Are we ready to journey with Jesus into death and beyond?
Everything about Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem is a sign of his messiahship. Pilgrims normally entered Jerusalem on foot; Jesus distinguishes himself by calling for a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat – a colt unprofaned by human ridership, born for this purpose and this purpose alone, to carry the Messiah on his journey of triumph into the city. Moreover, only a king had the right to claim use of another’s possessions without question. The Master has need of it, the disciples are to explain. Cloaks were not normally spread upon the road, but Mark’s Gospel tells us that Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.
As Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem, those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out: Hosanna! Why? It is a prayer, a request: help us, save us! The people are looking for a Messiah, someone to shift the oppressive political structure under which they live. Jesus will instead shift the power structure of their faith and devotion so that they might embrace a deep and meaningful relationship with God as their king.
Once inside the city walls, Jesus will prove to be the suffering servant foreseen in Isaiah, whose crucifixion will fulfill so much of Psalm 22, but who will pray that psalm on the cross not only as a lament but also with an element of praise for deliverance. Having emptied himself, he will obedient to the point of death, and yet ultimately, as the hymn in Philippians makes clear, God will greatly exalt him. May we keep Jesus’ journey in mind through this Holy Week, meditating on that parabolic descent and ascent, following him without question, without reserve, as he takes humanity to the cross and raises us up with him on Easter Sunday!
This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
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