When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it.
We will look with more care at the significance of Jesus’ manner of entry into Jerusalem tomorrow. For now, it is enough to note that Jesus has planned this entry in advance. That’s why there is a colt tied up just inside the village entrance. That’s why those around know what is going on. Jesus made these arrangements ahead of time. This is nothing of the miraculous at work here; just good planning.
Why does this matter? So that we know that the events that are about to transpire are neither divine accident nor cosmic tragedy. Jesus goes to Jerusalem both on purpose and with a purpose. He is taking his mission to the center of his world, challenging the kingdoms that are – both political and religious – with a vision of the kingdom that will be and is, in fact, already coming.
It’s a kingdom where each member is honored not because of what they own or what they can do, but because of who they are – a child of God. It’s a kingdom where all are welcome, from diseased children to blind beggars. It’s a kingdom that is impossible to enter on your own, and yet where God welcomes all who admit their need and desire to come together. It’s a kingdom governed by love rather than power, that honors service over status, and that values equity over luxury.
It’s a kingdom so different than the kingdoms Jesus’ first-century contemporaries knew that many of them will be afraid of the radical, self-sacrificing love that governs it. And in their fear of being absolutely dependent on God’s grace and mercy – which, truth be told, is no different that the fear that governs the lives of twenty-first century self-made women and men – they will not only reject the message of this kingdom but put to death the messenger.
Which is why it’s important to recognize that Jesus has planned this entrance and the commencement of the final stage of his earthly mission with care. So that we might know that he does this, fully aware of the consequences, for us.
Did I say there is nothing miraculous at work? I was wrong. Such love, love made manifest in the care and deliberation with which Jesus planned his entrance to the holy city, is a miracle indeed.
Prayer: Dear God, remind us again and again of your love for us and all people that we might make bold to invite others into your kingdom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.