28th March 2021
...the most peculiar thing...
Put yourself in the scene -
imagine a hot dusty road,
leading down into a valley,
on the far hill, Jerusalem.
Feel the heat, hear the shouting.
Now there is nothing dignified about a donkey;
you can look at him from any angle you like
and you will fail to find what we call 'presence' -
he just hasn't got it!
He is an awkward, stubborn, obstinate,
and some think, stupid beast.
It is the presence of the donkey which makes
Christ's triumphal march into Jerusalem
the most peculiar thing of it's kind in history.
Whoever heard of a conqueror riding
in triumph on an ass?
If any gentiles had been present
when the procession passed by,
they must have been greatly amused.
To give a common donkey a prominent position
was enough to take the dignity
out of any demonstration.
Not that it appeared in that light to the Jews!
The Jew's ideal man was a man of peace,
and when the Messiah came he would come with
all the accoutrements of peace;
not on a prancing steed with the blare of trumpets -
only in war,
did kings ride out on horses;
riding upon an ass as prophesied in Zachariah.
And when we look at that curious processional scene
we can see that the donkey didn't let it down at all.
Here was a young unbroken colt,
unused to carrying a man on it's back,
unused to crowds,
the noise and branches waving in it's face -
it was enough to freak out the most docile animal -
yet here was this youngster striding along
as though it was all in a day's work.
So far from dragging the lowly pomp down to his level,
he seems to have been drawn up to it.
He has caught a strange dignity and
a quiet consciousness of privilege.
The scene is not ludicrous but royal.
The awkward, obstinate, despised beast of burden
has been chosen by the Son of God,
and he seems aware of his elevation.
There is a parable here!
Whatever; whoever Christ touched, he dignified;
and no matter how despised the person or
creature may be, Christ has a use for them.
The donkey recognised his master -
and let's make no mistake about it -
Christ was firmly in control of the situation -
here was no sacrificial lamb being
forced to the slaughter
but a man moving resolutely forward,
with His eyes on the cross to make
that Perfect sacrifice for all.
At the beginning of Holy Week we need to
remember that Jesus was not just the
pivotal character in this
drama of salvation.
As we look at those events and try to interpret them,
we arrange them in a pattern that gives us
an inkling of God's intentions,
and we can see that,
throughout this time, Jesus,
wholly God yet wholly human, is,
at every turn, faced with choices.
There is nothing preordained about his reaction.
He is not being manipulated;
and there is nothing pre-ordained about
the actions of those about him either.
The crowd on Palm Sunday MIGHT have met him with
hostility or indifference,
instead of welcoming him,
the money changers might have retaliated,
Pilate refuse to condemn him.
Because Jesus acted as he did and all the other people
involved acted as they did,
the story came out in a certain way,
and we are able to see it as
the pattern of our salvation.
And where are we in all this?
This week as we journey with Jesus towards
the Cross how will we react?
Do we watch on the sidelines,
or are we actively sharing the journey?
Do we through our thoughts or deeds reject Jesus?
Don't be horrified -
there's good precedence -
if Peter could, who had lived with Jesus for 3 years,
counted as one of inner circle of friends,
how much more could we?
But remember - Peter was forgiven -
and given the keys to heaven and the
responsibility of building the Church.
Because of Christ's action there's always
a chance for forgiveness.
I came across an old article
in one of my files by John Flack,
the ex Bishop of Huntingdon,
and the Churches advisor to the Vatican
before he retired, called
'The Foolishness of God'.
It is very interesting.
God risks the World's salvation
on the choices of one man;
who in turn was at the mercy of
other people's choices.
The foolishness of God consisted
of His committing Himself utterly
to His creation;
I wonder if there would be the same
outcome if He tried it today?
It is something to ponder on!
Let us hope and pray that today we,
like the donkey,
would recognise the Master's authority,
offer ourselves to His will and bow down
in adoration at the foot of the cross
to offer thanks for His great sacrifice.
It may be interesting to watch,
or just listen to a song
'Hosanna - A Palm Sunday Song. '
sung by Maranatha! Singers.h
via the link shown below.