And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
I am reminded from my Lenten devotional this morning that while we often tend to rush past Palm Sunday on our way to the Cross and the Resurrection, this passage is crucial for understanding what it is that the Cross and the Resurrection proclaims. It is a picture of celebrating that in which we place our hope before drawing back to allow the passion narrative to reshape this hope in the direction of Jesus’ death and Resurrection. The anticipation of that which we see only partly being made clear. As Jesus declares looking over Jerusalem, “would that you, even you, had known on this day the thing that make for peace!” It’s a question that rings through our own present state of affairs as one can imagine Christ looking over our lives, our cities, our Countries. Here the hopeful proclamation “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” becomes dangerous words when reframed through the shadow of what is to come. Hope comes in the form of a sacrificial servant who likewise requires us to give up our rights and our life for the sake of this peace as we follow in the way and and on this journey. Jesus knows this struggle intimately. It is why He weeps over the city.
And yet, is here, when we arrive at the Resurrection we will ultimately arrive back at this picture of the triumphal entry, not in the way of empire or the way of conquest or power, but in the way of this servant who brings the hope of new life itself. Thus, we can then repeat the words of this proclamation, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” in the light of a new Kingdom vision, one that finds peace in our division through the reign of Christ and thus offers us hope for true life and true healing as image bearers of that which is good, which is perhaps the mightiest work of all.