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Palm Sunday . . . along the Road of Kings

A King Palm aka Alexander Palm
A King Palm aka Alexander Palm. This is along the front wall of our new home. Note barbed wire along top of gate.

3 Prayer needs for our week:

1. Todd and Jessica Burnaman from Dry Creek Baptist Church (LA) arrive for a week with the Kakwa churches in West Nile District, Uganda.

2. Curt and JD Hull spend part of the week in a quarterly review of 2015.  Pray for us as we review, pray, and plan.

3. Pray for DeDe to have focus on linking unreached groups to churches like yours.

 

 

Palm Sunday is  special in Africa.

This is our third one and I learn something every year.

It’s neat to celebrate Palm Sunday in a place with palms.

There are thirteen species of palm trees in our part of Africa.

Date palms, coconut, solum, king, and palm oil.  The list goes on.

Due to the proliferation of these unique trees, palm fronds are everywhere on this Sunday before Easter.

They’re tied to the front grills of matatus (taxis) carried by children on their way to worship.

Our church gave each congregant a palm leaf this morning.  (We’re eight hours ahead of CDT).

Palm frond from church.  Entebbe, Uganda
Palm frond from church. Entebbe, Uganda

In a noisy land where people walk everywhere and a crowd (or mob) can form instantly, it’s easy to visualize Jesus, riding a colt, weaving his way down the Bethany Road, to Kidron Valley, and then the steep climb up to Jerusalem.

A crowd of dozens, then hundreds, even thousands come running.  It’s a mix of the pious, curious and skeptical Passover-bound pilgrims.

It’s possible that coats/robes/palm fronds/tree limbs were laid along the entire path.

A kilometer.

A mile.

Even more.

It was a welcome fit for a king.

The King of the Jews was arriving.

And He wasn’t any ordinary king.

Instead of riding a charging white steed, followed by captured booty and slaves, he rode a unbroken donkey colt.

I’ve always imagined his feet dragging the ground.

Not exactly a majestic picture of a conquering hero.

Once again, he wasn’t your everyday garden-variety king.

This King has predicted his coming death this very week.

He’d even “set his face against Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).  Don’t label this Prince of Peace as a wimp.

No way.

 

This King was coming to die.  As He would famously state later this same week,  “My kingdom is not of this world.”

He was coming to take the place of a murderer named Barabbas.

He came to take my place . . .  and yours too.

The perfect King’s death would pay the price of every sin ever committed.

And then to prove He is the King and had satisfied the sin debt,  He would rise from the dead on the next Sunday.

The day we call Easter.

 

Seeing Jesus’ humble yet magnificent entrance into Jerusalem had to make an impression on those watching as he stops and weeps over the city that has a love-hate relationship with Him.

This very week the hate will overwhelm the love  .  . . at least for the moment on Thursday night, then Friday.

 

I live along what it is called The Road of Kings.

The one road connecting Entebbe to Kampala, Uganda’s capital, is a busy two lane highway.   Due to the International Airport’s location at the end of a peninsula, all vehicle traffic going to the capital must use this one road.

Entebbe is kind of like Bethany.

Kampala’s like Jerusalem.

Presidents, kings, high-ranking officials, and visiting dignitaries land at Entebbe Airport.  Their next stop is Kampala where both the Ugandan president and Bugandan king reside.

We’re readying for a visit by the Pope this summer.

 

We have to be on constant guard driving on the Road of Kings.  Every arriving high official will be escorted from the airport to Kampala by a speeding armed armada.

You hear a siren, look in your review mirror.

You veer for the shoulder, joined by vendors, vehicles, children, bicyclists, boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) and goats all headed for the ditches.

Here comes the lead police vehicle, lights flashing, horn blaring, driving way faster than prudent.

The importance of the visitor determines the size and speed of the convoy.

I saw President Museveni pass one day and his car was surrounded by six motorcyclists, an armored vehicle, ambulance,  SWAT teams in trucks, and a long line of black luxury cars flying national flags.

 

Entebbe (Uganda) Sunset
Entebbe (Uganda) Sunset

We stay on red alert for these speeding convoys.

I always enjoy how you can recognise hanger on vehicles at the end of the escort.  Six black shiny BMWs, headlights flashing, streak by.   A decrepit dented Datsun (looking like the famous Ford Falcon we once owned) brings up the official rear, followed by a dirty Land Cruiser blowing black smoke.

Lights flashing.  Driving to keep up with the convoy.

My colleague and friend, Bob Calvert, once caught the end of a convoy coming south from Up Country Uganda and drove at 120 km for hours to the outskirts of Kampala.

If you know Bob, you know this story is true.

 

This tree is along the Road of Kings near Entebbe. I wonder how many world figures it has seen pass.
This tree is along the Road of Kings near Entebbe. I wonder how many world figures it has seen pass?

 

I contrast those V.I.P escorts on the Road of Kings to the Jerusalem entry of the King of Kings.

Lots of difference.

 

Once again, I stand in amazement at the humble Jewish carpenter who not only changed the world, but changed my life.

Man of sorrows, what a name.

King of Kings.  Lord of Lords.

As I (and you) watch him guiding his unbroken donkey colt up the steep path, there’s a decision to make.

This man, the one they’re calling the King of the Jews, is one of three things.

A lunatic.

A liar.

or exactly who he says he is.  The Son of God.

 

I make my decision.

I throw down my coat over a mudhole.

Toss a palm leaf in the path.

Take a knee as he passes.

Hosanna.  Lord, save us.

King.  King of Kings.

Lord of Lords.

 

What say you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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