By Rev. Ray E. Atwood Sacred Heart Parish, La Porte City
The Entrance into Jerusalem
It was the month of Nisan. The Book of Exodus (chapter 12) ordered that in this sacred month, the Paschal Lamb was to be selected and four days later was to be taken to the place where it would be sacrificed. On Palm Sunday, the Lamb was chosen by popular acclaim in Jerusalem; on Good Friday, He was sacrificed.
Our Lord’s last Sabbath was spent in Bethany with Lazarus, Martha, and Mary (John 11). News now circulated that He was coming into Jerusalem. In preparation for His entrance, He sent two disciples into the village, where they would find a colt tethered on which no one had ridden. They were to untie it and bring it to Him. Herein lies the greatest paradox on earth – the Son of God, almighty, all powerful, and all knowing, “needs” something. This combination of Divinity and dependence, of possession and poverty was a result of the Word becoming Flesh. Jesus, who was rich, became poor so we might become rich. For example, He borrowed a boat from a fisherman in order to preach; He borrowed barley loaves and fishes from a boy to feed a multitude; He borrowed a grave from which He would rise; and now He borrows a colt on which to enter Jerusalem. Sometimes God requisitions things from us, as if to remind us that everything is a gift from Him. He uses the colt and other things to save our souls.
As He approached the city on this humble animal, a “great multitude” came out to meet Him; among them were Pharisees and Roman authorities. The people’s acclamation was another acknowledgement of Our Lord’s divinity. Many took off their garments and spread them before Him on the way; others cut off palm branches (which signify victory) and laid them on the road. The mobs who shouted “Hosanna!” on Palm Sunday were the same ones who would shout “Crucify Him!” one week later.
We see these two dynamics at work in Holy Week: the all-holy God borrows certain items to achieve His purpose, namely, our salvation. God can be relied on to achieve His purpose. On the other hand, we see the fickleness of men, who cheer Christ one day and condemn Him the next. Our Lord’s reception depends on the openness of human hearts to His Word.
As Holy Week begins, may we reflect on the way God uses things for His purposes, and on our changing attitudes toward Him as His purpose unfolds.