Announce to the people
‘Your king is coming to you!
He is humble
and rides on a donkey.
He comes on the colt
of a donkey. (Matt 21:5 CEV)
Hooray for the Son of David!
God bless the one who comes
in the name of the Lord.
Hooray for God
in heaven above! (Matt 21:9)
Palm Sunday is a day of joy, a triumphal entry to Jerusalem of a humble king. But there is so much going on in this story that both adds to the joy, and gives us pause for thought. We see Jesus as the humble king, riding on a donkey; come to reconcile all people, and all creation to God through himself. We see Jesus bringing justice back to the temple, restoring it as a place of prayer instead of a place of thieves who were ripping off the poor and marginalised. Jesus heals those who come to him, delights in the voices of the children praising him – all in the face of the synagogue leaders who will get angrier and angrier until they snap and allow themselves to become murderers.
Jesus, at the start of this extraordinary week, is again alerting people to the reign of God, as he has done throughout his life. In everything he does, we see him pointing to the work of reconciliation, justice, beauty, and wholeness that God is doing through him, and will continue to do through the Holy Spirit in the lives and communities of people throughout the centuries that have followed.
As we rejoice in the triumph of Jesus this day, and as we attune our hearts to the roller-coaster that is Passion Week, we can also recognise that Jesus, in all situations, honours God and opens the way for all people to experience the reign of God. There will always be those who are blinded by their own agendas, their own desire for power, or control. But for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, the kingdom of God is near.
We are called therefore, as disciples, as those who have been equipped by the Holy Spirit, to continue the work of Jesus of alerting people to the reign of God.
“Since reconciliation between God and humankind is at the heart of Christ’s work on the cross, it makes sense that reconciliation should be a core expression of God’s reign and rule.” (Surprise the World, p. 36)
“Christians have long recognised in Scripture a call to defend and uphold the dignity and wellbeing of all persons, especially the poor and powerless.” (Surprise the World, p. 36)
“If beauty is an expression of God’s reign, we need to think about ways to invite our friends to encounter it…But more than [just]natural beauty, I think we should commit ourselves to creating beautiful music, art, craft, and food, and inviting others to join us.” (Surprise the World, p. 37)
“The ‘credentials’ He presents to prove He is the Messiah, ushering in the universal reign of God, are the restitution of broken people. He heals the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf and even the dead as an evidence of God’s kingdom coming in glory.” (Surprise the World, p. 38)
We are not Jesus, and there are many things he did that we cannot do, and many that would not be appropriate for us to do, yet this call to live in such ways is imperative to us. On this day may our lives be opened anew to the reign of God in the world today. It is not yet perfect, not yet complete, still on the roller-coaster of joy and despair that is the world we live in, but with a surety that our king is coming again, and with the knowledge that we are called to be on the king’s mission, bringing reconciliation, justice, beauty, and wholeness to the world around us, so that when he returns he will find us deeply engaged in whatever ways he has shown us, with whatever skills, gifts, and passions he has given us, to the best of our abilities through the power of the Holy Spirit.