As Jesus enters Jerusalem with friends and followers waving palms, not swords, we see again into the heart of God. A significant detail (often overlooked) noted by Matthew, Mark, and Luke is that Jesus rides into the city on a colt that has never been ridden. An unbroken colt! As student pastor in the Rocky Mountains many years ago, I attended many riding and roping shows and saw what usually happened to people who sat on untamed colts, especially in the midst of shouting crowds! I sense an underlying smile here as the writer of Mark’s Gospel contemplates this little miracle, less spectacular than stilling a storm or raising the dead but no less significant in its depiction of gentle power. Jesus does not need a warrior’s stallion. The untamed young horse makes the point just as well. The power that enters the gates of our hearts does not force or violate but calms, transforms, and guides us.
We read another often overlooked detail in the clamor of Palm Sunday in the last verse of today’s reading. At the end of this incredible day, Jesus does not set up a command center in Jerusalem. He leaves the city and goes to the suburb of Bethany, we assume to spend the night with his beloved friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. At the height of his triumph, all he wants is to rest in that quiet, loving circle of friendship. We know that extraordinary days of intensity, confrontation, and challenge lie ahead of him. But on that first night perhaps what he most needs is the hearts of his friends.
“Who is this King of glory?” All week we have reflected on glimpses of God’s heart through scripture. How do we feel more prepared to respond to that ancient question?
God of supreme yet gentle power, I open my heart to you, so that you may enter and be at home with your friend. Amen.
This week’s readings prepare us for Palm Sunday, a joyous event. Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, a symbol of kingship in ancient Israel. The people greet him with loud acclamations. He is coming in the name of the Lord! Standing along the road leading into Jerusalem, how could anyone imagine what would happen that following week? Wasn’t Jesus finally going to manifest the fullness of God’s power, take his place on the throne of David, and overthrow the Romans? No, because that was not his mission. He came not to build an earthly kingdom but to lay aside his rights. He came to be glorified by being humiliated . . . for us. He came to suffer and die . . . for us.
• Read Isaiah 50:4-9a. What situations have called you to move forward in vulnerability, “knowing that God promises not safety but limitless strength”?
• Read Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29. When have you claimed God’s strength to see you through “the gates of righteousness”?
• Read Mark 11:1-11, 15-18. In a trying time in your life, when have you turned to the love and care of friends? How have you experienced God’s entering your life calmly and gently?
• Read Philippians 2:5-11. How does this early Christian hymn of the church speak to you as you enter Holy Week?
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This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.