Continuing our simple Sunday reflections on the gosepl of Mark. We’ve come to Jesus’ arrival at last in the holy city of Jerusalem.
This is a big moment. Finally the Messiah reaches his destination.This is a text all about the Messiah, the city and the temple.
I remember well standing some years ago on the Mount of Olives looking across the Kidron Valley at the golden dome of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It is not that hard to imagine the dramatic image in this text of Jesus gazing across that same valley, but at the magnificent second temple complex of Herod the Great.
It’s risky trying to psychoanalyse Jesus or read his mind. But his actions speak clearly here of his own self-understanding. The story of the unridden colt [saved for a sacred task] speaks like an acted parable – Jesus declaring his messianic status by claiming Zechariah’s prophecy as his own. The ‘messianic mania’ so evident all through the gospel reaches its climax with the chants of the crowd acclaiming Jesus as the long-awaited one, come in the name of the Lord to renew the kingdom of David.
The verse that hits me here is the last one. After all the tumult of the day, after the long build up over 3 years of ministry, here finally in the gathering gloom of night, quietly and unobserved, is Jesus the Lord at the temple – the dwelling place of God, the heart of Israel. A pause before the confrontational climax of his mission; confrontation not only with the religious and political elites within Jerusalem, but with the powers of sin and evil he has come to overthrow. A confrontation won not with military might, but in humiliy and suffering of the Messiah himself.
The Triumphal Entry
1As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’ ”
4They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
10“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest!”
11Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.