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.
It's a surprise to see someone apparently out of context. Our lives are surprisingly varied. When my wife was a preschool teacher it was always a surprise to students to see her somewhere other than at school. I recently learned that one of the United States Supreme Court Justices enjoys going on driving vacations with his wife in an RV. I doubt he wears his robe in the campside. We picture the archbishop wearing his uniform, not wearing jeans and a t-shirt buying a bag of apples at the grocery store.
What is Jesus' context? Most people seemed to recognize him as a rabbi, so we picture him dressed in the garments that a rabbi would wear, walking from place to place, maybe sitting down somewhere and talking with others. The context changes a little in Matthew 21:1-9. At this time, Jesus enters Jerusalem, but not walking with his disciples and possibly a group of people who are trying to listen in. There's a little ceremony. Or perhaps a lot of ceremony.
Jesus has sent the disciples to borrow a donkey. Apparently the owner knew this was going to happen, or at least Jesus knew the owner would allow it. Maybe he had cleared it in advance or simply had a good reputation with the owner. The donkey was to become his transportation into Jerusalem.
This was symbolic of a king coming into the city, coming in peace. But Jesus is a rabbi, not a king. Does he suddenly look kingly? We don't hear about his appearance changing, whether by wearing something different or having a supernatural change such as on the mountain of transfiguration. But Jesus is welcomed as a king.
It seems an impromptu procession. Some people spread garments out. Some cut or broke branches to wave like flags. We don't know how far the procession went. But we do know that Jesus was welcomed into the city as the coming king.
There's a crowd in front of Jesus and a crowd behind him. Again, we don't know how large the crowd is. We do know that they are making a stir. They are proclaiming him to be the Son of David, therefore someone with a claim to the throne of Israel. They are identifying him as the one coming in the name of the Lord.
When Jesus comes, even if he looks like a rabbi, he is, in fact, the Messiah. He is the true king of all. And he has come in peace, to bring peace upon all his people. The events of Holy Week include teaching, preaching, and eventually Jesus' arrest, trial, and death. To bring peace, Jesus is going to die a violent death, be laid in a tomb, and return to life again. He is going to take on death itself and win. The shouts of the crowd, "Hosanna," are prophetic. They are asking that God would save his people. This is precisely what Jesus does. He is showing himself to be the true Son of David, the true King of Israel.
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.