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: