Jesus announced the arrival of Israel’s long-awaited messianic King, but the way he asserted his rule was surprising. When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, the city where David once reigned, he did not use violent force to inaugurate his kingdom. Instead he rode into the city, weeping over its corruption and fate (Luke 19:41-44), and then he marched into the temple, the throne room of the God of Israel, to disrupt the sacrificial system and declare that Israel’s rulers were leading the people toward destruction.
This led to Jesus’ eventual arrest, where he was sentenced as a traitor claiming to be the king of Israel. This all led to his death on a Roman execution device, the cross. But the account of Jesus’ death positions his crucifixion as his exaltation as king. He is given a robe, a crown, and a scepter as soldiers bow down to him. To them, it’s a cruel joke, but in reality, it was a royal announcement, a gospel. Jesus was being lifted up as the cosmic King of the world on his wooden throne, where he died because of the sins of his enemies. The cross is the royal announcement that God’s purpose was to rescue his world by dying for it. But because God’s love is more powerful than evil, he overcame it with his resurrection life, which he now offers to anyone who turns and puts their trust in him.