Cloak or Branch?

The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21: 1-11) is a dramatic commencement into Holy Week.

Here Jesus is living out a prophetic fulfillment on the back of a donkey, “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The disciples did exactly as Jesus had instructed them, found, untied, and prepared the donkey. Sitting on the donkey Jesus was ushered through the large crowds into the city.

I find it interesting that we’re told the disciples’ cloaks were placed on the donkey where Jesus sat for the ride. We’re also told that a very large crowd placed their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. All done in preparation for the entry into Jerusalem with shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

If you were there, would you have taken off your cloak and thrown it on the ground so the donkey could step on it as Jesus rode into the city? Or, would you have chosen instead to cut off a branch from the tree? Which do you imagine was more symbolic of the heart of the one making the offering? I never really noticed this detail until today when at church some were waving their palm branches with enthusiasm and others were simply holding them stiff as a board.

“Who is this?” the city folk asked…”Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth” they replied. But within a matter of a few short days they would cry even louder “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

I wonder…would it have mattered then what you put on the ground for the donkey to trample a few days before? Would you care if you left branches on the side of the road, or would you look carefully at your cloak with hoof prints on it as a reminder of that infamous day? Cloaks last; branches don’t. Cloaks re-worn days later bring back the memorable sights, sounds, and smells. Forgotten branches crushed afoot die off like hardened hearts.

The journey into Holy Week is relived once more. Take off your cloak, let it be trampled on, and then be sure to re-wear it with joy.

“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”


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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.