21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Observation: When we read this story in Sunday school, coloring pages in hand, we tend to see this as a cute story of a messiah and a donkey. A story of people waving leaves and laying down coats. A story of a messiah being welcomed to the capital by the people who follow him. However, this is not a cute story, and Jesus is not an innocent bystander; caught unaware by an adoring crowd. This is a deeply political story and involves a messiah making a declaration. Jesus, as He rides in on this donkey, is making a declaration that He was the promised Messiah. The one who would make all things right.
This Messiah, though was not as the Jews had expected. Instead of a conquering king, they watched a suffering servant. Instead of a powerful lion, they were witnessing a slaughtered lamb, and they hated Him for it. It doesn’t take long for the crowd to turn on Jesus. Their cries of, “hosanna” transforming into shrill calls to “crucify him.”
Action: We all want that conquering King. That violent revolutionary who will destroy our foes (whoever our personal foes might be). We’re often disappointed to learn that our Messiah chose to lay down His life for His enemies rather than destroy them, and we’re far less excited when we learn Jesus calls us to do the same. During this Lenten season of reflection, we are called to ask ourselves a simple yet difficult question; do we resemble our Messiah? Is our life patterned after Him? Or have we simply been content learning about this Messiah without putting that into information into action? Is our life good news to the poor? Is our message redemption to be broken? Or is it simply another way to exact our power over the other? Our Messiah has arrived; will we choose to follow Him?