Throughout Advent, we posted blogs each week based on the Lectionary Readings for the previous Sunday. It was truly an awesome experience to travel through Advent with the universal church by praying, meditating, and responding to those texts. We loved it so much, we thought we’d do it again throughout Lent.
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethpage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of this disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ tell them, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.'”
They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and thew their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest!”
Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everthing, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
— Mark 11:1-11 (NIV)
Our Lenten journey is drawing to a close. Jesus has come to Jerusalem–that place that he had resolutely set out for (Luke 9:51). He has entered the city.
Through a back gate on a donkey.
Place yourself, for a moment, into the sandels of those who had followed Jesus on this journey. For three years, they have listened to parables, seen the hungry feed, seen the blind given sight, seen the deaf made able to hear, and have even seen the dead raised. And, now, the Messiah–the Rescuer–is ready to enter Jerusalem.
Messiah has come to overthrow the kingdom occupying our land–the land we were promised and told to posses.
And he’s asking for a donkey to ride.
In those days, the king would ride into the city on a horse. He would ride through the main gate of the city. People would proclaim his kingship as he rode.
As one of those who had followed, you have to be thinking that this is it. Jesus is subverting the Roman king, by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and coming in through the back door. Smart. Sneaking in under the radar, but illustrating to everyone around that He is the King.
Yet, even though Jesus has spent three years teaching us about His Kingdom.
That wholly and holy other than Kingdom.
That “where what God wants done is done” (Dallas Willard) Kingdom.
That now but not yet Kingdom.
They still didn’t get it. They’re ready for war. Bring on the guards, we’ll take them! The King is here with us–on a donkey.
As Jesus turned to leave the Temple that night, these Disciples had to be thinking, “Ok, this was just a survey trip. Show the people that the true King has come, look at what we’re up against, and then tomorrow we attack.”
Yet, on the morrow, there was no attack. There was a withered fig tree and a cleansing of the temple. But, no war. No bringing in the Kingdom.
Because the Kingdom of Heaven doesn’t come by force.
It comes when God’s people are doing God’s work with God’s grace and God’s power.
It comes when God’s people humble themselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from their evil ways (2 Chronicles 7:14).
It comes when we say “not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36).
As we journey through this final week of Lent. This week of Passion. Let us not forget that Jesus didn’t come to rescue Israel from the Romans.
Rather, He came to Rescue us from the Kingdom of Darkness.
He came to make sons and daughters out of orphans.
He came that we “may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” (John 10:10 (AMP))