Let the words my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen
This week is commonly called Holy Week. Today, if you notice on the front of your worship folders, is called Sunday of the Passion, Palm Sunday, and/or the Last Sunday of Lent. Also, if you look at the front of your worship folder, you will find that we’re in year B of the Common Lectionary Series. Year B predominately uses the Gospel of Mark with a good bit of John’s gospel mixed in. Last year was year A that is mostly Matthew, and next year, Year C will be mostly Luke.
John Mark’s gospel is short and to the point. He does not elaborate. He makes a point and moves on. In today’s gospel reading, for example, he says the curtain of the temple was torn into, from top to bottom. And the next sentence is about the centurion. Well, what about the curtain? The tearing of the curtain indicated Christ had entered heaven itself for us so that we too may enter God’s presence. What Mark does, however, is make an excellent job of telling us what happens each day of Holy Week.
Jesus had made the trip to Jerusalem. He had passed through Jericho where he had given sight to a blind man, Bartimaeus, and dined with Zacchaeus. On Friday, he had spent time with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, who he had raised from the dead. On Saturday, the Sabbath, he spent the time as usual, probably at the synagogue and with his friends.
This was obviously not his first trip to Jerusalem, and, in fact, he had friends living in and around the city. And from the best calculations of New Testament scholars, it was April 2, 30 CE, and Jesus arrives at the entrance to Jerusalem for the last time.
But this entrance was different. He came in riding a colt, or donkey as Mark describes it. There was a crowd of people, some throwing their cloaks on the road in front of him and others waving branches. It began several miles up the road before they got to the gate and even Kidron Valley. It was a parade! And they were singing, or shouting:
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Hosanna meaning save, now.
We don’t know how long the parade lasted but from the Eastern Gate, or Golden Gate, the temple was only 300 yards or so from the gate. But they may have not taken the most direct route.
Mark tells us that he went to the temple courts, looked around at everything, and since it was already late, went back to Bethany with the Twelve. And that’s how the first day of Holy Week ended.
Jesus had come to Jerusalem. His disciples were certainly against it. They had heard what Jesus said about him being killed; they had heard the rumors from the Pharisees about how he was going to be arrested when he got to Jerusalem. But when he entered just the same with the crowds cheering him on. They expected Jesus to bring about the kingdom of God at once—that being his earthly kingdom, where all the political and military enemies would be immediately defeated and his reign would last forever.
But Jesus rode in on a colt, or donkey. Kings rode horses when they went into battle; they road donkeys when they came in peace.
So, here was the Son of God, riding into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover feast, riding a donkey. The Son of God descended down to earth in a little spot on the eastern Mediterranean Sea. He became human, like one of us. He was tempted out in the wilderness where it was dry, no water and no food; but he was obedient to his Father. He was so obedient that he gave his life for us—death by means of crucifixion.
Jesus did not come to attract status and glory, but to preach and teach that his Father was a loving and compassionate God—a God full of grace and forgiveness. So we, too, should not seek glory, but follow Jesus’ example of service to our neighbor.
Again, this is Holy Week. We follow Jesus from his triumphant entrance until his death on Friday. We discover to what lengths he went to save our miserable souls. We dis-cover how God came down to us in order that we might kill him.
We discover that after his horrible death that a tomb couldn’t keep him. We discover that he was raised from the dead on that glorious Sunday morning.