Holy Week: Meditation 1

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away. (Matt 21:1-3, NIV)”

I wonder what the disciples felt as they approached Jerusalem? The Gospel of Mark tells us that they were coming from the direction of Jericho (to the east of Jerusalem) and as they approached Jerusalem they had to cross the last hill before seeing Jerusalem. They wouldn’t have seen it from the distance. It wasn’t until they passed Bethphage that they would have seen it.

Close up across the Kidron Valley.

What was it like nearing the end of a long journey?

They had seen so many things in the past few years with Jesus. Did it comfort them or worry them? I suppose that I think it must have comforted them. They thought that Jesus knew what he was doing. That he was in charge.

But, of course, the question was – in charge to do what?

Now we comfort ourselves because we know how the story ends. We see their misunderstanding and we know that this false start will result in them running. But we also know that its “finale” sees a greater hope than a religio-political Messiah. But what this means is that we all too easily tame the story. To comfort us; because we like stories with happy endings.

But for them.

What do you think that they thought?

Surely, it was that Jesus was going to announce in Jerusalem that he was the Messiah and usher in the new age when Israel would once again be free.

Surely, that was what this was all leading up to?

But always there is a worrying undercurrent.

Whenever Jesus is involved there is always an undercurrent, something on the edge of the vision, something more going on than seems to be going on.

Jesus tells them about a donkey and its colt that they will find in the village ahead and what words to say. Of course, we might see this as some miraculous sign that Jesus knows everything. But surely this is Jesus work. He has already arranged it. He has set the password.

But if Jesus is about to overthrow the regime and bring freedom, why the secrecy? Why the password?

Isn’t the same true for us today?

We want certainty. We want victory. We want the triumphal procession. The glad thanks of those around us.

Instead, we get whispers, false trails, hopes up.
But it still feels like we are moving through a fog with sometimes a partial lifting.
The odd glimpse ahead.
The odd sight of what is to come.

And when he sees the city ahead. The Temple Mount. The walls surrounding the city. What does he do?

As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it

What sort of Messiah is this?

Didn’t this disturb them? Didn’t this worry them? What sort of Messiah weeps when you are about to “win”?

When we walk with Jesus maybe we need to be more careful. Maybe we need to be a little more humble in thinking we know how our own story and the story around us will happen.

Oswald Chambers once wrote:

“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.”

Maybe that was enough at the end of the day for the disciples. Maybe although they thought they knew where they were going actually far more importantly they knew the One who was leading them.

So that although they scatter in their time of trial. Still they come back. To a deeper and richer understanding of the One they follow.

Other Holy Week Meditations:

Holy Week: Meditation 2

Holy Week: Meditation 3

Holy Week: Meditation 4

Holy Week: Meditation 5

Good Friday Holy Week: Meditation 6

Holy Week Holy Saturday: Meditation 7

Holy Week 2012 Meditation series


7 comments on “Holy Week: Meditation 1

  1. Steve
    April 17, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Hi Will,

    Nice article. Let’s see how the story ends.

    We think we know, because we’ve read the book, but each time it brings a new interpretation.

    Much love.

  2. Jean
    April 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    Thanks Will, just what I need to steer me towards Easter. I was disappointed to think that the whole donkey thing wasn’t a miracle but the Bible and its interpretation always surprises!
    I will place my trust in the One who leads. He’ll give me the lowdown on the transport arrangements if ever I really need to know.
    Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to these daily reflections. Thanks.

  3. Will Cookson
    April 17, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

    Pleased you both liked it.

    I’ve set it up so that (hopefully) each one will be published at 6am UK time each day (I presume that’s 3am your time Steve?)

  4. Peter Smedley
    April 17, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

    Enjoyed the meditation. On the business of whether the donkey organisation was a miracle or pre arranged it surely could be either. It’s possible, for instance, that the ‘owner’ could have had a compelling dream that someone was going to ask for it on behalf of Jesus.

  5. Will Cookson
    April 17, 2011 at 8:51 pm #


    On the donkey, It could have happened like that. It was Richard Wurmbrand who introduced the idea to me years ago. He wrote how in Communist Roumania it was common practise to use passwords and he saw this in this story and how it made sense in a community where the authorities are after you. I suppose that the Wurmbrand reading makes more sense and for me is a richer meaning. But I may be wrong!

  6. Esther Somerson
    April 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    Is it all about tension and build up – that we are impatient, busy, not stopping to rest and wait on Him and what He has to show us in His time not ours?
    Are we in danger of being de-sensitised because we celebrate and reflect and listen year on year?
    I liked the comment about needing to be more humble and thinking people know their narratives and the narrative around them. It gets easier in ‘mid life’ but also young people who have been through many trials – you have the benefit of hindsight and saying to God ‘ I can see now how you worked in that situation in my / our lives and brought me through it with a new understanding of myself and others to move on.’ Life on earth can be an interesting tapestry with a Great Weaver at the helm. To look back in humility at the blessings and wonders He showers upon us is indeed a great gift.


  1. Walking in Darkness— Reflections on Holy Saturday « SALT Magazine - April 23, 2011

    […] PS Will has done a series of Easter meditations on his blog – Holy Week: Meditation 1 […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s