The Upside-down Kingdom


Throughout the Gospels, Jesus talked about and demonstrated a kingdom that was very different from the one the Israelites spent centuries waiting for. This kingdom would be on God’s terms. The least would be the greatest; the path to finding one’s life would be marked with loss, and the Son of Man, their king, was going to die. Jesus accepted this, and was deliberate in his choices and in complete control of the events that transpired around him.

  • Do you think the kingdom of God contradicts the American dream? How or why not?


28 And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. What details in this passage signify a king was entering Jerusalem?
  2. What was the mood of the people when they saw Jesus?
  3. Based on what the crowd was shouting, it would seem that anticipation was building for a new reign by a new king that would inevitably bring a welcome change to their circumstances. (If the Jews had their promised king, he would overthrow Rome, or so they thought). Do you ever find yourself in the same place? Looking to Jesus for a better life, rather than simply looking to Jesus?
  4. It feels so un-American not to win. It must have felt so anti-climatic to the disciples, to make it all the way to Jerusalem with the Messiah yet to remain subject to Roman rule. When your cultural conditioning or your personal expectations collide with God’s more perfect way, what is your reaction? Do you have a specific instance you can talk to God about right now?


It almost starts to sound like a broken record, this message that God is in control. I wonder if that’s the reason we as humans constantly struggle with “control issues”? Our sin-infested selves want to take what isn’t ours; but control of our circumstances and the overall plan for our lives is not ours. It is God’s alone. This truth can be a mighty comfort when storms surge and all seems lost. This truth can also be the force that breaks us when we are blindsided or disappointed, and we choose to rage rather than bow down.

  • Pray for a heart that gladly surrenders control to the One who already has it anyway. Seek comfort from the Holy Spirit in your difficult circumstances today.