The crucifixion turned out to be the coronation.
They were expecting a visiting Head of State from another kingdom. The streets were lined with people. School children were everywhere, holding and waving flags. The roads were completely cleared of all vehicles. Then suddenly there appeared a raggedy-looking man, riding a bicycle. “Get off the road,” they jeered. “Clear off. Stupid idiot, what are you doing there?” Little did they know the man they were abusing was the visiting Head of State.
“Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” (Matthew 21:5).
Jesus was clearly not the person they were expecting. They were accustomed to the pomp and circumstance of other “kings.” They had seen Pastor Patrick Anwuzia of Zoe Ministries Worldwide in his cortege of cars with licence-plates Zoe 1, Zoe 2, Zoe 3. They had seen Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, with his train of Land Cruisers zooming around the streets of Lagos. They had seen Pastor Paul Adefarasin, with his fearsome body-guards and retinue of escort-cars. But they did not know what to make of this “pretender” from Nazareth.
This king does not drive around in a Hummer. He does not have chariots and horses. On the contrary, he is a lowly king who comes on a donkey. He was born in a manger. He works as a carpenter. He is not a university graduate. He has not been to the theological seminary. But there is something telling about this “insignificant” king. This king is a shepherd.
Matthew recalls Micah’s age-old prophecy: “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.” (Matthew 2:6). Jesus is the ruler who will shepherd. But he is a different type of ruler and a different type of shepherd. David was ruler of physical Israel: Jesus is ruler of spiritual Israel. David was ruler of a kingdom of this world: Jesus is ruler of the kingdom of God. David was a shepherd of sheep: Jesus is the shepherd of sons of God.
David himself caught the revelation of Jesus the Messiah when he wrote his most famous psalm. He said: “The LORD is my shepherd.” (Psalm 23:1). That translates today to mean; “The Lord is my pastor.” But if you have the audacity to tell your pastor today that the Lord Jesus is your pastor, I can assure you he will not take kindly to it.
Jesus entered the world in a family so poor Mary had to offer two turtledoves, rather than the required lamb, as the sacrifice for her purification. (Leviticus 12:8; Luke 2:24). He grew up in a small non-descript town of Nazareth far from the seat of political power. He lived in obscurity as a carpenter for thirty years. Finally, he inaugurated his ministry on a riverbank and, for only three years thereafter, criss-crossed the dusty roads of Palestine, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. Jesus says: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Matthew 8:20).
Jesus raised no army and sought no earthly position of authority. He ultimately humbled himself by accepting death at the hands of evil men who, like Herod, saw him as a threat to their position and power. And yet, through it all, Jesus is the true king. Indeed, he is the King of kings. But the outward display of pomp and pageantry is not essential to his stature as king. Instead, he sets up a whole new set of values, proclaiming that it is in these we are to find true fulfilment.
In effect, Jesus compels a choice. We can either see dominion in terms of outside splendour and power, or we can focus on strength of character to distinguish the inner core of greatness. It is important for us to see in Jesus’ humility and self-abnegation the key to true greatness and glory. The believer should seek the inner liberty that defines dominion over the shackles of sin. It is this inner freedom and power that was exhibited by Jesus.
Jesus was in full control of himself. He demonstrated his kingship by showing he has authority over the worst of man’s enemies- himself. Jesus exercised absolute freedom from within. Power without self-control is no power at all. A true king must have the power to humble himself; to submit to God and to give up his rights in obedience to God’s commandments.
Jesus exhibited such total liberty of the spirit that he went about doing good. People looked for all kinds of ways to stop him. The devil kept sending people to try and impede him. When he sent Peter to dissuade him from the cross, Jesus said: “Get thee behind me Satan.” Some argued it is not lawful to be good on the Sabbath. But Jesus insisted it is lawful to do good every day of the week.
In the end they decided to kill him. They thought at least when he is dead and buried; he would no longer be able to do anyone any good. But that was a big mistake. His crucifixion turned out to be his coronation. When they killed him, he rose from the dead, never to die again. Thereby, he demonstrated that even death cannot impede the goodness of God.
King of kings
On his resurrection, Jesus commissioned his disciples to preach the gospel of the kingdom of God all over the world. However, it was understood they would do this in the same pattern he established. They would not go in pomp or luxury. They were not to drive about in Jeeps and Pathfinders or live in the best hotels. Instead, they would go with Jesus’ beatitudes boldly written on their hearts and live among their fellowmen humbly and as servants. Jesus says: “Whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:27-28).
How very different this is from the life that kings and mega-pastors of the world lead. Jesus says: “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master.” (Matthew 10:24-25). Jesus’ example does not require Enoch Adeboye’s “Millionaire’s Club.” Neither does it recommend David Oyedepo’s jet-planes. Nevertheless, pastors like Jesse Duplantis now insist Jesus’ lowly donkey is today’s equivalent of a Lincoln-Continental.
Are Christians kings like Jesus? Or are we kings like Herod and our mega-pastors? Are we kings who exercise dominion over sin? Or are we kings who only rule over men? Are we kings in control of ourselves? Or are we fake kings ruled by our temperament? Are we puppet-kings under the servitude of cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and other demons?
Jesus says: “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.” (Revelation 3:11).