SUNDAY, APRIL 1, 2012
PALM SUNDAY: LESSON ON CHRIST’S HUMILITY
Tell the people of Jerusalem, look, your king is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey, riding on a donkey’s colt’ (Matt. 21v5)
THE Jews had expected a political messiah. And so, on this historic Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem, with a great crowd hailing Him, shouting: ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest heaven’. The predominant feeling that day was that the end of Roman rule had finally come.
But wait a minute. The Jews did not consider the symbolism of His entry. He chose a colt, or a donkey. Matthew mentions a donkey and a colt, while the other gospels mention only the colt. This corresponds with the prophecy in Zechariah 9v9: ‘Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet He is humble, riding on a donkey– riding on a donkey’s colt’.
This attitude shows how Jesus’ actions fulfilled the prophet’s words, thus giving another indication that He was indeed the messiah. When Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt, He affirmed His messianic royalty as well as His humility. On the practical side, what better way was there to take an unbroken colt for its first ride down a crowded road than have its mother with it?
The colt was an embodiment of humility. And that Jesus sat on it teaches us a great lesson about this virtue. Humility or humbleness is a quality of being courteously respectful of others. It is the opposite of aggressiveness, arrogance, boastfulness and vanity. Rather than ‘me first’, humility allows us to say, ‘no, you first, my friend.’ Humility is the quality that lets us go more than halfway to meet the needs and demands of others.
If Jesus had ridden on a horse, which naturally was meant for war, it could have been understandable. People, at the time, thought more of political freedom rather than religious implications and virtues of humility. However, He chose the lowly, gentle and meek colt.
The scripture speaks of humility: ‘But He giveth more grace. Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble’ (James 4v6); ‘Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble’ (I Pet. 5v5); ‘Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt. 18v4).
Unfortunately today, many people including leaders of God’s children in various congregations are far from being humble. Yes, a lot of things can puff a person up— education, beauty, money, political power, connection to the powers that be, exotic cars, mansions etc.
As a child of God, our master never walked this path. Each time I think about Apostle Paul, I am really challenged. He could say: ‘forbid it Lord that I should boast, save in the cross of Christ my God; all the vain things that charm me most I sacrifice them to His blood’ (Gal. 6v14). Here was a man whose eyes were fixed permanently on Christ. And he admonished those who came after him: ‘Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ’ (I Cor. 11v1).
Humility costs nothing but wins a lot. Think of where you are— the nature of your work, your relationships, your height and position in the Lord and in the wider society. Are you humble enough? Remember that arrogance, aggressiveness, boastfulness and vanity should be laid down at the feet of the cross. If we do this honestly, we would find a place where Christ already is seated.Ven. Ernest Onuoha Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.