The Rightful King

By Michael Fitzpatrick

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 19:28-40

28 After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 32So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34They said, “The Lord needs it.” 35Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. 37As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” 39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” 40He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”


A stirring plotline in the final chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series features Aragorn coming to take his place as the rightful heir to the throne of Gondor. The messianic overtones are not accidental; Tolkien was a man of precious and abiding faith. Yet the story is not easily intuitive for democratic peoples, believing as we generally do that no one has a rightful claim by birth to rule a nation. We believe that positions are merited, that everyone is born equally capable of roles in society, and what roles a person fills depends on what they work toward. Those who merit the popular vote are given access to the highest positions of state and national government.

Tolkien presents a different world, one in which a person is destined for a responsibility whether they want it or not. It’s about living into a role that others need you to perform, because you were the one created for that role. When the time finally comes for Aragorn to accept his crown, the whole of Middle Earth rejoices, because finally, after much darkness, what is meet and right has become so.

That’s how I experience Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. Yes, this one is the Messiah of God! The one who has come to bring peace to this world of war and strife! The rightness of Jesus’ entrance as Christ echoes forth from who he is, the only incarnate Son of the Father, and thereby the only one who can serve as God’s chosen Messiah. The theological destiny of Jesus is so deep that even if the people had not recognized it, the very stones themselves would have sung his praise. What joy it is for us to worship the rightful king!

Michael Fitzpatrick is a doctoral student in philosophy at Stanford University. He attends St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Palo Alto, Calif., where he serves as a lay preacher and teacher.

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Today we pray for:

Diocese of Saskatoon (Canada), the Rt. Rev. Christopher Harper
Diocese of Eastern Himalayas (North India)
Diocese of Northern Indiana, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Douglas E. Sparks


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