What does it mean to have a king?

Today is Palm Sunday, the day on which the Church recalls the Triumphant Entrance of Christ into Jerusalem as King. That day, just over two thousand years ago was a great day in the life of God’s people, but it was a day that has been greatly misunderstood. That day, great crowds welcomed the entrance of their king with cheers and proclamation, “Hosanna, Blessed is He who comes in the name of Lord.” Even children participated by laying palm branches along the ground as a sign of honor.

In the Matins Gospel reading for Palm Sunday we hear the words of the Prophet Zechariah, “"Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey." (Zechariah 9.9) This was quite different from how a “normal” king would enter a city. A victorious king would enter on a great horse to declare his strength and prominence. Our King enters on a humble donkey declaring His strength not through secular methods, but through humility and peace.

The portrayal of a king to protect his people, while it includes strength, also requires trust from his people. Living in 2018 America, we do not fully appreciate nor understand the role of king. We tend to understand kings as dictators rather than protectors. We tend to view kings as ruthless rather than humble.

If we are going to better appreciate Palm Sunday, then we must properly understand Christ’s role as King, because His Kingdom is not of this world. Christ does come with strength, but it is not strength as the world desires. Christ’s strength is humble obedience to the Father. He does come to protect, but not with earthly weapons. Christ’s weapon is peace.

As we prepare to walk the final steps of our King, this proper understanding of Palm Sunday will help us to recall that our battle is not with fellow human beings, but with the devil and his demons. Our victory will not be on this earth, but in heaven. His protection will require our trust that He has our best interest in mind. He desires our eternal salvation. Let’s follow our King!