John 12:1-19 (NKJV)
Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. 2 There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. 3 Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. 4 But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, 5 “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it. 7 But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. 8 For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”
9 Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.
12 The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out:
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
The King of Israel!”
14 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written:
15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
Behold, your King is coming,
Sitting on a donkey’s colt.”
16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.
17 Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. 18 For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign. 19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!”
This lesson today might give you a bit of literary whiplash. All of a sudden, now we are back to Sunday of Holy Week, Palm Sunday, and Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. However, this gives us a chance to see the close connection: Jesus is hailed as King on Palm Sunday, and then the notice above Jesus’ head on Good Friday is this: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”
Of course, that’s the real irony here, isn’t it! That’s the real kicker of Holy Week, and we ride along like we’re in on an inside joke. Everyone keeps calling Jesus the King, and we know that He really is! He comes in on Palm Sunday to proclamations of being king, He parades around the town all week as though He IS king, then He is arrested, and the Pharisees charge Him with blasphemy because He says He is the Son of God—and we snicker to ourselves again because we know that He really IS the Son of God as well!
And then He’s handed over to the Romans and the soldiers mock Him as king, and again we grimace at what is being done to our Lord, but we also know how the story ends so we also have something of a snicker because we know the secret that they obviously don’t know—namely that Jesus really IS king.
Then, they crucify Him… and what is the sign above His head? It says, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”
Oh, the irony. We know the secret. Sure, we grimace at what Jesus has to go through, and we know the price He is paying for our sin, and we are in no way cavalier about that. Our entire salvation is based on this fact that Jesus died in our place there on that cross. But oh, the irony! “Behold, your king is coming.” Yes, we receive Him in faith—our King, indeed.
Let us pray: O almighty God, mercifully look on Your people, and by Your great goodness govern us in body and preserve us in soul; through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.