Have you ever felt on top of the world one minute and in the lowest depths of the earth, the next? I often think of the wild swing in emotions that were in Jerusalem during the passion week. It went from Jesus on palm Sunday riding into Jerusalem on a donkey with the crowd shouting “Hosanna!” to Jesus being beaten and killed on a Roman cross by the end of the week.
Jesus and his disciples started a week filled with just about every emotion in the book. The joy that came on Palm Sunday would be replaced by grief on Friday and then joy again on resurrection Sunday. It was a rollercoaster of emotions. No wonder his disciples struggled with how to respond properly. I would have likely responded just a they did – bewildered at the week’s events.
The Triumphal Entry, as it is labeled in my Bible, was a culmination of three years of teaching and miracles surrounding Jesus’ ministry. Jesus had been working many signs and wonders among the people for years and his reputation was growing in popularity. The zenith of his three year tour would be found in this passion week and it all started with a parade.
It’s interesting in some ways that this is called the Triumphal Entry. Jesus certainly had not won a war, which is what this tradition sometimes calls back to, but like Solomon (1st Kings 1) he was being anointed king and this was his coronation parade (and his enemies were to be defeated after his victory parade). The people recognized this as well, for they ran ahead of Jesus and shouted “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
The issue was they didn’t see the kingdom in the way that Jesus had been describing it over the years. He had painstakingly took the time to detail this coming kingdom. It wasn’t going to come with a massive battle where he would cast out the Roman army. No, it was coming like a grain of mustard – small at first, but growing into a giant tree. Yes, the king was here and yes, the kingdom had arrived, but it wasn’t what the people thought it would be. That’s why they could sign the praises of Jesus on Palm Sunday and yell “crucify him” just a few days later.
It’s interesting how quickly our attitude changes toward God when He doesn’t do things exactly as we want Him to do. The kingdoms of this world were falling, but they didn’t fall over night. Many thought Jesus was going to tear them down immediately and this march in the Jerusalem was going to be the start of the revolution. It was, but not they way they pictured it. Jesus was going to use the kingdoms of this world to bring about his purposes. He would use them to achieve his greatest victory.
The kingdoms of this world were being cast down, but they didn’t know it. As a matter of fact, they would participate in their own demise. Rome would nail its own fate to that tree on Calvary. They thought they were mocking Jesus by putting a crown of thorns on his head, but in reality, they were crowning him King of the World, not just King of the Jews. God is not mocked.
So while the world mocked, the disciples mourned. While the rulers of this world divided his bloody clothing, Jesus was clothing us in new garments that made us white as snow. While they were beating him and leaving stripes across his back, He was healing our sicknesses and diseases. The cross is a glorious paradox of victory in defeat. Yes, Jesus died, but the story doesn’t end there. Death was not the end, it was truly a new beginning.
A rollercoaster of a week, started and ended in triumph.