Who is this?” This question seems to be on everyone’s lips
as Jesus processes into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey.
Is this the question on the minds of the two disciples whom
Jesus sends to the next village for a donkey and a colt? Could
they perhaps have been aware that, according to Zechariah 14:4,
the Mount of Olives is the place where God will defeat Israel’s
enemies and inaugurate a new creation? And might they have
understood the significance of the donkey ride into Jerusalem?
Jesus has walked thus far on foot. Why now, so near to Jerusalem,
does he request a donkey? Would the two disciples have
understood the messianic prophetic symbolism of this request
and quietly asked themselves, ”Who is this?”
The crowds that welcome Jesus triumphantly, waving
palm branches and laying out their cloaks on the road, would
also have engaged the question, ”Who is this?” Did they really
understand what they shouted as Jesus passed by? Were they
aware that the word hosanna, although it had become an exclamation
of praise, literally meant “save”? And what would or
should that salvation look like? Their cries of ”Crucify him!” just
a few days later suggest that their understanding of Jesus and
his salvific work is seemingly incomplete.
When Jesus enters Jerusalem the whole city stirs and asks,
”Who is this?” His presence in the world today can effect the
same response. Where the body of Christ faithfully exhibits
and reflects the unfailing love of God today, people still want
to know, ”Who is this?” May we be ever willing and able to
answer with the words of our text, ”This is . . . Jesus.”
Stir my heart, O God, and grant me the humility, love, and courage to be your witness today. Amen.
These texts raise questions about who truly welcomes Jesus and under what circumstances. Isaiah 50 recalls the hostility that inevitably follows servanthood. A moment of acceptance, even welcome, will not hide from the servant the fact of the rejection to come. Psalm 118 claims that the city and the victory and the “one who comes” all belong to God. Any victory declared by human beings is bound to vanish as quickly as the day itself. The Philippians hymn asserts Jesus’ own determination to be obedient even to death and God’s conse- quent exaltation of Jesus above all creation. Even in the Gospel accounts, Jesus’ entry is one of meekness and humility rather than of power and pride.
• Read Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29. How do you rejoice in “the day that the LORD has made”?
• Read Isaiah 50:4-9a. The writer notes that for Isaiah, suffer- ing does not signal divine indifference but plays a part in the world’s bigger story. When have you interpreted your suffering as part of a bigger story?
• Read Philippians 2:5-11. What earthly traits of Jesus’ are evident in your daily living? Do you see yourself living a countercultural lifestyle?
• Read Matthew 21:1-11. Where are you in the Palm Sunday story? How do you respond to Jesus as he enters?
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