As Jesus rode along, they spread their clothes on the road. As Jesus approached the road leading down from the Mount of Olives, the whole throng of his disciples began rejoicing. They praised God with a loud voice because of all the mighty things they had seen. Luke 19:36-37 (CEB)
When I was growing up, the big thing in my small Midwestern town was to have a huge Fourth of July celebration, including a long parade. Sometimes, I was in it with the baton twirlers, Girl Scouts, or marching band, and other times, I sat on the sidelines and watched. It was fun each time, and we had a crowd made up of people from many neighboring towns. Actually, they still do the big celebration, although I think it may be toned down from when I was around.
This Sunday is Palm Sunday, when we remember Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey. For someone to ride into town on a donkey was a symbol of peace and goodwill. Apparently, Pontius Pilate had ridden through town on a great and mighty “stead” a few days earlier, and he was quite pompous, and he entered with a lot of brandishing of swords to show his superior status as the ruler of that area in the Roman Empire.
So, Jesus enters to shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David!” and “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” Yet, he enters peacefully and gently on a donkey. That would be the most peaceful part of the week that followed. He knew that entering in this way would continue to incite the religious leaders who wanted him to be arrested and out of their realm.
What was the purpose of the parade, anyway? We may never know, but we DO know that Jesus seemed to want his presence known in Jerusalem. In the gospel of Luke, he went on to tell many parables about the Kingdom of God and tried to prepare his disciples for his inevitable death on the cross. He cleansed the temple, once again offending the religious leaders, many who received financial kick-backs from the sales of the sacrificial animals.
Holy Week was not a quiet week for them, and it ended, of course, in Jesus arrest, crucifixion and death. This parade almost seemed to be his “last hurrah” and a way of getting attention. Jesus knew what was coming, and he knew that it was the appointed time for him.
As we journey through this Holy Week with Jesus, may we follow his path through it all: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Only then can we truly begin to understand what he endured as he died for our sins and reconciled us to God. My suggestion would be to read the gospel of Luke each day. Below is a suggested pattern:
- Sunday – Luke 19:28-48
- Monday – Luke 20:1-47
- Tuesday – Luke 21:1-38
- Wednesday – Luke 22:1-38
- Thursday – Luke 22:39-62
- Friday – Luke 22:63-71; 23:1-25
- Saturday – Luke 22:26-56
- Sunday – Luke 24:1-53
Consider taking a few minutes to really ponder what you have read and think about what Jesus did for all of us – for the world. What are your reactions? How did you feel? In what ways did you recognize yourself through the disciples? The crowd? The religious leaders? How will you now celebrate the magnificent message of Easter?
May you have a blessed journey with Jesus this coming week!