Holy Week Devotional: Sunday
Sunday: Our Humble King
Day 1 Adult
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1).
READING: Matthew 21:1–11
No one but Jesus knew His triumphant entry into Jerusalem would lead to His humiliating death. In a matter of days, the crowd’s cries of “hosanna” would turn into a call for His death. Yet Jesus, in concert with the will of His Father, set His face toward Jerusalem and mounted a donkey (Zechariah 9:9; Luke 9:51). Christ’s peculiar mode of transportation reveals three things about His identity:
- Jesus is Yahweh’s promised king: Matthew 21:1–11 is the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9–10. Zechariah penned this prophecy after Israel returned home to Jerusalem to restore the temple and their way of life. Though they had been restored to their land, they did not have a king to protect them from the oppression of kings like Herod and Caesar. By riding in on a donkey, Jesus presented Himself as Yahweh’s promised king whose righteous “rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:10).
- Jesus is humanity’s peaceful king: Zechariah also prophesied that Yahweh’s promised king would “proclaim peace to the nations” (Zechariah 9:10). The scandal of the scene was not that king was riding on a donkey. Kings often rode on donkeys, but only during times of peace. When going to war, a king would ride on warhorses as a symbol of power. By riding on a donkey, Jesus reveals something of what He was about to do. He was going to make it possible for sinful humans to have peace with God.
- Jesus is our humble king: Jesus mounted a donkey. He had every right to ride in on a warhorse and hold Israel and all of humanity accountable for their sins, but instead, in humility He rode in on a donkey to bring peace and salvation to the world. He is our humble King, and His love for the nations endures forever.
On their sophomore album, Christian alternative rock band, My Epic, give a poetic account of the events of Holy Week in their song, “Lower Still.” They recount the great descent of Christ from heaven to death. After putting on flesh, Jesus went lower still and became humanity’s servant. Lower still, He went washing the disciple’s feet only to suffer from their betrayal and abandonment. Yet, that wasn’t enough. He had to go lower still, even into the belly of death, bearing all the consequences of our sins. Lower still. Lower still, our Humble King went to bring about our salvation and redemption.
Reflecting on this same “lower still” kind of humility, Paul exhorted the church at Philippi to adopt Christ’s mindset (Philippians 2:6). He invited them to, like Christ, divest themselves of their power and leverage their privilege in service to others even if it meant their death. Who would willingly adopt such a radically obedient mindset of self-sacrifice? Only a person whose goal is to know Christ and the power of His resurrection would volunteer to “participate in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10–11).
Q: How does Jesus, our humble King, encourage and challenge you?
Q. In what ways is God calling you to divest yourself of your power and leverage your privilege for the sake of others?
Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
DISCIPLINE PRACTICE: Thanksgiving
Take a moment today to give thanks to God for sending Jesus, our Humble King, into the world so that we might live.Use Psalm 136 to guide your prayers of thanksgiving. When you reach the end of the psalm, continue the story of God’s acts of salvation leading up to Jesus’ processional into Jerusalem. Then, continuing the pattern, include specific ways He has demonstrated his redemption in your own life. For example, “After 400 years of silence, He sent His angel Gabriel to Mary, His love endures forever” or “You gave me the grace to not respond in anger to my friend’s hurtful comment, Your faithful love endures forever.” Pray these prayers out loud. It is especially helpful to pray this out loud – to verbalize God’s faithfulness to you and to hear your own voice lifting up praises to God.
ADDITIONAL READING: Psalm 118:1–2,19–29; Zechariah 9:1–10; Philippians 2:5–11