later, in that same little backwater town of Bethlehem, a child was born, who would be the eternal King. He was not counted worthy to even be born in a house, but rather came to us in lowliness, born in a stable. (Luke 2:1-20)
Of Him it is written that “He was despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and pain and acquainted with grief; And like One from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or esteem Him.”(Isaiah 53:3)
The wise men who came to seek this new-born King first went to the palace. Where else would they go to find the promised king to come ? But they only found evil king Herod there… The promised King however was found by them, in the stable. (Matthew 2:1-12)
His Kingdom come
So we see that God does not see or act as we would naturally do.
We want to be wise, we want to be strong, we want to stand tall… But God chooses the foolish to confound the wise, He lifts up to weak and despised, to bring the strong to their knees. (1Corinthians 1:27)
Like Saul, we desire to rule and to be looked up at. Like the wise men, we seek royalty and men of worth in kings palaces. Like the Priests, we seek to pray and give and serve in a way that gains admiration from our peers… All of this is the worst form of idol worship, it is the worship of self, it is an attempt to set up our own kingdom, in which we are like god. (Genesis 3:5)
Jesus Christ taught us that His Kingdom is not from this world. Christ showed us a very different path.
For Christ, being God fully and man fully, is the only one who walked among us and deserves our total devotion and our complete worship. Nevertheless, although He has such a Royal status as King of Kings and knowing that He was about to return to His Throne, from where He came, on the night before His crucifixion, He took water and washed the feet of His disciples, showing and explaining to them how His Kingdom is ruled. (John 13:1-7)
His Kingdom is governed, not in dominion, not top-down, not by power or might, but in serving each other and esteeming each other higher than oneself. His Kingdom is established in love, and it is an eternal Kingdom. (Philippians 2:3 ; 1 Corinthians 13:13)
If you were called by Christ, if you follow Him truly, then you are a subject of His Kingdom, you are a citizen of that heavenly city. Let us then walk in the way of our Lord and King. Let us esteem each man his brother higher than himself. Let us work these works of Light, until our King returns. (Philippians 3:20-21 ; Matthew 24:46 ; Luke 12:43)
Amen, may He come quickly.