BY STEVE DUNN
Part 1 of a Series: Reflecting on Holy Week
If you were raised in the Christian community you will know that today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of what is known as Holy Week. Palm Sunday celebrates Jesus’ very public entry into Jerusalem as pilgrims were gathering there for the major Jewish celebration of Passover. It is the commencement of a series of events that would ultimately result in Jesus’ execution on a Roman cross on a very bad day which Christians actually call Good Friday.
The story recorded in all four Gospels reports that Jesus entered the gates of Jerusalem as a liberating king.
“They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” – Luke 19.35-38
People often ask, “Why a colt?” (other accounts report accompanied by a donkey). First it is the fulfillment of a prophecy from Zechariah identifying the true mission of the Messiah, the liberating king. “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (9.9) In so doing Jesus was openly declaring that he was the liberating king, the Messiah, they had been waiting for.
But more importantly he was clarifying or correcting their expectations. In his day, conquering kings would enter the gates of a city on the back of a powerful stallion. But a peacemaking king came on the back of a colt or donkey.
The people of Jerusalem were looking for a mighty warrior that would drive the occupying Romans out and restore their nation to political glory. They expected the king to make Israel great again.
That was not Jesus’ agenda. He was coming to help people make their peace with God. He was coming to be the Prince of Peace. The might of his godliness was intended to transform lives not the political realities.
It is no wonder that the crowds of Jerusalem quickly turned on him and called for His death.
Peace on earth is elusive and incomplete as long as it is in the hands of men. True peace begins with each of us being transformed by the peace of God. As Paul would write to the Romans, who lived at the center of world power in that day: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ …” (Romans 5.1)
As we so often learn too late, God has a different agenda. And His agenda is what truly brings us what we need.
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