Humility: A Reflection on Palm Sunday
Chuck Lawless | March 31, 2023
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them,
“Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’”
And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it.
And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
– Mark 11:1-10 ESV
As Jesus rode a donkey into the city of Jerusalem on that day, it’s likely the people were thinking in terms of a political messiah-king who would free them from Roman bondage. They were looking for a king who would break their chains and restore the kingdom to Israel. Even his disciples didn’t understand all this (John 12:16), and they still had the same question post-resurrection in Acts 1. That wasn’t Jesus’s plan, though; as Dr. Akin reminds us, “He is not here to purge Israel of foreign domination; no, He is here to purge His people of their sin!”
Jesus was indeed the King, but he would reign on his terms — not according to the nationalistic expectations of the people. How would he do that? By humbly following the Father’s plan to a wooden cross and a borrowed tomb.
Jesus was indeed the King, but he would reign on his terms…. By humbly following the Father’s plan to a wooden cross and a borrowed tomb.
This was Jesus who was:
- royalty born in a Bethlehem stable
- the Master who came to serve
- the King who rode into town on a donkey rather than the warrior-horse that carried victorious leaders
- the sinless Sovereign who came to seek and save the lost
- the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Giver of Life, who came to die.
In all these events Jesus was a king who, as Zechariah 9 prophesied, served in humility and gentleness.
When we see Jesus in his humility, we must give pause to let the Scriptures challenge us in several ways. First, Christian leadership demands humility. The best Christian leaders I know stand for the truth, but they stand on their knees. They’ve been humbled under the grace of God, and they lead from a unique combination of strength and weakness. They lead, but out of dependence and gratitude.
Christian leadership demands humility. The best Christian leaders I know stand for the truth, but they stand on their knees.
Second, we’re not all we might think we are, no matter what others might tell us. Ministry and church leadership have a way, if we’re not careful, of building up our egos. We too often long for stronger recognition, more popularity, greater prestige — and we look for platforms that allow us to ride into the city as the king. We don’t long think about taking on the role of lowly servant.
Third, our proper response is to praise Jesus with all our being. He is, after all, the King — and we are not.
 Much of this material is from Chuck Lawless, “The Coming of the Triumphant King,” sermon preached at SEBTS on March 25, 2021.
 Daniel L. Akin, Exalting Christ in Mark (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2014), 246.