Friends, on this Palm Sunday we are privileged to become immersed in Mark’s great Passion narrative, where the kingship of Jesus emerges with great clarity—and also with great irony.
We read that upon being brought before the Sanhedrin, Jesus is asked whether he is the “Messiah,” an implicit reference to David. When Jesus calmly responds, “I am,” the high priest tears his robes, for how could a shackled criminal possibly be the kingly descendant of David? Upon being presented to Pilate, Jesus is asked the functionally equivalent question: “Are you the King of the Jews?” Again a blandly affirmative answer comes: “You say so.” This leads the soldiers to mock him, placing a purple cloak on his shoulders and a crown of thorns on his head.
Mark does not want us to miss the irony that, precisely as the King of the Jews and the Son of David, Jesus is implicitly king to those soldiers. For the mission of the Davidic king is the unification not only of the tribes of Israel but also of the tribes of the world. What commenced with David’s gathering of the tribes of Israel would soon reach completion in the criminal raised high on the cross, thereby drawing all people to himself.