By Collin Ross
From the moment we develop independent will as toddlers, we long for the ability to live the way we want. In the twenty-first century, we have more power and influence over more people than we have ever had in the history of the world. With the touch of a few buttons, you can communicate with hundreds of millions of people through the internet. That kind of power would have been unthinkable a few generations ago.
Christ’s Triumphal Entry was about power. By entering the city as he does, Jesus is making a power play—but not how we might expect. After walking over a hundred miles by foot, he stops about a mile outside the city to finish the journey on a donkey. He is obviously up to something.
In fact, Jesus set the stage for a bit of street theater. Israel’s prophets had long spoken about a future day when God would provide a King for Jerusalem, and this divinely appointed King would save God’s people from their worst enemies. How would we note this promised King’s arrival? Well, he would come on a donkey.
So, Jesus’s message is clear. He has been given the authority to reign as the King of God’s people. Most importantly, Jesus signals that He will save God’s people from their worst enemies. And evidently, the crowd understands. We hear their affirmation as they erupt into song, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9). They respond to Jesus’s proclamation of power.
However, none of us is expecting Jesus to use His authority and power the way that He does. If Jesus, God’s promised King, is the embodiment of God’s power on Earth, then we need to recognize that God’s power looks nothing like we’d imagine. The gusto, bravado, and show of strength that is often the outward expression of worldly power is completely absent in Christ. Though He came to save God’s people by once-and-for-all defeating every form of evil, the way that He goes about accomplishing this is through an act of sacrificial love. By His Triumphal Entry, Jesus proclaims His power, and by His death on the cross, He exercises it.
In doing so, Jesus shows us how He utilized power and influence. It was to lay down His life for the sake of others. When we lay down our pride and reach out in love, even to those who do not show love in return, we are demonstrating the power of our God. This is what it looks like to wield power in a godly way: lowering ourselves to lift others.
We may not realize it, but every day we hold power over the people in our lives by what we say and do. How are we using that power and influence? May the Spirit guide our introspection as we seek to follow in the way of Jesus Christ.