In today’s Gospel of text, Luke we get a distinctive glimpse into the ministry of our Lord. As we look at this passage, Jesus accomplishes four things by going to Jerusalem:
1. He is responsible for a public demonstration on his behalf.
2. He forces the hand of the Jewish leaders, which brings their timetable in line with God’s.
3. He fulfills the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9—”Your King comes…on a donkey.”
4. He is the Messiah and shows himself as one who brings peace rather than war.
Jesus’ “going up” to Jerusalem is a public event. Luke interpreted as a royal entry. It is Passover and the crowd is loud.
First, Jesus sends two of his disciples to find a colt for him to ride into the city. Jesus tells them if anyone asks why they are untying it, simply say “The Lord needs it.” In fact, the owners of the colt do ask, why the disciples are untying it, and the disciples respond, “The Lord needs it” (19:30-32). One wonders why the owners of the colt accepted this response so readily. The text seems to highlight the fact that the Jesus has authority over and above all human beings.
The fact that Jesus enters Jerusalem riding on a colt to the shouts of the crowd is a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion, shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt the foal of a donkey.”
Just as Jesus had brushed aside the warnings of the Pharisees before (Luke 13:32-33), he does so once again, saying, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out” (19:40). Jesus knows full well the opposition he faces, but he will not be deterred from his mission.
On Palm/Passion Sunday, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is royal, triumphant, but we know how the people will turn against Jesus. We know that many in the crowds who hail Jesus as king on this Sunday will be crying out for his crucifixion by Friday. I’m sure they expected a mighty warrior-king who would drive out the Romans. HoweverSeeing Jesus held by Roman soldiers, weak and vulnerable, they will decide that he is not the king they want after all. In fact, supporting him could be downright dangerous.
Luke’s passion story gives us a variety of human responses to Jesus. The story moves from faith and jubilant praise to hostility, mockery and violence. Yet throughout this story of vacillating human responses, of human blindness, weakness, and hardness of heart, one thing remains constant: God’s will to show mercy and to save. Without jumping ahead to the end of the story just yet, we can affirm that even in the midst of this human tragedy, God is at work for good.
Jerusalem is where Jesus will die. This is also where he will be resurrected and where the church will be born at Pentecost in Acts 2.(also written by Luke). Once the Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples, they will become Jesus’ witnesses “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8). In other words, Jerusalem—the place of Jesus’ death—will also be the starting place for the worldwide proclamation of the Gospel.
My question for us today is, “Where do we see ourselves in this story?” We have the advantage of 2000 years of hindsight, and it is easy to judge the characters in the story from a distance. Are we really so very different from them? How quickly we lose our faith falter when God does not deliver what we are expecting? How quickly does our discipleship disappear when we realize the great cost and risks of following Jesus? How often do our self-serving instincts lead us to deny Jesus and his claim on our lives?
Tune in to our live-stream Palm Sunday Services as we hear of Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem.
“I don’t know how, but i know WHO!”
Grace and Peace,Pastor Nelda
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