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

Steve is a graduate of Northwestern College (IA) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div. and D.Min.). His prior ministry includes serving on the pastoral staff at Grace Chapel (Lexington, MA) and as president of Vision New England. Since July 1, 2003 Steve has served as founder and president of Leadership Transformations, director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building, and adjunct faculty in the Doctor of Ministry department at Gordon-Conwell. He is the author of sixteen books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective),  Baker bestseller Becoming a Healthy Church, and Crafting a Rule of Life (IVP). He lives in the Boston area with his wife Ruth and is the proud father of two grown children, Rebekah and Nathan, daughter in-love Ashley, and papa to his beloved granddaughter, Brenna Lynn and twin grandsons, Aiden Joseph and Carson Stephen. “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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