By Sharon Kniss
EMU class of 2006
Read: Mark 11:1-11
Reflect: These 11 verses are entitled “Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem” in most Bibles. However, eight of the 11 verses are about finding a donkey, and the final verse concludes that Jesus “entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the 12.” Some triumphal entry that was! Sounds as though no one was even in the temple.
The followers of this movement certainly expected a triumphal entry. It didn’t seem to matter that this man came riding on a donkey; cloths and branches from the fields were scattered along the road and hosannas! were shouted as if this was their new king. But to come bouncing along on a donkey, enter an empty and dark city, and return to a “safe” place such as Bethany for the night? Sounds almost cowardly. [Of course the following verses which include the “cleansing of the temple” disprove any thoughts of Jesus being cowardly.]
At one of the most climactic moments in Jesus’ story, these verses show me the subversive and radical nature of Jesus’ life and ministry: bringing about the upside-down kingdom of justice and peace. He does not come as a new king of an earthly kingdom, but comes instead to disturb the imperial powers and initiate the re-establishment of justice for all people.
Not following people’s expectations, Jesus heads toward Jerusalem taken by a donkey and apparently without a welcome horn fanfare or battle clash when he first steps foot in the city. Yet he heads towards Jerusalem with determination, far from sitting on his bum in complacency, but listening to the creative voice of God and taking part in this magnificent drama which turned the world on its head.
Harry Belafonte’s song “Turn the world around” says: “We come from the fire, living in the fire…go back to the fire, turn the world around. … We are of the spirit, truly of the spirit; only can the spirit turn the world around.”
In the reflective space of Lent, we consider our radical calling as followers of Jesus. We come from the fire and are born of the spirit: we are a part of this earth and this history but are created by God and bear God’s spirit in us. We must reclaim our roots and our purpose and help turn the world around.
Respond: How am I participating in this “turning of the world”? Have I been expecting and waiting for triumphant entrances or am I prepared to see and take part in the creative working of God around me in potentially surprising and unexpected ways?