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hope for churches in stress

Not a Tame Lion

As Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem (on the day we call Palm Sunday), the crowd cheered wildly in the hope that he would overthrow their Roman oppressors and rule like David, a warrior king. They shouted: “Hosanna, save us now, son of David!”

Jesus rode into Jerusalem, not on a war horse like a conquering king, but on a donkey in fulfillment of an ancient prophecy (Zechariah 9:9). By this visual message, Jesus was communicating two things: Yes, I am God’s only chosen King; but I am not the kind of king you want or expect.

Five days later, an enraged mob screamed for Jesus' execution. Since the whole city was stirred when he entered the city, there was surely some overlap in the two crowds. Some who were waving palm branches earlier, now shouted, “Let him be crucified!”

In the book of Revelation, the apostle John, who witnessed, first-hand, the crowds in both scenes, is told to look for a triumphant Lion, but there in the midst of the throne is a Lamb (Revelation 5:5-6).

The cheering multitude wanted a lion as king. The mob at the trial demanded a lamb. Neither crowd could grasp this meld of divergent realities in Jesus.

This terrible inconsistency in not a first century response. Certainly not a Jewish response. This is a human response, all too often our response. We want Jesus to do what we want: to fulfill our desires, our hopes, our dreams.

Jesus is a King like no other. In the memorable phrase of C. S. Lewis, he is not tame. His plans and purposes are different from ours. Sometimes he confounds us, yet we persist in demanding what we want.

Indeed, we can cry out like the cheering crowd, “Jesus, save us now!” We can appeal to Jesus for what we think is right and good and best. Jesus does meet our earthly needs. He does forgive our sins. He does rescue us from temptation. He does deliver us from evil.

We may wrestle with God in agony and unfiltered honesty. But when our expectations are unmet, as they will be at times, we want to get to the place of trusting Jesus, no matter what. As Jesus taught us, we pray: “Your kingdom come, your will be done . . .”

Jesus is God’s only chosen King, both Lion and Lamb. He is not tame; he does not always do what we want or expect, but he is always good—and we can trust him, always.

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