Do you ever struggle to finish a task? Now granted, some tasks are unfinishable. Things that can’t be finished are laundry, house cleaning, the value of pi, explaining things to a toddler, and worrying about your children. Try as you might, you will never come to a place with any of those things and say, “Yay! Glad that’s over.”
We have made it to the last week of Lent. Palm Sunday is on the horizon. Next week is Holy Week, when we will take a journey with Jesus to the cross. Everything in his life has led up to this moment and the hour is almost upon him to finish what he started. I often wonder where the world would be if he had given up and walked away at any point in these last days of his life. Even his moment of hesitation in Gethsemane ended with him continuing his work until the end.
In today’s passage, we see the beginning of the end. We join Jesus and the disciples as they make their entrance into Jerusalem.
Mark 11 (Common English Bible)
When Jesus and his followers approached Jerusalem, they came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives. Jesus gave two disciples a task, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village over there. As soon as you enter it, you will find tied up there a colt that no one has ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘Its master needs it, and he will send it back right away.’”
The city was crowded with Jews from all over who had come to observe Passover. Mind you, Jesus and his friends had walked all the way there from Galilee, so it is interesting that he chooses to go the last two miles on a donkey. Do you suppose it had anything to do with the optics of that moment?
4 They went and found a colt tied to a gate outside on the street, and they untied it. 5 Some people standing around said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 They told them just what Jesus said, and they left them alone. 7 They brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes upon it, and he sat on it.
And so our King of Kings, the Lord of Lords chooses to ride in on the colt of a donkey. The visuals of that moment are profound. He probably had to hold his feet off the ground, given the smallness of the animal. And he deliberately chose a lowly beast of burden. Does this scene suggest that within a week’s time, he himself would become a beast of burden as he takes on the weight of the sins of the world?
8 Many people spread out their clothes on the road while others spread branches cut from the fields. 9 Those in front of him and those following were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessings on the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest!”
It is likely that some of the voices who hailed him as king, messiah, son of David, and healer were the same that shouted “CRUCIFY HIM” just a few days later. How fickle humanity is.
11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. After he looked around at everything, because it was already late in the evening, he returned to Bethany with the Twelve.
Today I invite you to contemplate the joy of this moment as the parade through Jerusalem began. This joy would eventually find its way to the empty cross and the empty tomb, praise be to God. But we all have to make our way through Good Friday before we arrive. May God grant us the same commitment that Jesus had on our behalf.