Every movement, every word, every action performed by Jesus during the length of his 33 years points to something higher, greater, and more fulfilling for us. Christ does not worry about his personal joy and happiness. He is the Source of all joy and happiness.
The action of Palm Sunday is an action that does indeed point to something for us that is higher and greater. The action being Jesus’ victorious entrance into the holy city of Jerusalem.
For anyone who has had the opportunity to do so, an entrance into the holy city today would be most likely on a bus, as tourists, arriving at the old city walls that outline the size and makeup of Jerusalem in our Lord’s time. The bus for us today was Jesus’ donkey. The bus would pass by some of the same landmarks and areas that the Lord knew so well. Passing by the Garden of Gethsemane outside the old walls, where later this week Jesus will be arrested and led to Pilate back inside the walls by a band of soldiers and one traitor who will, in his own way, regret his decision against the Savior of the world.
The bus would provide us with a spectacular view of the Mount of Olives, where olive trees were once numerous. We would see the Kidron Valley in front of us on our riding metal donkey, the valley where numerous tombs of the deceased are clearly visible. From a short distance our bus would provide us a visual of the other mount, the Temple Mount, a holy site for Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. And, we would see what Jesus saw; a city encased inside a wall.
Our triumphal ride into Jerusalem would not be quite on par with the entrance of Jesus, if only because there would be no palms or celebration for us. After stepping off our donkey with tires, the natives would say about us, “Another group of them! Tourists!” At the end of the day, our ride into the holy city would be anticlimactic in the eyes of the natives.
But Jesus; anything but anticlimactic. Instead, a popular uprising. An uprising of rejoicing and celebration, like Lazarus walking out of his tomb after four days. Shouting, cheers, proclamations; “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” And not, “Oh, another bus of them!”
The only comparable situation where the Lord could be considered as having ridden on a bus were all those times he came up to Jerusalem from Nazareth with his family for the Passover as one young boy or young man among thousands arriving in the holy city for the high holy days. In a vast sea of humanity those first 30 years of his life, Jesus of Nazareth was just another tiny part of the bus train. Just another young kid. Just another young Jewish man arriving to commemorate their exodus from the slavery of Egypt. But today He separates himself from the vast sea of humanity, and makes an entrance that portends to something greater and higher.
The Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem on what we now know as Palm Sunday is a movement and action that points to a future movement for us. “I go and prepare a place for you.” Today’s entrance is the beginning of his going. We must always carry within us that truth that all that Jesus said and did was spoken and done for our eternal benefit. In a culture whose memory is fast slipping away from having a vision of eternal benefits, and planting ourselves in a passing world and a life that runs faster than a greyhound (dog or bus), Jesus Christ is zeroed in on our eternal benefit. That our joy may be made complete.
The entrance of Christ into Jerusalem filled with hosannas and blessings is an entrance that points to our personal entrance into the joy of heaven one day. The people in the city crying out the Lord’s praises symbolize the angels who will rejoice at our presence, but especially after our act of repentance. No repentance, no heaven. There is more joy in heaven when one lost sheep comes back to the fold. The palms waved at Jesus symbolize the hands of the angels, giving us a standing ovation for safely making it home, again, through repentance, the message of Lent.
And, the victorious entrance of Christ our Lord into Jerusalem points to his walking out of a tomb. As he entered the city that day, and a tourist can capture this same spiritual truth on a bus, Jesus is leaving behind, as he enters through the gate, the tomb of a passing world outside the walls. Instead of entering a bustling city with shops and merchants and one holy Temple, Christ enters -in his Person- to what we now know as the New Jerusalem. He is the New Jerusalem.
The New Jerusalem is what he has prepared for those who love him. And today’s entrance on a donkey leads all of us believers to that greater and higher entrance won for us in one week.