In this Holy Week series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of grace” toward all who followed him as disciples. Many sought to emulate his humble life, obedient self-sacrifice, and unconditional service to others…what will be your response today? As you pray and reflect, behold his glory, believe his message, belong as his beloved disciple, and become more and more like his image, with more of your true identity in Christ Alone.
Holy Week: The Grand Finale
Read Matthew 21: 1-11; Mark 11: 1-11; Luke 19: 28-44
A borrowed donkey as the chosen form of transportation for Jesus to enter Jerusalem? Yes, as it was prophetically foretold and now fulfilled in their midst. “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” With Jesus’ specific instructions about how to secure and use the animal, he sat on the cloaks of his disciples on the back of a donkey for his triumphal entry.
Can you imagine the scene? As Jesus entered the city from the Mount of Olives, people began to gather and spread their cloaks on the road, in addition to those who spread palm branches. “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory to the highest!” Nothing could keep them from their exaltation, including the Pharisees in the crowd who urged Jesus to rebuke and quiet his disciples. But he replied, “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David” they exclaimed. The crowds continued, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee” and their shouts of joy filled the city streets with delight. Everywhere Jesus went on the humble foal he was greeted with wonderful acclaim. The crowd was thrilled with his arrival and they didn’t let the stones do the crying out; they were determined to be the ones who gave voice to the “Hosanna!” greeting he certainly deserved.
But that was yesterday, when on Palm Sunday Jesus entered the city with power from on high, now expressed in his deep humility. Today we begin to settle into the drama of all dramas, the grand finale of Lent. Holy Week has descended on the city of Jerusalem and the apex of the crowd’s acclimation will soon follow with their derision. Mockery, scorn, and bitter contempt will be their mood in just a few days. They swiftly shift from adoration and worship to worthless ridicule almost overnight. Why? How? For what reason? The fickle crowds who once followed his every movement, reached out to him for every possible healing, was now getting ready to dismantle his power and turn against his authority.
But Jesus continues to give of himself with outstretched arms of love. He complies with the prophet’s word and issues the request for a donkey to carry him one last time into Jerusalem as a free man. And all with full knowledge of what’s in store for him later in the week. You can almost see him enduring the ride on the back of a simple donkey for the soul of the crowd. It was the best mode of transport for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who always led by humility, grace, wisdom and love.
Behold him being worshiped and adored; believe in the Lord’s exaltation; belong to the members of the crowd who would stay faithful to the end; and become a worshiper with fresh insight and holy boldness.
For additional reflection today, prayerfully consider the words of this ancient Holy Week hymn, “All Glory Laud and Honor” (Orleans, 1820: Neale, 1851):
All glory, laud and honor,
To Thee, Redeemer, King,
To Whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring.
Thou art the King of Israel,
Thou David’s royal Son,
Who in the Lord’s Name comest,
The King and Blessèd One.
The company of angels
Are praising Thee on High,
And mortal men and all things
Created make reply.
The people of the Hebrews
With palms before Thee went;
Our prayer and praise and anthems
Before Thee we present.
To Thee, before Thy passion,
They sang their hymns of praise;
To Thee, now high exalted,
Our melody we raise.
Thou didst accept their praises;
Accept the prayers we bring,
Who in all good delightest,
Thou good and gracious King.