The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak;
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.
Edward Shillito, “Jesus of the Scars.”
There are 3 categories/types/offices of leadership that regularly show up in the Bible: Prophet, Priest, and King. This triad describes not only the 3 “offices” or roles in the Old Testament which were fulfilled in Jesus, but also gives three decent functional personality types. Prophet’s speak truth (often calling for change). Priests care (and point us to God). Kings oversee, organize, and lead (as a representative for God).
I admire bold-speaking prophets even when I don’t agree with them. I am drawn to compassionate priests even when I’m not feeling a need to be cared for. But I have a lot of ambivalence towards kingly folks. I think most people do. Prophets pass through town. Priests are there when my head is bowed or my shoulders sag. But Kings . . . they are around too darn much. Kings are great when you need a leader. But who needs a leader when he’s not in crisis? (i.e. I want a Priest, not a King, most of the time). Just think about the Presidential cycles throughout history. We put them on a pedestal when we want things to be different. But it doesn’t take long for us to want to push them off. Almost all Presidents finish their terms with low approval ratings.
We see this ambivalence with Jesus the King, especially in the story of Palm Sunday which we celebrate and relive this Sunday. Jesus is welcomed into Jerusalem as the King and exits as a criminal. He is greeted with accolades but leaves in a hail of hatred. As we enter into this story, we find ourselves in the crowds. We have great ambivalence towards God, don’t we? We are servants and rebels. Friend and enemies. Often in the same day.
Take some time to read and reflect on John 11:47-53, 12:12-24, 31-33 and consider “The Gospel According to Caiaphas.” There are some additional Palm Sunday meditations below. If you have Redeemer Kids aged children, remember to arrive early so the children can practice the Palms and liturgy with Jamie before the service begins.
Yours in Christ,
Jesus was the only One that ever raised the dead and He shouldn’t have done it. He’s thrown everything off balance. If He did what he said, then it’s nothing for you to do but throw away everything and follow Him, and if He didn’t, then it’s nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can. Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find
And if we obey God, we must disobey ourselves; and it is in this disobeying ourselves, wherein the hardness of obeying God consists. Father Mapple, in Moby Dick.
There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.”
C.S. Lewis on Pride, Mere Christianity