Jubilation and grief: entering Jerusalem
If our gospel companions had wondered when Jesus would finally declare himself as Messiah, they wonder no more. They are sure the day has finally come! Join the festive crowd as you enter Matthew’s narrative, and walk alongside Jesus as you read Matthew 21:1-11 and Luke 19:41-44.
As Jesus is seated on a donkey, a crowd of people going up to Jerusalem gather around, some spreading their jackets on the road, and others cutting leafy branches from trees in the nearby fields to lay on the ground ahead of him. They begin shouting the prayer they know by heart from the Hebrew book of prayer, the Psalms.
“Save us, we beseech you, O LORD!
O LORD, we beseech you, give us success!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD.”
Surrounded with this chant of prayer beseeching God for success and salvation, Jesus rides across the foothills of the Mount of Olives, knowing that his life and work have been misunderstood, and that no such political victory will happen. Deep in his heart he grieves over the inability of the people of Israel, God’s own people, to see and embrace the presence of God among them. A sharp contrast in mood, understanding, and action here.
The colt plods steadily along the road as it curves right to run along the Kidron Valley for a short distance and then turns left to begin the climb towards the city. Jesus can see the Golden Gate ahead–entry way into Jerusalem and the temple. Overwhelmed with grief, he weeps, crying out to this beloved city and its people:
“If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes…because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.” “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under wings, and you were not willing!”
This ancient city–and the temple he embraces and knows as his Father’s house, would soon be surrounded by enemies, attacked, and left in rubble.
Jesus is God among us; God coming to us offering peace, the way back home. The things that make for the peace, which Jesus brings will challenge and dismantle the way of the world and all that is not of God. According to the world’s system peace is known when war ceases because the military might and strategy of one nation is greater than the other, when peace treaties are signed and national boundaries agreed on. But God invites us to a deeper peace-making; this peace begins as we embrace the truth that we are at war with God, within ourselves, and with each other. The way back home begins here as we accept God’s way of peace-making.
Take some time to be present for God, simply to be with God.
Offer any resistance you may feel to God.
What are the things that make for peace, God’s deeper peace, in your life?
Prayer before reading:
Lord Jesus Christ,
You come to us.
Help me to see as you see,
To recognize your presence,
And your call
To follow you.
Guide me, us as I learn to walk in your way.
Read slowly. Listen deeply. Indwell the scripture.
Sixth Sunday in Lent: Palm Sunday
4/11 Monday: Matthew 21:1-11
4/12 Tuesday: Luke 19:41-44
4/13 Wednesday: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
4/14 Isaiah 50:4-9a
4/15 Friday: Philippians 2:5-11
4/16 Saturday: Matthew 21:1-11
4/17 Sunday: Luke 19:41-44