Hi everyone. Rob here.
We’re in Holy Week as we build towards the trial, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, our older brother, our Lord and King, our friend and rescuer. On Sunday we reflected on Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey’s colt with the shouts of “Hosanna!” ringing in his ears. The crowd that gathered outside Jerusalem were an eclectic mob. Many were there because Jesus had recently raised Lazarus from the dead. Others had followed Jesus for much longer, having experienced his miracles, teaching and authority back in Galilee. The point is that the crowd were not people from Jerusalem. They were outsiders cheering on their Messiah as he went into the epicentre of Jewish religion, politics and power.
The crowd had expectations of Jesus. Messiahs don’t enter Jerusalem as tourists and sightseers. They enter in order to overthrow corrupt forces, kick out foreigners and invaders and reclaim the city for God. In other words, Roman forces needed to go, corrupt leaders needed to go and the Messiah needed to sit on the Davidic throne as King. But Jesus didn’t ride on a white stallion. He rode in on a donkey’s colt, with no army, no elaborate entourage. He entered and this happened:
Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve (Mark 11:11).
Nothing happened, at least not initially. There was no welcoming party, no official reception, no perceived threat. Jesus entered Jerusalem and Jerusalem shrugged its shoulders and carried on with life. Jesus wandered out and went back over the hill to his friends.
That’s how the week starts, yet it ends with Jesus on a cross, crucified as an Enemy of the State. The outsiders hailed him as Messiah and the insiders had him killed. How did that happen? Well, Jesus did spend the week picking fights, challenging authority figures and drawing crowds to himself. He went back to Bethany and made a whip. In an act of prophetic theatre he drove the moneychangers from the temple and made himself a truckload of enemies. He took on religious leaders with none-too-subtle parables and authoritative teaching. Most of all he undermined the authority of the temple and the temple establishment when he predicted its demise. He also made clear that he was the temple that would be destroyed and would rise again.
So, let’s be clear. Jesus entered Jerusalem on a mission to speak the truth and suffer the consequences. This led him into direct conflict with the religious and political authorities and resulted in his shameful execution on a cross. He knew it would end that way. The crowd that called for his crucifixion was not the crowd that chanted ‘Hosanna’ and laid down palm branches for their Messiah. The outsiders called him Lord and the insiders wanted him dead. The powerless knew that he was their hope, but the powerful saw him as a threat.
Jesus’ crucifixion seems like a victory to the methods and mindset of the powerful and defeat for the hope and aspirations of the powerless. But the temple would be destroyed and then it would rise again. The seemingly powerful ones win temporary victories in this world but the real story is that the man on a donkey’s colt, the theatrical prophet, the teacher, the miracle worker, the crucified one is the victorious King. His kingdom, that welcomes in the sinners and the suffering, is the one that lasts forever. The thrones of the world don’t last. Everything dies. If that’s the case then I choose to align myself with the one who holds the power of resurrection in his hands. Jesus, I choose you.
This week may you enter into the suffering of Jesus, knowing that the powers of this world may rage, but they can never truly win.
Grace and peace.