28 Mar 2015

Holy Week 1: Jesus enters Jerusalem

Thousands throng the walkways, paths and trails even as more keep arriving. It is the high point of all Jewish life: the Feast. All good Jews would make an effort to travel to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast. It is going to be eight heady days of busyness and business as Jews prepare to meet the requirements of the Law and the rules set down by the rabbinic tradition over the centuries in order to observe the Passover.

Jesus chose to enter Jerusalem at this time. He is aware that his final moments and the great cataclysmic purpose of his life is about to unfold. It won't be his first visit to Jerusalem; but he must now fully assert his identity and complete his mission.

This final week sees Jesus reveal God's heart in his actions, his teaching and his responses to his enemies.

actions ~
the ride
Historically, the Roman overlords love to use this Feast season to remind the Jews of their power. Often the Roman governor of Judea would ride up to Jerusalem from his coastal residence in the west because right at this time, the population will swell  from its usual 50,000 to at least 200,000! An opportune time to impress and suppress the crowds!
The governor would come in all of his imperial majesty to remind the Jewish pilgrims that Rome was in charge. It would be a "..visual panoply of imperial power: cavalry on horses, foot solders, leather armor, helmets, weapons, banners, golden eagles mounted on poles, sun glinting on metal and gold", with sounds to match: "the marching of feet, the creaking of leather, the clinking of bridles, the beating of drums.  The swirling of dust.  The eyes of the silent onlookers, some curious, some awed, some resentful."
This is the usual mood.

Jesus chooses to ride into Jerusalem too. The Gospel accounts tell us that it wasn't just Jesus' intent. It was also the longing and hope of the people - for they have heard of his miracles, especially the raising of Lazarus - and now, they are gathering....as one people; what a better time to unite and defeat the Romans! So the people came bearing branches and shouting, "Hosanna, blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!"
Immediately, Jesus' actions stir consternation and questions. Those who faithfully read their Scriptures may recall the prophet Zecahriah's words that the king would ride on a donkey. Yet, compared to the noise and pomp of the Roman ruler, this would be so ... weak. Surely, Jesus would quickly surprise everyone and show forth the great powers of God Almighty as God did when he parted the Red Sea for Moses and the rag tag Israelites scared-to-death as the loud poundng calvary of Pharaoh drew near....
We are pretty much the same. Faced with any situation we cannot bear, all we want is for the Saviour to come and save us with a wondrous act of deliverance; all the better if it is a mighty observable miracle to give us a solid-gold testimony of precise, definite victory!
the temple clean-out
Instead, Jesus enters the temple and cleans his own people out!
Come on, surely God can cut us some slack? We are the ones suffering. The bad guys are out there God! Why pick on us, fixate on our details... we are just trying to obey you, make things work out...be faithful...
But Jesus chases to the heart and the mild donkey-riding king is suddenly wielding whip and lashing out that we have betrayed God's intent. Ouch.
Honestly, by this time, I feel that the crowd's sentiments would begin to shift. 
Isn't it the same for us? Our faith shifts too as our expectations go unmet...

actions, teaching, and the way he responds to his disciples and his enemies
 are like mirrors that can reveal what is upon our hearts too. As we read on carefully this week and consider the final week of Jesus' life, may we enter into the experience and emerge changed.
Please read along slowly this week. You can read one Gospel for 2 days or read them as parallels according to the events:
Matthew 26-28
Mark 11-16
Luke 19v29 - 24
John 12v12- 21

note: as the Gospels were written to inspire faith, they do not include all the time-date details. This has caused some concern and many different scholars have endeavored to find the exact dates/times using the Jewish and Roman calendars. I do not personally think that knowing these details will make a real difference to our faith. It is important to be sure that Jesus was a historical figure and that we trust the accounts in the Bible as actual. Beyond that, we can choose tradition or scholarship to help us in our journey of faith, as long as it doesn't lead us into heresy! Personally, I find observing the Holy Week powerful for my faith experience; so I share some of my observations and reflections here. May it brighten your minds and strengthen your hearts!

For a simple background to the Holy Week: 
Lutheran Church on Holy Week

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and heart here, and helping to to build a real, faith-full community together!