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, they asked not long ago. This morning, they seem to believe it can.
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, that 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 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 that surrounds him, I recognize that 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 me in it 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.
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 that all of me.