A BID FOR THE THRONE
“Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of Him but also to see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. So, the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in Him.” John 12:9-11 NIV.
How far will people go to secure their own position and protect their beliefs? These religious leaders were stooping to the very lowest, scheming to get rid of Lazarus as well; to silence both him and Jesus because they were a threat to their power and influence over the people and, of course, to their income from them.
Once again, John pointed out that this latest and greatest sign brought another wave of people to faith in Jesus. For the Jewish leaders, this was bad news. Things were getting out of hand as far as they were concerned and they had to take action to put a stop to it before they were completely swamped by Jesus and His followers….and it could only get worse.
“The next day, the crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet Him shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!’
“Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written, “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” John 12:12-15 NIV
Although this was a spontaneous outbreak of praise from the people, no doubt set off by one exuberant person and taken up by the crowd, it had been prophesied by the post-exilic prophet, Zechariah, centuries before. Surely the religious leaders would have recognised what they were shouting as a fulfilment of prophecy! It should have stopped them in their tracks and alerted them to the amazing truth that they were right in the middle of the fulfilment of their own Scriptures.
“Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9 NIV.
For these stubborn unbelievers it was a danger sign, not a reason to celebrate the arrival of their rightful and righteous ruler. Had they only listened to Jesus instead of opposing Him at every turn, they would have realized that Jesus was no threat to Rome. The kingdom of which He spoke was unseen and within, transforming people from selfish and greedy getters to compassionate and generous givers because of a new Master in their lives.
They would still be under Roman rule until the Father saw fit to release them from their oppressors, but that would be nothing compared with their release from the burden of religion, sin and the slave-drivers within; the guilt, shame and fear which tormented them and from which Jesus came to set them free. The throne of which their Scriptures taught was not an earthly throne but the control centre of their lives surrendered to Jesus so that He could direct them into a life of peace and oneness with the Father.
Where was Jesus heading when He came riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey accompanied by the crowds in a party spirit? To Pilate’s residence to make a bid to oust Rome…with a mighty army of twelve men and a crowd of revelling children? To the temple where He would challenge the authority of the religious leaders and take over the temple?
Yes, it was His announcement that He had come as a king but…His reign would be a reign of peace – “I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.” Zechariah 9:10 NIV.
However, that peace would come at a price, His own blood shed for the nations so that they would experience the peace that is much more than the cessation of war — peace with God and the peace of God which transcends understanding.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.