Palm Sunday is the day we celebrate Jesus coming in all his glory and power. At the same time, Jesus taught us that he came to serve us as a servant. How can these two things be reconciled?
Palm Sunday is the day we celebrate Jesus coming in all his glory and power
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, greeted by the people of Israel with palm branches and shouts of joy. It was an amazing sight!
But what did it mean? Why did they do this?
The story goes like this: Jesus came to serve us, conquer us for himself, save us from our sins and bring peace to the world (Matthew 21:1-11). He gave his life for us so that we could have new life through him (John 10:10).
The first part of Jesus’ ministry was as a servant
The first part of Jesus’ ministry was as a servant. He came to serve us, not be served.
The word “servant” can be used in two ways: either as a noun or an adjective. Jesus was a servant in both senses – he was both the Servant who came to serve and also one who chose to serve others (Matthew 20:28).
The second part of Jesus’ ministry was as a conqueror
Jesus is also the conquering king. Jesus conquered death and sin through his incarnation, death and resurrection. He gave us salvation through his sacrifice on the cross. The Holy Spirit is another aspect of Jesus’ conquering power – he gives us the gift of salvation (Romans 8:9-11), as well as helps us live according to God’s will (Romans 8:14-17).
Two irreconcilable opposites?
On the one hand, Jesus came to serve us; on the other hand, he also came to conquer us for himself. In terms of his coming death for us (Galatians 2:20), this means that we can only be saved by accepting his sacrifice or judgment upon our sinfulness – and this means dying with him through faith in him as our Lord and Saviour (Romans 6:23).
The paradox of Jesus is that these two dimensions belong together
Jesus is a king with no subjects; he is also a servant king. He came to conquer and serve us.
Jesus’ kingship is not based on conquest but on self-sacrifice (Philippians 2:5-8). The cross was his throne, where he was exalted above all things by becoming sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). He did this so that we might be raised up together with him in glory (Romans 6:4).
The paradox of Jesus reveals the reality of God’s grace for sinners like you and me
Jesus is a servant king, but not just any servant. He is the Servant of all mankind (Is 52:13). He came to serve us by dying on our behalf (Mark 10:45). This act of love was an act of conquest as well; Jesus conquered death by rising from the grave three days later (1 Cor 15:4-8). These two things aren’t opposites! They’re actually complementary aspects of who he is!
So what does this mean for us? It means that we can be confident in Jesus’ ability to save us from our sins, but we also have to be willing to follow him as he leads us through life. As Christians, we need both dimensions of his ministry working together in our lives if we want God’s grace to flow freely through us!
This week, during Holy Week, we meditate on some of the events of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday as we journey with Christ to the cross. Will we be changed by this encounter?
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