The King, The City, The Mission
by Dave Hackbarth
I’m not gonna cry. I’m not gonna cry.
I repeated this phrase in my head with the hope that somehow it would become true. But the lump in my throat and the tears that welled up in my eyes told a different tale.
Tension grew and the ambient music swelled like the rising of the tide. The cascading rush of emotions collided with the visual narrative displayed before me. I was overwhelmed. Not wanting to be seen as a wimp, I uncomfortably adjusted my posture in an external effort to deflect my internal struggle.
I was utterly enthralled by one of the final scenes in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy - the coronation ceremony for Aragorn in Return of the King. Watching this earthy character step into his long-denied birthright as king had completely enraptured me and resonated with something deep within my soul.
I want to depart from this emotionally charged scene and journey into another, similarly reverent, narrative. This is the story of Jesus returning to Jerusalem; a time that we commonly celebrate as Palm Sunday.
As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it.' "
Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?"
They replied, "The Lord needs it."
They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
Luke 19:29-38, NIV (emphasis added)
While many consider this portion of the Scriptures as the fulfillment of prophesy (which it is - see Zechariah 9: 9), this sticks out to me for another reason. Jesus calls himself “Lord.”
Doesn’t that unnerve you a bit? Jesus is Lord. That sounds like a serious title and, to be honest, that makes me...uncomfortable.
Alan Hirsch put it so eloquently at the VERGE Conference in Austin, TX, when he said, “Here is an entire worldview in one sentence -- in fact, a worldview in three words -- which is quite remarkable and that’s why it’s kind of theologically dense enough to hold the movement together. That’s the heart of it, the centerpiece - Jesus is Lord.”
Maybe if we defined the word “lord” it would help contextualize the weight of this title and why it is a pivotal declaration of Jesus’ identity. The relevance of its meaning cannot be overlooked when the dictionary defines lord as “a person who has authority, control, or power over others; a master, chief, or ruler.”
When was the last time we thought about Jesus like this? Or maybe, when was the last time we declared Jesus to be our only authority with all control and power in our lives?
See, that’s just it! Lords typically require our complete devotion to them, not partial, and that can be a bit intimidating. That is why we typically dislike the idea of a lord. We do not know if they are going to use their authority to control us by wielding their power without compassion.
Which makes me wonder, how did Jesus use his power as Lord?
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them…” (Matthew 9:36, NIV)
"Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people…’" (Matthew 15:32, NIV)
“Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand…” (Mark 1:41, NIV)
The truth is that whether we acknowledge Jesus as Lord or not, something or someone in our lives will ultimately have that title. We just may not be aware of it. So the question is who or what is lord in our lives? Are we willing to allow Jesus to have that title? Are we willing to give Jesus all authority, control, and power over our lives? After all, He is the compassionate Lord and deserves our complete devotion.
The Scriptures continue…
“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it…” (Luke 19:41, NIV)
Jesus is entering the city of Jerusalem with celebration and praise when He begins to weep at the sight of His city. Massive revelry mixed with soulful and tragic sorrow. Shouts of joy met with tears of mourning. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus is weeping because the city does not recognize that the Messiah, the Savior, is here and that he brings with him the peace of God. The city does not know that the Kingdom of God has come and is now here.
I wonder, when was the last time we wept for our city? Just as Jesus entered His city, we, too, have been sent by Jesus to enter our cities to continue His work of establishing the Kingdom of God on earth.
“But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” (1 Peter 2:9-10, MSG)
This life mission of re-presenting Jesus to our city is a calling for all Christ followers. We are to be co-missioned with Jesus in proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is available by grace to everyone who has faith in Jesus as their Lord. To put it another way, we are to proclaim that this message is for anyone willing to trust in Jesus as the leader of their heart, mind, and soul living a life of moment-by-moment connectedness to God to do whatever He asks of them.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”(Matthew 28:18-20, NIV)