It is clear that God intends for the king to be a godly man. There are expectations set in place that will set him apart, but at the same time keep him humble. Does that make sense? No multiple wives, no excessive riches, no stables full of horses. The job description of king doesn’t sound all that appealing if you are someone who is arrogant and seeking power to move ahead your own agenda.
God intends for the kings to stay true to their heritage of faith. To be a good king, then, they should be in direct communication with God every day, reading God’s instruction daily so he doesn’t go astray. Note the passage says the king “must copy for himself this body of instruction on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests.” It’s not just reading the law, it’s writing it down, in your own hand. There’s something powerful that happens when you rewrite words. It’s a “brain hack” you might say.
What must Jesus have been feeling? He knew what was coming. It wasn’t going to be pretty, but it was going to be the most beautiful thing he could ever do for those he loved. For us. The time was drawing near. Jesus was human, so he had to be fearful. You know that sick feeling you get when you dread something–that’s what I imagine Jesus was feeling that night. Yet, his love for his friends was stronger.
Jesus’ relationship was secure. God was his Father and he would soon be returning to him. There was no doubt about that. Knowing this truth must have also led to complete and total freedom! Jesus knew who had his back. But he would be leaving his friends behind. Imagine you knew you were going to die, what would you want to tell your friends? Jesus had another lesson left to teach.
The nuggets of wisdom continue. I’m sure if I read this same
passage a week from now a different proverb would speak to me. But for this
reflection let’s look at verse 2. It says, “Let someone else praise you,
not your own mouth—a stranger, not your own lips.” I have always struggled
with tooting my own horn. It’s also hard for me to accept praise from others. What
Do you have a hard time accepting compliments or praise? We all
know people who don’t seem to have any trouble telling others how awesome they
are. In fact, you may even be picturing a few of them this very moment. It’s
not attractive is it? When we see others applauding their own success it can be
intimidating, too. It’s much more acceptable when another person is praising
them for their good deeds.
Would you agree that most people would rather take the
shorter route to their destination? Or perhaps the fastest route would be
better? To say the least, we are a destination focused society. Think of these
examples. On vacation, you are heading somewhere. When reading a book, your
destination is the ending of the story. When in school, you are working toward
a degree or certification. Whatever the destination is, there is a journey to
What if the journey is more important than the destination? Are we spending too much time focused on outcome that we miss the beauty of the steps to get there? Think of all the people who want to be famous and receive recognition and honor. That is the destination they seek. Verse 33 would say, “Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor.” We must humble ourselves first. If our “destination” is fame and glory, we need to first step back, humble ourselves, and prepare our hearts for the honor. We need not discount the beautiful journey we will take to get there and be more focused on serving and blessing others.
When you think of Palm Sunday, what is the first memory that comes to your mind? Please share in the comments. I’m expecting that waving palm fronds and processionals come to mind. We did a treasure hunt for the kids at our last church with all the elements of the Passion. The kids found eggs with trinkets to help them tell the Easter story. It was powerful for me. I hope it created a memorable experience for the kids, too.
Now as I write this reflection, it’s the first part of October. Not the usual time for thinking about this story. Putting those limiting thoughts aside, I read the passage again with fresh eyes. What I see today is a beautiful display of prophecy fulfilled. Matthew’s entire gospel is rich with examples of prophecies that have been completed.