Matthew 21:1-17 As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to Bethpage at the Mount of Olives. There Jesus sent two of the disciples on ahead (2) with these instructions: "Go to the village there ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied up with her colt beside her. Untie them and bring them to me. (3) And if anyone says anything, tell him, 'The Master needs them'; and then he will let them go at once." (4) This happened in order to make come true what the prophet had said: (5) "Tell the city of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you! He is humble and rides on a donkey and on a colt, the foal of a donkey." (6) So the disciples went and did what Jesus had told them to do: (7) they brought the donkey and the colt, threw their cloaks over them, and Jesus got on. (8) A large crowd of people spread their cloaks on the road while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. (9) The crowds walking in front of Jesus and those walking behind began to shout, "Praise to David's Son! God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise be to God!" (10) When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was thrown into an uproar. "Who is he?" the people asked. (11) "This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee," the crowds answered. (12) Jesus went into the Temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the stools of those who sold pigeons, (13) and said to them, "It is written in the Scriptures that God said, 'My Temple will be called a house of prayer.' But you are making it a hideout for thieves!" (14) The blind and the crippled came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. (15) The chief priests and the teachers of the Law became angry when they saw the wonderful things he was doing and the children shouting in the Temple, "Praise to David's Son!" (16) So they asked Jesus, "Do you hear what they are saying?" "Indeed I do," answered Jesus. "Haven't you ever read this scripture? 'You have trained children and babies to offer perfect praise.' " (17) Jesus left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
Palm Sunday March 28 2021
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of our hearts, be acceptable in your
sight O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen
Imagine we are on the outskirts of Jerusalem with Jesus.
The road is full of people
making their pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the festival;
men and women living under the rule of Rome
and wanting desperately to be free
and be their own people.
Men and women about to celebrate the great festival
in this famous of all cities, the city of David.
Jesus has sent some of his disciples to the home of a friend.
A colt—a donkey had been secured and held for him
until the day he would need it—
and they have gone with the message
the Master has need of it now.
For those of us who have journeyed with Jesus these past months
again another hope has been shattered.
Why? with all the people
with all the national fervour that is possible
why a donkey?
Certainly ridden by kings but only when they come in peace
only when they come in mercy—
never when they come in war
never to declare a great victory.
And before this day if Jesus had only planned for a warhorse
any kind of horse
then—well we have a few swords
and maybe just maybe
we could turn the tide against the Romans
and establish God’s kingdom this very week.
We could overthrow the Romans
and with Jesus as our leader
with this power he has
nothing could stop us.
But he has chosen a donkey—
Now we are moving towards Jerusalem.
We have laid cloaks before him
people have joined in by laying their cloaks down—just like they used todo in the days
when Israel was powerful
some are waving palm branches.
One of the disciples has taken up the cry “Hosanna,”
“God Save now,” “God deliver your people now”
crying to God to break in and to save his people—
a cry that means the Messiah has come and God will
restore the kingdom.
Others have taken up the cry “Hosanna, Hosanna”—God save now
God save now!
So we have great hopes as we are coming up the hill just before we seethe city. The
crowd is with us—some Pharisees are complaining to Jesus about what we are all
calling out. And want him to stop us—
For once it seems he has done the right thing
he has actually waved them off
and said something about the stones beginning to sing if we stopped.
We are on top of the hill now and there is Jerusalem
and a cheer went up as we saw it.
The crowd is spilling ahead of us
Jesus has pulled his donkey to a halt—
James and John are right there with him
With all this positive affirmation, something seems to be wrong with Jesus.
The word has come to us that he is crying.
Peter says Jesus is crying for Jerusalem
something about wanting to gather them as a hen gathers her chicks
and holds them safe
and how they would never allow it to happen.
John is saying that he is back on his strange pictures of God again
that Jesus is suggesting that all God has ever wanted to do was to gather people to him
so close they could hear his heartbeat
so close they could feel his protection and love
so close they would know always a place of protection.
I was happy to follow this Jesus back here in AD 32
while I thought there was always a possibility we could win
so to speak—
we had a chance. For a while it seemed we did.
The crowd was with us
That was before he started crying.
But not just crying—deep guttural sobs are coming from him.
If he had used this moment to proclaim his party manifesto
if he used this moment to rally the people
to talk about his reforms
to perhaps use some show of power
something to convince people that he is a king
—but kings don’t cry.
And as for the rumor that he and God are one
can you imagine for an instance that God cries over his people
can you imagine God wanting to hold us so close
God wanting to gather us under the shelter of his wings
God caring when there is division between people
God hurting when we hurt?
Why the way he talks some time
you would almost think
that the God he calls “daddy”
the God he claims he is so intimate with
you would almost think that he feels
that this God would even die for people.
And that worries me you see—
what sort of a kingdom of God would we have
where God allows himself to die?
What sort of a leader is he who would allow himself to be put to death?
Jesus wants to look around the temple
and we are reminded some of us that some twenty or so years ago
remember when his parents thought he was lost
he had called this very place “his Father's house.”
It’s dusk as we head out heading back to Bethany
to the home of Mary and Martha—
It’s been one of those peculiar days.
The light is fading
and the shadows in the dusk seem almost frightening
Jesus is quiet—almost as if something is on his mind
Roman soldiers are everywhere and they bring a smell of death with them.
I am thinking about what he has been saying about Jerusalem over the last months,
and the sight of soldiers
and swords and spears—I am reminded that Rome kills people
who are a threat, by nailing them to crosses and letting them
hang until they strangle—
A coldness sweeps across as we make our way—
Another picture has come to my mind—that picture
he spoke of —of a chick running for cover at any sign of danger
any threat—running when darkness is about to descend
running for the shelter of its mother’s wings
running there when life is threatened
running there when it comes against those things
those events of life
that it has no answers for;
because I think and I am sure we both know that at times
things happen to us
things have happened to us
and we couldn’t stop them
and we had no answers that would help or change things
and the thought of running and hiding under the shelter of the “wings”
of Jesus—the wings of God
hearing his great heart…
And I realize as we approach Bethany now, the lights showing us the way
that before my life is gone
there will be times when I will need such wings
and such a heart to beat for me
and such a one to hold me—
and if not before I die—surely after then.
And I wish he would establish his kingdom.
If only we can keep him safe over this next couple of weeks
because despite my misgivings about him here in AD 30 —and you have probably felt
this as well as we journey—
as much as I would like to opt for some more-powerful career
yet his words speak deeper and truer
to my heart than any other. Almost as if in him there is some kind of life
life that is found in no other.
And I would like that life to be found in me—
If only we can keep him alive over this next week.
Now unto God the Father, God the Son and God, the holy Spirit, be all the honour and
glory, world without end. Amen
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