Today we remember and celebrate Palm Sunday, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Today we will sing about and hear about when Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, and the people cut down palm branches and shouted “Hosanna” to the King of Israel.
There are at least two ways to get this acclamation wrong. Some wanted a carnal King in the first century, and there are some attracted to Christianity today who are still looking for a carnal King. A carnal King is a merely political savior, who basically plays by earthly rules; He’s just smarter, cooler, more powerful, and He really ‘owns the libs.’ But if that’s what Jesus was coming to do, what follows doesn’t make sense. Why does He then spend the rest of the week in the temple preaching only to be betrayed and condemned and crucified, with Him saying the whole time: this is all part of the plan.
The other way to get this wrong is to go to the opposite extreme and try to explain that Jesus was only symbolizing being a king, and what He offers is a spiritual kingdom in another dimension. If you ask Him to come into your heart, He will give you a little piece of that spiritual kingdom in your heart, while you wait for this world to crumble and burn. But it that’s what Jesus came to do, what follows doesn’t make sense either. Jesus didn’t need to go into Jerusalem, preach repentance, be betrayed, suffer and die and rise again for a kingdom in another dimension.
No, the truth is that Jesus came as the King of Israel. He is the descendant of David, He is the seed of the Woman, and He is the Messiah come to save Israel. But He is not a carnal King, a merely political Savior. He came to save us from our sins because sin is the greatest oppressor, the greatest tyrant of all. If you want to be saved from political tyranny and oppression, you must first have Christ wash your feet, which is to say, He must wash you from your sins.
Make no mistake: Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is President of all the presidents, Prime Minister of all the Prime Ministers, Supreme Judge of all the courts. The government is upon His shoulder, and all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to Him. Every knee must bow to Him; every tongue must confess Him Lord. But this is because He went to the cross for sinners. This is political, but it is far more than political.