(an excerpt from my upcoming devotional, Walking with Jesus to the Cross)
As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.”This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said,
“Tell the people of Jerusalem,
‘Look, your King is coming to you.
He is humble, riding on a donkey—
riding on a donkey’s colt.’”
The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. They brought the donkey and the colt to Him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it. Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of Him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around Him were shouting,
“Praise God for the Son of David!
Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the lord!
Praise God in highest heaven!”
The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked. And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” Matthew 21:1-11
Who is this?
“Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”
Yes, but who is He?
This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.
“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael asked when Philip invited him to come and meet the one Moses and the prophets wrote about. Nathanael was skeptical. His response is not surprising given what many believed about Nazareth at the time.
After all, Nazareth was but a small remote village that did not play a major role in either the political or religious history of the Jews. To believe the Messiah would hail from such a place seemed almost absurd.
This morning, they seem to believe He can come from such small beginnings and He is entering Jerusalem. This morning, I am standing with the crowd on the road into Jerusalem, watching and wondering. There is a lot of noise, voices raised in song and celebration but also in questioning. Jesus rides on a donkey. He quotes scripture, indicating it is being fulfilled.
Around Him is chaos.
We don’t know it yet, watching Him enter Jerusalem, everything is about to change. Right now, we shout and celebrate. This moment requires nothing more of us than joy. It is easy to join in and so I do.
Watching Him, following Him, my stomach flutters with a sense of anticipation. Something big is about to happen; I can feel it. I can see it in His eyes. Though the crowd is singing and shouting and stirred up in jubilee, His eyes tell a different story.
He knows something the rest of us don’t and it shows in His eyes. There is a sadness there. Or maybe it is resignation? While the people swirl around me in celebration, I stop shouting and stare at Him, trying to take Him in. Trying to discern what I see.
As I watch Him, as I study His face taking in the faces of the crowd surrounding Him, I recognize what I see in His eyes is compassion. It is love.
An extravagant, unconditional love.
This extravagant love flows out from Him and it is palpable. It wraps around me like an embrace. It comforts me. It draws me in and it is why I follow Him even though I am jostled and crushed by the throng of jumping, dancing, exuberant people.
When He looks at me, I start. For a moment, I feel compelled to look away. Shame creeps into my consciousness. I am not worthy of this king, humble though He appears. But I don’t look away. Something in His eyes holds mine.
It is His extravagant, unconditional, passionate love for me.
Even so, I am afraid. I am afraid because I know He sees me, all of me. I am afraid because His love is overwhelming and yet intimate. I am afraid because I know that when this king, this Jesus, enters Jerusalem, the rules are going to change.
His eyes betray His determination. He has come for a reason. He is here for a reason. He was born for this reason.
There is purpose in His eyes, in His riding on a donkey, in His very being, His every breath. Everything He has done up to this point has led Him here. Has led all of us here.
And so we enter Jerusalem. Together. As He enters the city my sense of anticipation ignites a desire in me to draw near to Him. To stay close to Him. To follow Him. To love Him. With as an extravagant love as I can. Even if I am afraid of what that love will require. Which I am beginning to realize as I watch Him move slowly through the crowded street is nothing less than all of me.
This is an excerpt from my upcoming devotional, Walking with Jesus to the Cross. Be sure to sign up for my updates so you don’t miss anything about the February 14 release.