Read John 12: 12-15
We start at the top. Most roller coasters take a while to get going, but this one is already in full swing. Christ, having just raised Lazarus from the dead, was infuriating the Pharisees. They were hot on His heels, seeking to take Him out, but the word had not spread to the Jews. On Palm Sunday, Christ rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, the ultimate act of humility. A power-hungry, arrogant king would have chosen a magnificent white stallion, but not our Savior. A donkey, and a colt at that, was chosen by Christ. Even in the moment when He could have reveled in being praised, He chose to use a donkey, a symbol of modesty.
But why? Why would Jesus pick a donkey? Did he know the hearts of those surrounding Him? Did He realize something deeper that the rest of the onlookers were completely oblivious to? These supposed followers of Jesus were shouting praises, but one week later … one WEEK later … the same “followers” were calling for His death by crucifixion, the most heinous death culturally at the time. This leads me to my perspective of the day: what in the world was going through the minds of these supposed followers of Christ? How can they go from loving Him to hating him in one week’s time? I imagine it went somewhat like this …
“Who is this man? What is going on here?”
John, a local Jew, had heard the commotion on the streets. The shouts were that of jubilation, joy, ecstasy. His fellow friend Mark was already on the street.
“You haven’t heard!?”
The voice was barely audible over the commotion surrounding them, much like attempting to talk to someone at a concert during the climax of the show.
“Heard what? What in the world is going on here?” John shouted.
“The king of Israel! He’s right here!”
Mark’s exasperated voice led John to push his way through the crowd to the front to get a better view. He shielded his eyes from the sun above but was able to make out a figure in the distance riding in on a donkey. As John edged closer, this man looked almost overwhelmed. He acknowledged the crowd, looking all around Him with a gentle smile on His face, yet his hands remained firm on that donkey. Never once did He raise His arms in glory or acknowledge the crowd in any self-serving way. He simply kept that tender, mild look of love on His face, nodding to some and waving softly, shortly to others.
“He raised a man from the dead!” Mark said enthusiastically. “Lazarus is alive!”
John was astonished. “Lazarus? Alive?”
“Alive!” laughed Mark. “Long live the King of Israel!”
John, having never heard of this man riding in on the donkey, began singing His praises too. The atmosphere was too insane not to! His worship of Him was joyous, but was it sincere? He didn’t know. All John knew was that the rest of the crowd was doing it, and it felt right at the time. He certainly didn’t want to be the only one not worshiping.
Jesus Christ, that man on the donkey, rode past them. This worship was astounding, yes, but there was something that ached inside of the newly crowned King of Israel. He felt it in His heart. These people that worshiped Him were the same people that would soon ask for His death. It just didn’t make sense. But Christ continued on through the parade of people, knowing full well what He was riding into. His time was coming to an end, yet there was so much more to accomplish!
John and Mark went back to their lives soon after Christ’s parade was over. Were they intrigued by this man? Sure. Did they believe in Him? Did they understand what He was doing for them? Did they know what sacrifices were in store for them if they became true followers of Christ? Or was this just a big hoopla that they got caught up in? They truly didn’t know.
And the Pharisees, lurking in the shadows, began licking their lips. They were taking this man down, and they were out for blood. Enjoy the ride now, Jesus, they chided. We’ll set them straight soon enough.