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.”
Have you ever been caught in a flow that you felt like you couldn’t get out of? Caught up in a crowd, or in some kind of motion that you just had to ride it out?
As I was reflecting on this passage for Palm Sunday last week, and in conversations with others,, I thought of lots of examples in my life and in culture.
I can remember the first time I went whitewater rafting on the Ocoee river in Georgia. PP
I fell out of the boat in the middle of the biggest rapid…scared the you know what out of me…yet, I remembered the video that they showed us before we got into the raft, if you fall out, point your feet downstream, lay on your back, and go with the flow…it wasn’t easy, yet, I did, and it turned out to be a pretty good experience!
Another time is being at a U2 Concert at the Rose Bowl in California.
Being surrounded by over 100,000 folks screaming and singing and dancing…the mo- ment caught me and I just went with it…it was a great night.
Another example is looking at our current political landscape.
It doesn’t matter what opinions you may or may not have, but it seems like there is a constant flow of information, and even misinformation, taking you in so many different directions. It can be disorienting at times. Yet, we hold out hope that people in leadership can put the money and ideology behind them and begin the process of building up trust and working towards the common good of all.
We all have hopes, dreams, and sometimes even the courage to believe in them.
May we remember when those aspirations don’t turn out the way that we had hoped, that there is always room for growth in ourselves and in our friendships. Sometimes things go the way we had hoped, sometimes even better…even when it seems like the opposite happens than what we expected. Other times we simply don’t see the possibilities that arise when things don’t go as planned. During those times, we may even shirk away from the moment, or work to try and minimize what we think is wrong, or control an outcome.
I think that’s kind of what our scripture is describing today. At least the hope and dreams part.
It’s a day we celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. The folks lining the streets wanted a savior, a king, a Messiah, deliverer. They had heard amazing things about Jesus and here he was coming to Jerusalem for the passover celebration.
The passage is about more than hope in an individual though, these folks that are yelling out praise and proclaiming Jesus as King, are quoting a passage from Psalm 118. They are anticipating Jesus being the hope of all of their generations before…the deliverer from Roman occupation, the reformation and renewal of their temple. In many ways, they are much like us – they want to believe, they want to see that their faith in something or someone become more concrete, something they could touch and see. They wanted to believe that the promises of God being an earthly king with them were coming to fruition.
They wanted certainty.
And, clearly, the writer of Luke is wanting to reinforce that this Jesus is a king…is worthy of praise. However , this king’s kingdom is more than just of this world, but encompasses all of humanity. And, it’s a kingdom of presence, faithful presence…a presence that is more about practice than what you believe in…the practice of living in God’s love and extending it to others. It’s not about certainty, as our friend Walter Brueggemann reminds us, it’s about relational fidelity.
Jesus is on a journey towards Jerusalem with his disciples. Those disciples were folks that had been living around Jesus, seeing how he practiced faith and relational fidelity, as well as what he proclaimed.
In this story, you don’t know which disciples. The writer is taking the focus off of them and squarely on Jesus and the crowds outside of Jesus’ inner circle. It’s as if the writer is saying that Jesus is not just for a select few, but for everyone.
Jesus tells two of the disciples to go and get a colt that has not been ridden. There is a prophetic symbol-ism of the Messiah riding a colt that has never been ridden into Jerusalem. The people in the crowds, or reading Luke in the early church, would have understood this as a sign of God’s fulfillment of God’s prophetic promises. Jesus would ride into Jerusalem, the cultural and spiritual center of Judaism. The symbolic dwelling of God’s earthly presence in the temple. So, the disciples find the colt, the owners ask why they are taking the colt, the disciples say that the Lord needs it. Other gospel narratives have Jesus riding a don-key, symbolizing Jesus’ humility…but, not Luke. A colt is more appropriate for a king.
The crowds are excited, they throw their cloaks on the ground so that even the colt won’t touch the dirt…even the disciples join in! They were in to a flow of the moment, a moment that had building up for a while. This was happening and they were filled with expectation!
The stories before this passage also point towards Jesus’ identity as king, as Lord. But, it seems like the disciples aren’t getting it…the very folks closest to Jesus. Yet, as this story says, and other stories before this, those on the outside of Jesus’ inner circle recognize Jesus as Lord more readily as they experienced his practice of love and inclusion.
The pharisees, religious rulers of the temple, did not live into this hope. They liked things the way they were, it may not have been the best system for everyone, but it’s what they knew. A different future, even one filled with a deeper awareness of God’s Kingdom, had not dawned upon all of them. Jesus’ worldview was different from their worldview and they were not wanting to relinquish their control to God’s viewpoint.
Maybe at one time, these pharisees did have hopes and dreams. But, the weight of the system that they knowingly or unknowingly lived in, had weighed them down. Somewhere in their lives, maybe over time or even generations, they settled for a life they could understand and a God they could control and looked a lot like them, rather than a life filled with abundance, imagination, and mystery in relationship with God.
Some of the Pharisees told Jesus to order his disciples to silence the crowd. Don’t let the crowd say what they were saying…Jesus responds that even if the crowd was silent, the stones would shout out…God’s flow can’t be stopped…even inanimate objects would recognize the abundant life and presence of God’s promises coming true.
At the end of that week, the crowds turned on Jesus as the religious leaders stirred them into action. There was a counter movement to God’s flow. Just as emotion can be filled with hope, that emotion can also be turned towards something more sinister. Fear and anxiety overtook hope and the deeper need for love, change, and growth. Our “shadow sides” can dim our eyes from seeing what we really want or even need. The crowds in this story wanted to go with what they knew, rather than have faith and hope in something even better. So, Jesus is killed.
Yet, that’s not the end of our story, God’s flow overcomes all things.
Nor is it the end of the story with Jesus. He was crucified. Killed in a violent way.
Jesus rose out of the grave three days later and the kingdom of God, or God’s Presence, God’s flow, demonstrated that God’s love for us was stronger than all of the disappointment, all of the weariness. God’s love was deeper than our desire for an earthly king. God’s flow overcame death and showed us that God’s belief in us, God’s expansiveness, God’s love for those on the margins, God’s desire for change, growth, and for a more just system where love is practiced and lived…God’s pursuit of everyone and God’s model of radical inclusive community, is stronger than anything in this world.
Friends, may we live opening and body in this flow of God!