Holy Week 2022: Palm Sunday

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Matthew 21:1–11

Jesus, riding a donkey, starts his final week with a bang! A murmur grows into shouts that make the city feel alive, as if the rocks are joining the chorus. Cloaks fly off shoulders and are thrown to the ground, out of submission (see 2 Kings 9:13). Palm branches wave through the air, symbols of Jewish nationalism and victory to those weighed down by a century of Roman oppression. Their cries pregnant with hope for the promised king from David’s line (see 2 Sam 7:12-16).

“Who is this?” the people in the city ask. “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” Here is the guy that people had been talking about! Would they get to see a miracle? Would he try to overthrow Rome? The one they had heard about was now among them. The distance had been bridged. People could now see for themselves who this Jesus was because he was in their midst..

They were in for a surprise, though. Jesus didn’t come to perform miracles for the crowd. Jesus didn’t enter the gates to seize political power. Jesus set foot in Jerusalem to die. The crown he would receive was thick with thorns, not jewels. His victory would come through a cross, not an army, and was over Sin and death, not Rome. He did this for them, for you, for me. That is the king that deserves our praise and submission. Behold that king! As you read through these passages and reflections this week, I encourage you to not keep Jesus at a distance. Your king wants to be present in your life. Praise him for his glory. Submit your life to that goodness. Meet his presence this week and he will change your life.

Questions for Reflection

  1. How can you receive and respond to who Jesus reveals himself to be, rather than a Jesus of your own making?
  2. Jesus asked two disciples to do the mundane task of retrieving a donkey and her colt. Yet they were a key piece to his triumphal entry. Where is God in the mundane events in your life?
  3. How would you respond to someone who asked you “Who is this Jesus?”