When Spiritual Becomes Political

The procession that led to Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem was marked by drama.

Many times in the Gospels, Jesus and the disciples had gone off on their own, away from the crowd, as quietly and secretively as possible. It would have been possible for Jesus to have entered the city inconspicuously. Instead, He purposefully determined to approach Jerusalem in a fashion that declared Him to be the Messiah-King long promised in Scripture.

The people’s concept of what it meant for Him to be the King of the Jews, however, was so skewed that they misunderstood who Jesus was showing Himself to be. The people had previously tried to make Jesus a king by force, but He had slipped away from them (John 6:14-15). He knew that what they thought a king was going to do was not what He had come to do. Their heads were in the wrong place. The same was true when it was suggested that He was involved in some kind of political revolution. To this He replied, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

In the triumphal entry, the crowd’s chants had been filled with passion, expectation, and confusion. They didn’t want to live under Roman subjugation. They wanted national restoration and political revolution. They needed a political champion, and Jesus was their best hope. They were, it seems, trusting that Jesus would deliver to them something He never came to deliver. When the crowd shouted, “Hosanna!”—which means “Save us!”—they were not thinking about personal, spiritual salvation; they were thinking about the here and now.

Unless we keep the gospel at the center of our thinking, we might also fall foul of similar passionate, hopeful confusion. Even today, many of us continue to create a Jesus who can fulfill our own expectations, a “savior” of our own making who has come to bring us comfort, prosperity, or health, to bless our family and neighborhood and nation. Yet Christ did not enter Jerusalem as a conquering nationalist, riding a chariot; He came as a peace-bringing internationalist, seated humbly on a donkey. He came to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah 9, proclaiming “peace to the nations” under His perfect, universal rule “from sea to sea.” That is the message of the gospel—a message that is good for everyone, everywhere, always. It is not that our dreams and demands are too big for Him, but that they are too small.

Jesus challenges us today, as He challenged people in His day, to worship Him for who He is, not for who we think He should be. Do not tell Him to be about your business; count it a privilege for you to be about His.

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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