Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
28 After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
29 When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “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. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 32 So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They said, “The Lord needs it.” 35 Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road.37 As 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, 38 saying,
“Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!”
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
In 4th grade I was in love with Angel. Yes, that was her name. I got up the nerve one day to write her a note proclaiming my love for her. I saw her read it and smile a bit I think. Later, my friend Fred came up to me and told me he had heard about my love note, that Angel had shared it with him and others, and they all thought it was funny. I was, of course, devastated…and deeply disappointed. What I thought would be one thing, turned out not to be. Well, as we jump into Holy Week…we know that expectations can lead to disappointment…
Here we are on Palm Sunday 2022! And, it’s a big day…the day we kick off Holy Week 2022! This is the week that we begin the home stretch if you will…we have spent the past several days in Lent preparing for this last part of the journey towards the cross. But, we aren’t there yet…we have some more journeying to do…we have some more reality to face…we have some disappointment to do deal with as the story unfolds.
Today though we wave palms and proclaim that Jesus has arrived in Jerusalem! He comes to the city gates having sent two unnamed disciples to get a colt, one that has never been ridden. The other gospel narratives of this story say that Jesus rode a donkey, not a colt. A donkey signified humility, but Luke is making a statement by using a colt, an untamed one at that! This Jesus is making a statement that history is moving towards. It is wild, it is untamed, and it is the center of the universal arc of history that is leading towards victory…that love does ultimately win.
Luke doesn’t name the disciples. He doesn’t even really mention the disciples much. It seems like they were dealing with so many questions, so much doubt, and quite a bit of anxiety. They were uncertain of what was going to happen next, but they had hopes. The crowds on the other hand were filled with folks on the margins, the hoi polloi, common people. There were not the power brokers, but common folk who had heard about Jesus, had seen Jesus, and were drawn to this movement that was radically inclusive and had a promise of something new to emerge.
The power people, the religious leaders, wanted Jesus to silence the crowds, that they were getting out of hand. They were missing the point…Jesus said that he could not and would not stop them, because if he did, then even the rocks would cry out.
All of creation, Jesus is saying in effect, was in eager anticipation of this moment, of this season, that would change everything.
Jesus was on his way to the festival, passover, a celebration, at the Temple, the spiritual center of Judaism…once there, he would proclaim that it would be destroyed and rebuilt in 3 days. In essence, this temple doesn’t contain God, God is contain less, God is in all things. And that his body, the body of Christ, in which we all live in, is universal. And, that in a world filled with wars, disinformation, false narratives that divide us, plagues, pandemics, hunger, crisis after crisis, that there will be peace on earth. Notice that this passage implicitly states that, “peace on earth”, not just some pie in the sky heavenly peace…but, peace now! Restoration from the all of the destructive narratives that divide…restoration to our truest selves as created in God’s image.
Yet, we know the story. These religious leaders, political pawns in a system that they’ve created to benefit them, turn enough of the crowd by the end of the week to turn the proclamations of “hosanna” to “crucify him”. They become disappointed, deeply.
Friends, all of us face holy week, and our lives, with expectations…and often we are disappointed, but disappointment is also key for our growth. Dave Whyte, the poet, says this:
Disappointment is a friend to transformation, a call to both accuracy and generosity in the assessment of our self and others, a test of sincerity and a catalyst of resilience. Disappointment is just the initial meeting with the frontier of an evolving life, an invitation to reality, which we expected to be one particular way and turns out to be another, often something more difficult, more overwhelming and strangely, in the end, more rewarding.
Jesus doesn’t change course that week. He must continue on towards the reality of the ups and downs of the life that he shares with humanity.
He had been journeying upwards, towards Jerusalem. Jerusalem is on a hill, pilgrimages to Jerusalem have an upward movement. It can be hard. Add into that the opposition of some, those with loud voices and a transactional worldview that is skewed towards the few, Jesus knew that the final part of his journey would be the hardest.
After Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, the ascent, the upward movement is over…and the week starts out with a celebration and then moved downward, a descent, into death. Of Jesus giving himself away…of letting love flow out of him into us…Jesus, descending, God with us in the throes of life, of celebration, and of disappointment.
This messenger walked in the way of humility, of giving himself away… check this out in our lectionary passage in Philippians:
5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
– Philippians 2:5-8
It was, as we know. And it holds for us the reality that we have to celebrate a message and the messenger that is bringing Good News of God’s being with all of us. And, we also have to bear the reality that this message and messenger will keep on calling us towards something beautiful and hard: growth and restoration…healing our image of ourselves that we have created towards the image that God has made us in, that we are loved and we are God’s own…and that we are in constant union with God, one another, all of creation, the Universe. We are the body of Christ, the universal body of Christ, and no one is to be left out of that love…this connection calls us to go through darkness, to lean into them, and to remember, to hold on to this narrative that God gives us, and that we proclaim even in the disappointment, even in the darkness. And that embracing this journey, the ups and downs, the celebrations, the expectations, and the hard disappointment, that we come to terms with who we are and we are transformed…resurrected even.