Palm Sunday (Matthew 21:1-11)

The Coronation is coming up, but how does it compare with Palm Sunday when Jesus entered Jerusalem being proclaimed as king?

Talk given at St. Luke’s Ramsgate as an All Age talk, 2nd April 2023

Symbols of the Coronation

In about 1 months time, King Charles III is going to have his Coronation. The event is going to be a great event to watch and if you want to watch it with others we are going to show it on the big screen at St. Luke’s.

During the Coronation there are lots of different parts to the ceremony. Can anyone tell me some of the things that happen when the king is crowned?


Let me just share four things that happen and some of the items attached.

  1. The Gold State Coach

Firstly, the king travels to Westminster Abbey in the Gold State Coach. This is not any ordinary vehicle. It is pulled by 8 horses and is covered in gold!

It was built in 1762 for George III. In today’s money it would have cost £3.5million to build!

2. St. Edward’s Crown

The most important moment of the ceremony is when the crown is placed on Charles’s head. The crown is called, St. Edward’s crown.

It was originally made for Charles II in 1661.

3. Fanfare of Trumpets

When the crown is placed on the king’s head, everyone in Westminster Abbey cries, ‘God Save the King!’ and there is a Fanfare of Trumpets!!

This is a kind of declaration that the king has now been crowned.

4. Coronation Chair with the Stone of Scone

Part of the ceremony also involves the king sitting on a special chair or throne called the Coronation Chair. It is a chair originally built in 1300 to house a special stone.

The Stone of Scone used in coronation of Monarchs of Scotland, but stolen by Edward I in the invasion of Scotland in 1296. From then on all the English Kings were crowned on the chair and the stone.

All of these symbols and more suggest how grand and important the new king is. Across Europe when kings used to have a lot more power, than they do today, most kings and queens would have been crowned with similar symbols. The grander and more expensive the symbols the more impressive and powerful the king or queen was seen to be.

Today is Palm Sunday. As Christians we look back to a moment when Jesus came to Jerusalem and was welcomed by many people as a new king. Like the Coronation, there were lots of symbols used, but these were very different symbols to the symbols used for a king today and show us that Jesus was a very different kind of king!

Symbols of Jesus’s Kingship

So, what were the symbols that showed Jesus was a king.

  1. Donkey

The first one was how Jesus came into Jerusalem. It wasn’t in a Gold State carriage, but on a donkey! At first glance this does not suggest that Jesus was a very important king or even a king at all. Surely, a king would come in a chariot or on a warhorse – not a donkey?

Yet, for the Jews coming into Jerusalem on a donkey was Jesus saying, look I am doing what the prophet Zechariah said 500 years before:

“Say to the Daughter of Zion,

`See, your king comes to you,

gentle and riding on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

(Matthew 21:5; Zechariah 9:9)

In doing this Jesus shows us that he is a very different kind of king. He does not come as a great warrior to overthrow people or force his rule on others. Neither does he show off his power or might. Rather it says he is gentle.

Earlier in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus gave this invitation:

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened,

and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

When we accept Jesus as our king and decide to follow him in our lives, we find that it is much less demanding and soul destroying than following any other leader or philosophy or way of life. Jesus is a very different kind of king.

2. Palm Branches

Secondly, Jesus did not wear a crown, but he was welcomed into Jerusalem with palm branches, which the people laid in front of him along with their cloaks to form a kind of carpet to welcome him into Jerusalem.

The people doing this were the crowds coming to Jerusalem from other parts of the country to celebrate the Jewish feast of Passover. They had seen Jesus do amazing miracles and heard him teach them about God and following him in an amazing way. They hoped he would become their new king in Jerusalem and give a better way of life.

Laying palms and coats down in front of Jesus was their way of saying they wanted Jesus to be their king.

But the people living in Jerusalem were worried.

It says at the end of our reading:

“When Jesus entered Jerusalem,

the whole city was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?’”

(Matthew 21:10)

A new king was dangerous. It meant big changes and it was not good news for those in charge, the Chief Priests who ran the temple and the Roman authorities. Especially as the first thing Jesus did when he came into Jerusalem was to clear out all the money changers from the temple courts! Those who liked things the way they were, did not like the idea of a new king.

Many people today, do not want to think about following Jesus or making him their king, because they don’t want to change their lives or be challenged by Jesus like he challenged the temple leaders. Yet, those who were following Jesus had discovered that he was someone amazing. Jesus is a completely different kind of king. He may challenge you, but any change he brings will be for the best.

3. Shouting

So, Jesus was not welcomed into Jerusalem with an official fanfare, but he was welcomed by those following him with loud shouting.

Split into sides one side, shout the first line, the other shout the second:

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

(Matthew 21:9)

They thought the miracles showed that Jesus was the Son of David. God had promised King David, 1000 years before Jesus, that there would be a king who ruled God’s people descended from David forever more. But there had not been a descendant of David on the throne in Jerusalem for 100s of years. The crowds believed Jesus was the king God had promised!

And they believed he was the one blessed by God and completely committed to following God. He came in the name of the lord, he came to bring God’s blessings and promises as he had shown through his miracles and healing.

Most kings and leaders may pay lip service to what God wants, but Jesus is different, he is the king totally in line with God’s will and way. He is God’s gift to us, he is a very different kind of king!

4. Cross

Lastly, we come to the coronation seat or throne. When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem the people were shaken by him. The leaders in Jerusalem were against him and before long there was a different crowd shouting ‘Crucify Him!’

Yet, as he was crucified, a sign was put up on the cross that said, ‘Jesus, King of the Jews.’

The Bible teaches it was on the cross, that he was enthroned that he truly became king. Why? Because on the cross, he was condemning all the wickedness and evil of the world, by taking its guilt on himself. He was also creating a way for us to come back to God, to become part of God’s different Kingdom.

The cross was a seismic moment that shook up not just Jerusalem, but the whole world. Matthew emphasises that by talking about an earthquake that happened at the same time as Jesus died on the cross:

“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split…”

(Matthew 27:51)

The breaking of the temple, showed that Jesus was creating a new way to God, a new way to a better life, following him as king.

In the end it is also a new way to eternal life, because Matthew records another earthquake, only a few days later, when Jesus rose from the dead… but that is for next Sunday!!

Will you make Jesus your king?

All the symbols of Palm Sunday and what happened next, show that Jesus was  very different kind of King that wants to welcome us into a very different kind of Kingdom. It is a kingdom, where Jesus as the gentle crucified king serves us and we learn to serve one another.

It may not look grand, impressive or powerful, but it is a kingdom that has lasted 2,000 years and is still growing around the world. Will you choose like the crowds waving the Palm Branches on that first Palm Sunday to welcome Jesus as your king?

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