Holy Week Devotion #1: Crowns for a King
Patreeya Prasertvit | APRIL 14, 2019 | 3 MIN READ
I woke up from a dead sleep, startled at the sounds in the hallway. The only thing I could make out was the cacophony of a large group assembling for some sort of afterparty that the whole floor could hear. Waves of people arrived, boots clomping loudly on the old stairs, voices shouting and doors slamming for what felt like an hour.
God, I prayed while squeezing my eyes shut, silence them quickly, or so help me I will unleash all sorts of crazy on them.
It’s funny how a sound can be disruptive or comforting depending on the context. A sound becomes a racket if we’re in the wrong mood. A beloved song became unbearable to listen to after my roommate insisted on playing it on repeat for weeks. A voice we might enjoy one moment may be drives us to violence in the middle of the night.
It’s also funny how praise can quickly turn into critique. The people who compliment you one minute are quick to complain about you the next. James writes, “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be” (James 3:10). But considering, “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45), this should not surprise us.
“Blessed is the king that comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 19:38). The words that praised Jesus would be the same that served as his accused crime — being the “King of the Jews” — just five days later (Mark 15:2). But on this day, the curiosity and intrigue Jesus had garnered since his birth would blossom into appropriate acclaim.
On the Sunday Jesus enters Jerusalem as King, the disciples praise God loudly and uncontrollably for the miracles they have seen, for this man seems to be so much more than a man. Praise erupts from their mouths, bursting forth as a release of all their seemingly fulfilled hopes and dreams. Here is the King they have been awaiting. Here is the time when he will put all things right.
And finally, instead of shushing them to silence or secrecy, Jesus allows them to speak in public what they have been contemplating in private. “When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?’ (Matthew 21:10)”
Who is this? It was a question that Jesus had prepared his disciples for. “Who do people say that I am?” he had asked them (Matthew 16). Such a strange question for a man who seemed to never seek public acclaim or approval, who spent his time performing miracles and then warning his newly devoted followers to not to say too much.
“Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets…”
“But who do you say I am?” The point of Jesus’ discourse becomes clear as he focuses his attention on Peter. Will the crowds determine your answer, Peter? Will public opinion sway you? Will popularity or political correctness rule your heart?
“You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”
He was, and he had always been. It was true even when he was a baby, born in a place of dishonor, amid rumor and critique, the stars shone, men came to pay tribute, and the angels declared his majesty. Even when he had little to no reputation, when the authorities scoffed at his claims, he was. The wind and waves still obeyed him, the demons feared his name, and flesh healed at his touch.
The disciples’ voices grew so disruptive that the authorities commanded Jesus to silence them. Their souls grew agitated at the noise. And his response? “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:40).
All of creation had been declaring who he was, who he is, and who he would always be. Even when the very crowds who blessed him would be clamoring to crucify him, he would not change. Even when Peter’s answer would fail and the disciples would scatter, Jesus would remain the same King he had always been. There was no silencing nor stopping it.
On Palm Sunday, we separate ourselves from the voices of the crowd to face the Messiah as he asks each of us: “Who do you say that I am?”
The cross he heads toward forces a choice for every person who claims to follow him. Which will you choose? Man or Messiah? Religion or relationship? Denial or devotion? The crowd or the King?
Patreeya Prasertvit considers herself a "Cajun Asian," having grown up in Bangkok and Baton Rouge. Although raised in a predominantly Buddhist home, Patreeya now disciples and trains women to live out the gospel working with Cru in Berkeley, CA. She is part of Solano Community Church in Albany. You'll find her compulsively browsing bookstores, feeding anyone who visits, and eating her way through the Bay Area. Read more from her at www.patreeya.com.