Be sure to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses. The king must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself. He must not take many wives. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. Conversely, the one anointed to be king is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law……. it is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees, and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left.
Verses from Deuteronomy 17.14-20
Israel’s kings did not live up to these standards as we know from Kings 1 and 2 in the Old Testament, but here in Jerusalem the crowds of his disciples on this first Palm Sunday, share their joy and shout their recognition, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven”. We hear an echo of the angels’ songs at Jesus’ nativity here.
In the intervening years, between his birth and this accession occasion, Jesus, who by the age of 12 could debate the scriptures with the rabbis in the temple; who 20 or so years on used scripture to overcome Satan in the wilderness; and then started his ministry in a synagogue interpreting the scriptures; this Jesus had learned to revere the Lord his God. The Law was in his mind and on his heart. He did not think he was better than his fellow Israelites: he would soon be teaching the disciples that the greatest must be the servant of all and demonstrating what that meant by washing their feet.
He did not want power that was built on large amounts of silver and gold; or on political alliances through many marriages; or on an overwhelming cavalry by buying horses from Egypt. His kingship was not of this world, so Jesus chose, instead of a stallion, a young donkey. You can imagine for yourselves what the modern-day equivalents might be! And what would be the impact.
Of course, it is not only the leaders of the nations who can be seduced by power and its trappings, we must acknowledge its seduction in ourselves. We do not want to appear weak and vulnerable, nor should we be because others have put us in that position. We need to be mindful that any position we hold has a strong “servant” element about it nurtured by our reading of the bible so keeping us open to the Lord our God and the example of our Servant King.
A prayer based on Psalm 1
Lord may your word be a delight this day. Amid the noise of the crowds, help me to hear your call and correction, to discern your ways of truth and life and love. Make me like a tree planted by streams of water, deeply rooted, daily renewed. Help me to bear fruit for your kingdom, for the sake of Jesus my servant king. Amen
Licensed Worship Leader.
Reflection based on The Way of the Desert (p 40ff) by Bishop Andrew Watson