The Gospel of Luke has a long section, chapters 10–19, in which Jesus makes slow progress toward Jerusalem. Along the way he tells stories, heals the sick, and speaks to crowds. Before Jesus’ final entry to the city, Luke pauses once more to show us in detail the preparations for this entrance that pair joyful and sober moments, from the joyous acclaim of the crowd to Jesus weeping over the city that refuses to accept him.
Before the joy and weeping, Luke tells of the two disciples sent into the city to fetch the colt Jesus will ride. They know what kind of colt it is—one young enough to have never been ridden. They also know where to find the animal and what to say if they are asked why they are taking it. The scene develops exactly the way Jesus says it will.
That detail may seem incidental, but many theologians wonder how much Jesus knows about the way his mission will unfold. In the Gospels, Jesus speaks of his impending death in a way that suggests he knows exactly what will happen. Yet Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, where he asks for his cup to pass from him, makes us wonder whether Jesus feels there is more than one possible ending to the events that loom before him.
This passage invites us to consider how we can experience the story of Jesus’ passion, even knowing how it will turn out, while praying for insight through which the power of the gospel might come to us anew and deepen our discipleship.
Gracious God, open our spiritual imagination to find ourselves in these events of Jesus’ life during Holy Week. Strengthen us to be steadfast in following you with hearts that can be changed by the power of your living word. Amen.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Psalm 118 is a song of rejoicing, yet it also includes the prophecy that the cornerstone must experience rejection. Isaiah speaks of physical suffering, of being beaten, disgraced, and spat on. We see elements of this in the Gospel reading, where Luke describes the final moments of Jesus’ life. Bloodied and beaten, Jesus hangs on the cross and breathes his last. In Philippians, Paul places this drama within the eternal narrative of God’s redeeming work. Jesus leaves his rightful place and becomes flesh. He experiences pain and suffering, even the most humiliating form of death, crucifixion. Jesus can empathize with our suffering because he has suffered. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Read Isaiah 50:4-9a. How does the Suffering Servant speak to your life today?
Read Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29. How do you hear differently the familiar verses of this psalm when you read them together?
Read Philippians 2:5-11. Do you find it paradoxical to live as a beloved child of God and as a servant? If so, how do you live in this paradox?
Read Luke 19:28-40. How do you experience the extreme emotional highs and lows of Palm Sunday and Holy Week, even knowing how it will all turn out?
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