The King's Mission

Throughout this series, "A Time to Embrace," we’ve been talking about embracing people.  
Palm Sunday compels us to ask: “Will we embrace JESUS?”  

The day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, he was making something very clear to his people: King Jesus is on a mission and calling us to embrace it.

1) King Jesus is a SPECIFIC king.
Riding on a donkey would have been a familiar call back that suggested he would fulfill a specific promise, which is why Matthew alluded to Zechariah's prophecy. Even though that image probably doesn't resonate with Americans, consider the impact of someone reenacting the signing of the Declaration of Independence as they signed a new bill into law.  The image alone would send a message: it's time for ideals declared in the past to become true in the present.

2) King Jesus is on a specific mission: SHALOM.
- The king “will bring peace to the nations.”
- "Peace" here is the Hebrew shalom.  Shalom is much more than merely conflict avoidance.  Even when Zechariah gave those original words, the Jews had already been released from captivity in Babylon.  They were "at peace."  But they did not know shalom: wholeness, health, soundness, health. safety.
- It would have been very hard for Zechariah’s audience to embrace the idea of God giving shalom "to the nations," as they had just suffered for three generations at the hands of those nations!  It would have also been offensive to Jesus’ audience: Rome was part of "the nations!"  The same word (goyim) is translated "Gentiles."  And who are they?  They are us (unless we are born or converted Jews.)  The only reason a gentile can consider themselves “insiders” with God is because it is King Jesus’ mission to make it so.  

3) King Jesus will accomplish his mission through his PEOPLE.  
- After Zechariah prophecied that God would destroy all warfare, he uses warfare imagery to ironically say that his people would be his instruments (“Judah is my bow, Israel is my arrow...”) in his campaign of peace.  While human powers wage violent wars against nations, the King of kings wages a campaign of peace for the benefit of the nations.
- This should be sounding familiar to anyone who knows the Gospel.  Jesus tells his people to go to all nations, to be his witness to the ends of the earth.  And Paul said that when the king’s mission of peace is fulfilled, there will be no “us and them” (Ga. 3:28).  

God loves you.  And God loves people who look, sound, and believe like you, too.  But Jesus’ mission is to bring shalom to so many more people.  Strategies like “don’t ask don’t tell” (re. sexual orientation) or “good fences make good neighbors” (re. immigration or neighborhood zoning) only help avoid conflict (and they’re not very effective anyway).  But shalom is more.  And God is calling you to participate in it.   And I’ll bet you don’t have to go further than the ends of your neighborhood to find someone who is wondering whether or not God will embrace them.  

The question remaining is: Will you embrace Jesus and your role in his mission of shalom?

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