Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
We do things for a reason. That shouldn't come as a surprise. It's fun to talk and think of ourselves as being proactive, but when it comes down to it, everything we do is done for a reason, normally based on something we have seen or heard in the past. That, in turn, informs our ideas about future events and motivates our actions.
The people who greeted Jesus upon his entry into Jerusalem had heard about his past action. He had raised Lazarus from the dead. This raised their Messianic hopes. They therefore wanted to understand Jesus as one coming as the Son of David, to restore the kingdom to Israel, and to sit on the throne, having conquered their oppressors.
All in all, this is not a bad interpretation of Jesus' actions to heal, to cast out demons, and even to raise the dead. He seems able to do even the things that David didn't do. And he seems to be a descendant of David, the one who would rightfully sit on the throne.
Had God not spoken in the past? There would be a king to sit on the throne of David and establish an everlasting kingdom. In Jesus, it looked like the restoration of Israel could be on its way.
Jesus' action of riding into Jerusalem on a donkey could speak to this expectation on two levels. First, he enters like a king, heralded by the people. But second, and more important, he enters as someone who comes in peace. Is it a proclamation of peace already accomplished? Perhaps not. It may be a prediction that peace will come about. Maybe he was planning to do something by which he would achieve a peaceful transfer of power from the Romans to himself. That would certainly not be a bad solution, though certainly some of the Jews would prefer the Romans to be slaughtered wholesale.
Jesus is going to exceed the expectations of the people in some ways. He is going to establish his reign of peace. He is going to cast out the evildoers and usher in his kingdom. But he isn't going to do it the way the people anticipate. He is going to take all the sin of the world upon himself. He, in fact, is going to die for the sin of every last person. His kingdom will be inherited by those who believe him as the king. And he is going to show his victory not by conquering the Romans but by conquering death.
The people who saw the resurrection of Lazarus have been furnished with a hint of this. But the reality still escapes them.
Meanwhile, they do what they recognize is at hand. Jesus is coming, as a king, coming in peace, coming for them. We recognize him in the same way, as the one who has come to make peace for us.
If this brief meditation was helpful to you, I hope you will check out the other materials on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com and consider supporting us.