Sharp About Your Prayers

the challenges, absurdities, and joys of an urban faith

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Ticket to Ride

April 10th, 2014 · No Comments · Faith and the City

When Jesus traveled around the ancient world, he did so on foot. He walked from village to village, from plateau to lakeside, from Galilee to Jerusalem.

In all of his travels, Jesus walked.

Right up, until Palm Sunday. On Palm Sunday, the gospels tell us, Jesus rode. What led Jesus to cash in his miles and upgrade for this leg of his trip?

Maybe he wanted to make a grand entrance. Maybe he finally embraced the hopes of the crowds. Maybe he intended to enter the city like a king—like a Messiah—like the old prophet Zechariah had promised:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
   
Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!

Lo, your king comes to you;
   
triumphant and victorious is he,

humble and riding on a donkey,
   
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.    (Zechariah 9:9)
 

Palm SundayRejoice. Shout aloud. Jesus is riding into Jerusalem, although his “ride” isn’t much of an upgrade over walking. His steed is a donkey!? Conquering heroes don’t ride donkeys. Kings don’t ride donkeys—not real ones, not powerful ones who can make a difference. Is this a joke? This dude has no chance at leading a rebellion against Rome. Slowly, the people stop stripping psalms from nearby trees and start asking each other questions: “What kind of Messiah is this?”

According to Matthew, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?”

This Sunday we will join the citizens of ancient Jerusalem. We will wave greenery in the air. We will sing triumphant songs. We will start the journey of Holy Week by studying the donkey and his rider.

We will cry out from the simultaneously hopeful and skeptical places inside of us: “Who is this?”

See you in worship,

SBJ

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