By Stuart Powell
How does Jesus enter our lives? In the same way he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday—as a servant.
Jesus’ disciple described it this way,“Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden’”(Matthew 21:5, English Standard Version).
Jesus’ arrival at Jerusalem, before his suffering, opened with a scene foreshadowed in Zechariah 9:9. As he rode the donkey colt down the steep slope of the Mount of Olives, passing by the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus redefined the relationship between human believers and their eternal master, God. Jesus did not ride a horse, sitting higher than those who subjugated themselves. Jesus began the last week of his earthly ministry as a servant to humanity.
Servants often cannot defend themselves. Likewise, as his crucifixion neared, Jesus chose not to defend himself. In accepting the punishment of those who are slaves to sin, he became the servant of those slaves. But with his crucifixion, he defeated Satan, the master of those slaves.
“Throughout his ministry, in fact, Jesus trained his attention solely on the needs of humanity. To demonstrate this to the people of Israel, and to history, he chose a beast of burden to carry him to the center of their worship. Let there be no doubt—Jesus came to love, to heal, and to die. In all his actions, he served.
Jesus touches our lives in our deepest needs where we are most vulnerable. He called his followers to do the same. His back accepted a servant’s lashes to liberate us. He suffered a servant’s execution to purchase our salvation. At this time of Communion, the bread is a reminder of our Lord’s brutalized flesh. The cup is the symbol of his sacrificed blood. Jesus died as the servant of slaves so that he could rule as King of kings.
Stuart Powell lives outside of Terre Haute, Indiana, where he serves with the North Side Christian Church.