He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord
By Dr. Bill Mankin
And they brought the colt to Jesus, and threw their garments on it; and he sat upon it. And many spread their garments on the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:7-10, RSV)
On a Sunday morning, a column of Roman soldiers led by the prefect of the province on his mighty destrier approached Jerusalem from the west, trumpets blaring, flags flying, armor flashing, pushing ordinary Jews aside from the road. At the same time, a prophet, teacher, and healer approached from the east to the tumultuous cries of the crowd. “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” The remarkable contrast impels us to consider which of these two was blessed and was a blessing to humanity—the brutal, heartless prefect who was recalled to Rome because of his excessive cruelty, or the peaceable prophet who came in the name of the Lord and was anointed to “preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” The one who died in obscurity and anonymity or the one whose death and resurrection is celebrated regularly in tens of millions of churches? Pilate disappeared as a footnote to history while Jesus is worshipped by billions. It is indeed the one who comes in the name of the Lord who is blessed and who blesses humanity.
While Jesus is the supreme example, he is not the only one who comes to us in the name of the Lord, and whose coming has been a blessing. The Lord uses ordinary humans who dedicate themselves to his purposes, as well as his Divine Son. Their commitment to God’s way brings blessings to the world.
We think of Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Martin Luther King, Jr. who gave their lives to improving the conditions of African Americans. Tubman helped hundreds of slaves escape to freedom; Douglass was a tireless abolitionist, working to end the legal system of slavery. In the next century, King led the movement to afford civil rights to African Americans. And the world is blessed.
Martin Luther and Pope Francis came in the name of the Lord to restore a church that had lost its way in following Jesus. And the church is blessed.
Walter Rauschenbusch and Clara Barton strove to improve the conditions of the impoverished and suffering. Rauschenbusch’s care for the downtrodden in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen and his intellectual leadership in understanding the social gospel changed the way the church viewed its mission. Clara Barton’s service nursing soldiers of both sides during the Civil War, efforts to reunite soldiers and families after the war, and founding of the American Red Cross provided support for those suffering from disasters. And society is blessed.
Many other examples could be given: Mother Teresa and Florence Nightingale, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Albert Schweitzer, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu—all persons who have come in the name of the Lord and have blessed humanity.
May we also be among them.
Prayer. Jesus, whose triumphal entry to Jerusalem was one of peace and blessing, grant that we may follow in your way and “preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” and thereby bless the world. In your name, Amen.
Ministry and Mission Coach