Jesus' Jerusalem Journey

Our scriptural passages that account for what we commonly call, “Palm Sunday”, are all, interestingly, headlined in our Bibles as, “The Triumphal Entry” (Mt 21:1; Mk 11:1; Luke 19:28; Jn 12:12). I say “interestingly”, because, in truth, if anyone knew how to host a real triumph, and make a grand entrance, it was Rome, with its lavish, elaborate, extravagant, and entertaining propaganda spectacles! Chariots, war horses, battle bows! These moments were one of the most impressive sights that any citizen would ever witness in their lifetime! The historian, Orosius, records that there were 320 Roman Triumphs up and into the 1st century AD.

So, into that climate, “Behold, your king is coming to you” (Hip!), “righteous” (Hip!), “having salvation” (Hooray!) ... “humble” (OK?) ... “mounted on a donkey (Ooh!) What? No chariot? No warhorse? No trumpets? A “triumphal entry”? Im not too sure. Poignantly prophetic? Yes; but, pompous? Definitely not! If anything, we could consider this account of Jesus as more of a paradoxical exhibit, a more concealed (Lk 19:42b), rather than revealed moment; humility, rather than hubris. I think a fair hermeneutic is critical in understanding why this account is in our bibles; and, indeed, not just in our bibles, but in all four of the gospels! It’s like a “4-chairs” turn on “The Voice”!

This “Jerusalem Journey” is a long and winding river that flows from Luke 9:51, descending into the “table-turning” drama of Luke 19:46. A number of ‘streams’ bump into Christ’s flow along the way, and cause a lot of turbulence. It’s not a straight line from A to B by any means. But Jesus remains firm, with an unshakeable resolve to “set his face like a flint” for Jerusalem (Is 50:7) Why? What’s his purpose? Was it to fulfil Zech 9:9? Definitely. Matthew says so. And Zech 9:10 continues by saying, “I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.” Perhaps that’s why Jesus comes in on a donkey, and not a war horse.

Jesus is on a “peace mission” to Jerusalem - the “city of peace”, but first he must dismantle all the pomp that gets in the way of true peace and true praise. In the dramatic pathos of what must be one of Christ’s most sorrowful moments, Luke tells us that He wails over the city - sobs - weeps - offering every external expression of grief - saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! ... but you did not know the time of your visitation!”

• Do we know the things that make for peace? (Think ‘propitiation’ - Throne of Grace)
• Do we know the time of our visitation? (Think ‘preaching’ - Gospel of Grace)

Those are the two questions, that moved Christ to a pre-Gethsemane passion, that we are obligated to answer on Palm Sunday, as we look at the prophetic significance of this moment.

To our ‘Prince of Peace’, who entered this world with his mom on a donkey, accoladed by angels, singing, “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and goodwill towards men”, to our ‘King of Peace’, who begins to exit this world on a donkey, accoladed by children, singing, “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” For all the glory that must be yours, SAVE US NOW, O, YOU WHO ARE IN HEAVEN! 

See you Sunday, worshipping the King of Peace, Martin

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