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The Beginning of Holy Week

To mark the start of the week, Jesus sent two of His disciples to find a donkey on which no one has ever sat. The two found the young colt just as Jesus said they would. This was fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout in triumph, Daughter Jerusalem! Look, your King is coming to you; He is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey.” 

We know the rest of the story, right? Maybe.

After His disciples place their robes atop the colt, Jesus climbs on, slowly riding down the Mount of Olives, while His disciples and crowds of people lay their robes and palm branches ahead of Him for the donkey to walk upon. As He moves along, the crowd yells, “The King who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven.” (Luke 19:38) “Hosanna to the Son of David! He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One. Hosanna in the highest heaven.” (Matthew 21:9b).

He couldn’t do anything without the religious leaders nearby, so it’s no surprise they were present for His triumphal entry. “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples,” they said. “I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stones would cry out,” Jesus answered. (Luke 19:39-40) This is the first part of the story I think some read over without stopping to think of what that actually means. He said, “the stones would cry out.” To me that means the world would know His true identity in that moment without a single human voice, even if the world itself had to groan. This marks the day Jesus’ Identity was fully known: whether we took place in unveiling that or not, It was going to be spoken.

“As He approached and saw the city [Jerusalem], He wept over it.” (Luke 19:41) The word ‘wept’ in that sentence is the strongest form of outcry, meaning He didn’t just sit on the donkey and shed a few tears––He wailed and rang out true agony over the city saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace –– but now it is hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:42) He then prophesied that not one stone would be left on another and that they would be crushed by their enemies, which happened forty years later.

What I often miss when I read this beautiful scene is the demeanor of our King. He rides on a colt in complete humility down the mountain. He’s not coming in on a Clydesdale, wielding a sword, wearing golden armor, while trumpets and harps demand the attention of everyone in the vicinity to profess His Identity. While that approach befits our King, that wasn’t His style. He deserved the world at His feet for what He was about to do, but He chose this way. We have to ask why…and the answer, in my opinion, shows the heart of Christ. 

His action allows our choice. He didn’t ride in commanding everyone’s attention. Instead, He slowly came down the mountain, without great pomp or fan fair, in utter humility...for us to choose Him. Yes, He had crowds of people cheering and laying their robes and palms branches along His trail, but not by His command…they chose to be there. 

Nobody but He and God (and maybe all of heaven) knew what would happen six days later. Imagine His emotion knowing that all the people shouting His praise would turn and demand His death in six days’ time. Of course He knew, He knows everything, but He didn’t excuse those individuals or cringe at their praises. Nope. Not our King. He rode down, looking at each face, hearing every syllable coming off their lips, and kept His eye on the will of God, just like He does for all of us. Praise Jesus!

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