Rolling out the red carpet for Jesus
In society today we talk about ‘rolling out the red carpet’ when there is a special event, that famous or very important people are going to attend. Did you know that this term actually goes back several centuries in India, where they adorned the road with carpets and rugs, so the royal entourage wouldn’t have to touch the ground? Preparing the path like this for a VIP was also practised many years before that as well, in Jesus time.
Palm Sunday is the day that we remember how Jesus entered Jerusalem and how the people celebrated what they believed would be his triumphant arrival. They knew that Jesus arrival was very important, and they demonstrated this by placing their cloaks on the ground as well as palm branches. They were also shouting ‘Praise to David’s son, God bless Him who come in the name of the Lord’, ‘Praise be to God’…
It all sounds very magnificent doesn’t it and you would be forgiven for imagining that the scene would be similar to what we might expect today, with limousines pulling up and important people, dressed in all their finery getting out onto the red carpet, to their adoring fans and crowds. So surely Jesus should be riding into Jerusalem on a white thoroughbred stallion, dressed in the finest clothes and jewellery, ready to lead the people as their majestic King against their great oppressors, to overthrow the Romans.
But this wasn’t the case at all. Jesus came riding into Jerusalem, sat on a colt, with just a cloak to sit on. He came as a lowly, humble servant who wanted to proclaim peace. In those days, when a King rode a horse it symbolised war, if they rode a donkey it symbolised peace. The people completely missed this symbolism though as they were expecting a different kind of king. They wanted to make Jesus into the king they thought they needed, and isn’t that what we can do as well? We try to make Jesus fit into what we want, so we can live our lives the way we want to, instead of us fitting into what he calls us to do and how he wants us to live.
Jesus came as a humble servant of his Father, ready to die for all our sins so we might come into a life changing relationship with God. Jesus also had free will. He could have refused to do what his Heavenly Father was asking of him, he didn’t have to die for us, he didn’t have to take our place, he chose to do that because he loves us so much. So often, it’s only when we need something that we bring Jesus out of our pockets and expect him to help us and fix things, and if we don’t get the answer we want, we put him back until we need him again.
That’s hardly giving Jesus the red-carpet treatment that he deserves.
And have we ever considered how that makes Jesus feel? When we treat him like that, we are putting him back on the cross all over again. Jesus is the Saviour of the world who wants more than anything for us to have a relationship with him. Jesus rode into Jerusalem with the full knowledge of the horror that awaited him, knowing he was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. How amazing is that?
Isaiah 50 vs 4-7 is entitled ‘The obedience of the Lord’s servant’. This text is referencing Jesus as the Messiah and describes his character. It describes how Jesus was perfectly suited for the work he had been called to and that God had given him the words to say. Jesus grew in obedience by learning about God, praying and spending time with him and ultimately paid the greatest price by obeying his Father, to die on the cross for you and me. People insulted him, spat on him and cursed him but he didn’t rebel, out of his great love for us, he chose to die in our place, and fulfilled every prophecy.
So often we can feel alone, isolated, unloved… but no matter what we go through, no matter what we do, nothing can separate us from this amazing, unconditional love of Jesus that took him to the cross to die. He gave himself for our freedom, and the gift of salvation is free, it’s ours to accept and to keep, not just for today but forever.
So, I want to encourage you to turn to him and allow him to reign in your life, putting Jesus firmly on the red carpet of your life, so that in these uncertain and worrying times, you can find his peace, that passes all human understanding. As we all walk through this time together, let’s allow him to lead us in his ways.