I know it’s cliche, and it might out me as a former youth pastor, but I really enjoy the movie ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail.’ It’s just the right blend of stupid funny, religion and history that speaks to a former history major turned theology major like me. One of the best scenes in the entire movie starts with a guy banging a wooden spoon into a pot asking people to bring our their dead relatives who have been killed by the plague. He gets into a conversation with a man trying to get rid of his old relative who “isn’t quite dead yet.” It’s a dark and rather morbid scene, that they tried to mask over with some humor. Eventually, the man with the cart hits the elder man over the head with a spoon, and lets the young man toss the elder onto the cart – when suddenly, King Arthur and his entourage pass by. The dialogue goes like this;
“Who’s that then?”
“I don’t know, he must be a king…”
“How do you know?”
“He hasn’t got POO all over him.”
The real line is a little bit more egregious than that. If you’re wondering, you can watch the clip. If you’re offended, you should know that the Apostle Paul uses a similar word to describe what he considers EVERYTHING else, in comparison to knowing Christ. But I digress. I bring up the scene because in a few ways, I think it mirrors the scene that took place the on Palm Sunday, known as the Triumphal Entry. Let me explain.
Back then, in that time, the world is a bit down and dark. The Romans have taken control of a lot of territory. Numerous cultures and traditions have succumb to their military power and might. People are frightened and on edge. Because of Passover, Jerusalem is about to be filled with people who wish their world was different, people who long for what once was and what could someday be. Israel is once again searching for a king.
When suddenly, almost unexpectedly, one arrives. They didn’t even really have time to prepare, so they do the best with what they have, and they cut branches off the surrounding palm trees to wave in celebration. They take off their cloaks and lay them on the ground, and their king rides in – not on a majestic or regal horse, but a lowly donkey. The parade and pageantry is barely a blip on the radar, but those who know what to look for realize that this is the fulfillment of something special. This moment has been predicted and planned since the beginning of time. God wanted them to know, so He told them what to look for. Words long ago spoken, and for some, long since forgotten – but revealing none the less. This Jesus is their King.
Zechariah 9:9 (ESV) – Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Perhaps this all seems a bit familiar. Today, for many, the world seems a bit down and dark. Politicians and ‘progress’ have taken control of many areas of our every day lives. Culture seems broken and tradition no longer relevant. Military powers wage war and flex their might. People again are frightened and on edge. We wish the world was different – some for what once was, and some for what could be. We are looking for, longing for, waiting for, our King. The question is, will we recognize Him when He comes?
I think the answer is yes.
I imagine back then bystanders stood watch and wondered as they watched His triumphal entry. What’s going on? Why all the hubbub? What’s the big deal? Maybe today people outside the walls of church are wondering still. Then they could tell, this man was different – I hope the same is true today. Jesus is different. And for those searching two thousand years ago or today I believe the conversation would go much the same…
“Who’s that then? ”
“I don’t know, He must be a King.”
“How do you know?”
“He hasn’t got SIN all over Him.”