When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! 10Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 11Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
Here we are—bustling city, Passover festival, and a parade! It seems that we’re not in the wilderness anymore! As Jesus comes into Jerusalem, there is excitement and joy. He is here! And they honor him. But, to be honest, we probably read a little bit more into this parade than is there. From the time I was little, I had this sense that Jesus came into the middle of the city, flanked by the all of the crowds. He was “it.” (But then it didn’t make much sense as to why it went so badly so fast.) The truth is, Jesus was not “it” in Jerusalem. Jesus was heading what was then a small fledgling movement on the outskirts of established religion. He was coming down a narrow road that winds down Mt. Olivet and was then entering through the eastern gate of Jerusalem, the “back door” of the city, for all practical purposes. Hmmm! It seems that Jesus makes a habit of coming in the back door—into forgotten grottos and wilderness baptisms and ministries that begin around a lake rather than a Holy City. So this seems only fitting. Maybe that’s the point. God doesn’t always enter in the way we expect, doesn’t always show up when it fits the best into our schedule. Instead, God slips in through the back door of our wilderness lives when we sometimes barely notice and makes a home with us.
So the onlookers stay around for just a little while. And then the parade fizzles. As the road goes by the Garden of Gethsemane and down toward Bethany and the outer walls of Jerusalem, many leave and go back to their lives. Maybe they had something to do; maybe they didn’t want to contend with all the holiday traffic in downtown Jerusalem; or maybe they were afraid of what might happen. So Jesus enters the gate of the city almost alone, save for a few of the disciples.
Where are we in this moment? Jerusalem is here. The wilderness through which we’ve traveled is behind us. But it has prepared us for a new wilderness of sorts. As followers, we know that the road is not easy. It will wind through this week with the shouts of “Crucify him” becoming louder and louder. The road is steep and uneven. And the shouting stones and clanging iron against wood will be deafening. But this is the way—the way to peace, the way to knowing God. This is our road; this is our Way; this is the procession to life. The way to the Cross, through the wilderness of this week is our Way to Life.
Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass.. it’s about learning to dance in the rain. (Vivian Greene)
FOR TODAY: Keep walking. Keep following. There is no way around. Walk with Jesus all the way to the Cross. For there, you will find life.
Grace and Peace,