Readings: Mark 11:1-11
Today we are gathered around the moment of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. And what a parade it was. Jesus was hailed as a hero as he entered the streets. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” they shouted. And “Hosanna!” or “save us.”
At least some of the people thought Jesus had come to reestablish Israel.
“Free Israel, make Israel great again!”
They welcomed their Messiah, their Christ, with shouts of acclamation.
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the Highest!”
The people expected a savior, a triumphant king. And Jesus clearly had the support of this crowd. Jesus could have raised an army, aided by the host of heaven, and established God’s perfect kingdom through the annihilation of Rome and any other forces that would defy God and God’s people.
But this king came laying down his life. God in the flesh did not go to war against our hate, but met it only with forgiveness and love, he absorbed it himself.
And it killed him.
Against our violence, the king of Israel—the king of the universe—did not take up arms. God looks on us, all of us, with steadfast love and mercy, and shows us a way that leads to life: even from death.
So, the triumphant king came, not to wage war against our evil, but to expose it—absorb it, and even to forgive it.
He came not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:17).
Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, as the crowd surely supposed, was indeed a foreshadowing of the victory Jesus would obtain for their sake. The result, however, is not one great nation or another; not even a perfect people or perfect society. Christ’s victory is God’s prevailing relationship with us, even when we will have none of it.
Nothing can separate us from the mercy and love of God, not even God’s death on a cross.
No tomb will contain it.
Are there yet things from which we need the salvation of God?
Illness and famine. Our own hate and intolerance toward one another. Our own ways of selfishness and greed. Our propensity to forget the blessings we have from God and to extend blessing and love to all people around us.
Yes. There are yet things for which we still cry “Hosanna, save us!”
And in that, the triumphal Jesus, who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, into a parade with the streets lined with coats, palms, and shouts of acclamation, stays with us.
He shows us his way—a way in which death is what leads to life. Humility leads to exaltation. The hungry are fed, while the rich are sent away.
The way of the cross.
We look to Jesus, who shows us the way of love for God and one another. We look to Jesus who offers forgiveness and mercy when we forget his way for us. And we ask for his salvation in a world still governed by violence and greed, hunger and illness, reminding ourselves that “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the Highest!”