Riding a beast of burden instead of a war horse, showing that the greatest honor lies in service, not conquest.


For Palm Sunday, Adam and Lindsey discuss Matthew 21:1-11. “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Palm Sunday: Jesus’s triumphal entrance into Jerusalem! Crowds spill out into the streets to greet their king, waving palm branches, bumping into one another, probably jockeying to get a better view. Hosannas ring out joyfully as the crowd gathers and people and branches and noise fills the air and…

Maybe this year, not so much.

It’s a strange Palm Sunday indeed when the world is shut indoors. But as we consider the crowds that thronged to Jesus, hailing him as a king and following his processional, we can remember the world just a few weeks ago. The streets were packed and we couldn’t foresee the sudden, dramatic change about to befall us.

If the last week of Jesus’s life could be broken up into a 3-act play, the acts could be called “Hope,” “Fear,” and “Love.” Palm Sunday is hope. The atmosphere is percolating with anticipation; the people are ready – hungry for change, thirsty for liberation.

And Jesus comes riding out – noble, glorious and… humble? He’s mounted on the foal of a donkey. He’d probably be taller if he were walking.

But he’s subverting all understanding of what it means to be a king. Riding a beast of burden instead of a war horse, showing that the greatest honor lies in service, not conquest. And he will lead the people to liberation not through battle, but through opening their hearts to self-giving love.

There is an ominous feeling in the air even in the midst of hope. The end of the passage says the city was in turmoil. Expectation can easily turn to disappointment, and hope can be swallowed up in fear in times of upheaval.

Soon the people will turn against Jesus and then disperse. The crowded streets will be empty. It feels like that now… the time in-between the hope of Palm Sunday and the triumph of resurrection. As we wait, let’s consider the world as it is. How do we understand power and wealth and freedom, and what images do we see in our mind’s eye of success and prosperity? How is Jesus turning it all upside-down?

The Olive

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