Excerpt from Pauses for Lent
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, Why are you doing this?’ just say this, The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

—Mark 11:1 – 11 NRSV

There will be moments in our lives as Jesus-followers when we need to take a stand. It might involve standing for faithfulness in our personal relationships, being honest in our business dealings, or acting with integrity in matters of morality. In the wider public arena, it could mean facing issues about inequality between the haves and the have-nots, race and gender inequality, or issues of violence and lack of justice. In these areas and countless others, we can discern what response will most express the greatest command and then act. 

This is what Jesus does that first Palm Sunday. He makes his decision to enter Jerusalem. He offers witness to God’s kingdom there in the Holy City. He enters the city in such a way that no one will be able to ignore him. He takes on the messianic role, the role foretold by the prophet Zechariah in the Old Testament. He arrives humbly and vulnerably, riding on a colt. This is how Jesus takes his stand, whatever the consequences. He knows that as he does this, he is not alone. 

When Jesus rides into Jerusalem amid the cheering crowds, he is saying in effect, I stand for God’s kingdom. Even if I am destroyed, I will be faithful to God and to myself.” Jesus can no longer condone the massive structures of evil that surround him. He knows he has to face the evil in the temple and the evil in the world, no matter what happens to him personally. If he does not, he will fail in his calling to be God’s Messiah for both Israel and the world. He takes the essential first step in his final action to save all humankind. 

Followers of Jesus seek to live their lives as he would. Often Lent is a good time for us to identify those things, both in ourselves and around us, that Jesus would like us to confront. Jesus decides that first Palm Sunday to take a stand for his deepest convictions. Will we do the same? We will need a combination of courage and faith. But we know that we are not on our own; God is with us.

Hudson, Trevor. Pauses for Lent: 40 Words for 40 Days. Upper Room Books. Kindle Edition. Used with permission.

Text First Published January 2015 · Last Featured on Renovare.org March 2024