Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem is recorded in all four gospels (Matt.21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19: 29-38; John 12:12-19).
Jesus meets with the crowds, as he passes from Bethany over the Mount of Olives borrowing a donkey en route, and on into the city, into Jerusalem, the next day.
Picture from Fay Rowlands – Reflectionary
One of those kids’ pictures, with Jesus on the donkey and crowds waving Palm branches. Our subliminal picture of the Palm Sunday Crowd.
Was it a grey day? Was it a blue day? Blustery or still? Were you there? Were you there when they welcomed Jesus in? Were you there when they all ‘Hosannahed’ him? Ooooh, sometimes, it causes me to wonder, Was I there when they welcomed Jesus in?
Along the dusty roadside, as the population swells to 100,000 to celebrate the start of the barley harvest and commemorate Passover, crowds jostle for position, camp on the roadsides, eat a snack, chat to their neighbour, crane their ears for clues, wonder and joke, blaspheme and drop litter…
Roads approaching Jerusalem and the temple courts are crowded, folk travelling from all over, taking up space, making it smell, finding the opportunity to make a profit, looking forward to celebrating, being with family, meeting with friends, catching up.
But there are rumours in the air… Jesus of Nazareth is on his way in, with his followers… the miracle maker, peace-preacher, God-botherer! Is he really coming in on horseback? Some say he could even be the Messiah… really?? Will the sparks of revolution be ignited into a conflagration…? What will the scribes and pharisees say… the powers that be… the Roman soldiers gathered in quiet cohorts on street corners and back alleyways…
There’s a ripple through the crowd, a buzz, like the rising beat of a drum, like a riff running through, touching the excitement deep within… lifting, carrying… Hosannah, Hosannah, tossed from voice to voice… carried on the air, the strains of insurgency flitting and touching, evaporating, taking root here and there… in Aramaic … ‘Save, Rescue, Saviour…’ . It’s the voice of the people, raised in hope… a cry for help… addressed to the man on … on… the donkey…?
Some in the crowd treat Jesus like a King, their main man, their last hope. They pull branches from the trees, palm branches as a sign of national fervour, or lay their coats in the dirt under the feet of the patient animal, to ease his way forward. Jesus sometimes reaches out an arm in greeting to those he knows. There are chats, catcalls, some draw alongside to accompany him, smiles and kindness like an aura as the King comes… on the borrowed donkey. Gentle, bearing the gift of Life.
He’s near us now… ‘There he is!’ ‘That’s the man who gave me sight, praise God!’ ‘There’s the man who healed the lepers’. ‘Better than that – last week he raised Lazarus from the DEAD!’ ‘The trouble maker’ ‘Son of Mary’ The Nazarene… what good thing come out of Nazareth!’ Locals and strangers, all wanted to see him…Jews, Greeks and Galileans… other scattered children of God… the cacophony of variety… Jesus’ mission at this very point has moved beyond Jerusalem to encompass the whole created world…the uproar was huge, was there a voice from heaven… the crisis is upon us.
Sometimes he seems so lost in thought, within himself, focussing…As he closes in on the city they see He is weeping…The very stones seemed to be crying out… What’s that he said –‘I, as I am lifted up from the earth, will attract everyone to me, and gather them around me’…Jesus knew the crisis, the crux, the cross-point had come. He would need to withdraw from the tension to gather himself, if he was to fulfil God’s purposes… The time had come.
But some turn aside whispering: ‘Not what we expected’ ‘Disappointing’ ‘What good is He?’ Some sneak off to inform the nearest authorities, of trouble brewing…priests and scholars were looking for a way they could seize Jesus by stealth and kill him. The political fervour is at boiling point, the plot was afoot… someone or several primed for the task… spies ready and watching, harassing his known friends…anger roiled just under the surface…there was a price on Jesus’ head. Would they find a Judas sufficiently disillusioned, to step up?
The crowd’s voice is raised: Psalm 118:25 is echoed. ‘Blessed is he who comes, the King in God’s name! All’s well in heaven! Glory in the High places! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’
Can you put yourself into that crowd, and if so, what is in your speech bubble? Make a choice, make it quickly, while there is still light!