I’m a life-long sports fan. Over the course of my life, I’ve seen a few of my favorite teams win championships in their respective leagues. One thing I’ve never experienced is a championship parade. That is where the winning team returns victorious to their hometown and are cheered on by throngs of fans as they parade through the heart of their city on special vehicles (fire trucks, fancy convertibles, busses, even the famous Boston “Duck Boats”. Millions of fans come waving flags, taking pictures and rallying around their conquering champions to celebrate the victory.
This is Holy Week, remembering the final week of Jesus’ life on earth and the completion of His earthly plan to defeat death and offer grace and forgiveness to the world. It was a little like a Championship Parade. The difference is the people were cheering Jesus for what they expected He would do. They were in for a surprise.
The story can be found in Luke chapter 19.29 and following. Jesus sends two disciples to find a donkey colt and bring it back to Him. He gets on the colt and rides into Jerusalem with much fanfare as the crowd covers the ground with clothes and grab palm branches to cheer on their long awaited Messiah. Zechariah has prophesied that the Messiah would enter Zion (Jerusalem) on the colt of a donkey (Zach 9.9). They may have known this prophecy well, but it was still a strange sight for their coming King to be on a donkey as a donkey is a symbol of peace and the people wanted a warrior to free them from Roman oppression. But they believed that Jesus was their King and would establish His kingdom then and there.
He did establish a Kingdom that week, but it didn’t match their expectation. They didn’t understand what He was really doing. They thought it would be joyful celebration of victory and freedom, but the cheers turned to calls for His execution, all in the same week.
And so begins Holy Week. The week that would change history forever.
Here are some points to ponder from the Triumphal Entry.
1 – Surprising –
Jesus arrived as the promised Messiah. However the people didn’t understand what His plan was. They wanted a warrior to defeat their earthly enemies and make their earthly life better, Jesus came to defeat their one true enemy – Satan, and offer the best eternal lifeto those who believe in Him.
2- Setting Our Expectations
Today, we want to believe that God will take away the hard things that this life brings. And while He may remove some things, and empower us supernaturally to deal with others, He definitely does not promise to keep us free from pain or heartache. He says the opposite many times (come to me you are weary (Matthew 11.28) in this world you will have trouble…(John 16.33); blessed are you when people despise you…(Luke 6.22) for example). He doesn’t really tell us that we won’t face more than we can handle because so often, the hard things that happen are more than we can deal with on our own. But we are not on our own. In Philippians 4.13 we read that we can do “all things through Christ who gives me strength” including facing hard things. His strength is what carries us.
3 – He Comes in Peace
Jesus came on a donkey colt – a symbol of peace. He was ready to battle His enemy, but and in doing so, He brought peace to humanity. He offered Himself so the penalty of death could be overcome and peaceful reconciliation could be made between a perfect God and His imperfect creation. He died and rose again so that “whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life” (John 3.16) He did this for you. Take Him up on His offer. There can be peace in the hardship.
God’s perfect plan to deal with the sins of mankind was lived out through Jesus. The climax of the plot was reached in the events of Holy Week. I pray that as we look at a few of these moments, you will again be encouraged by all He did for you and me. Celebrate again the true meaning of Easter – the price of our sins was paid and an invitation given to see our life changed forever.