Crossing a path on Palm Sunday

MA062S01 World Bank
It’s only a donkey! There was no horsepower to Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem.
Photo from the World Bank Photo Collection

In his excellent book Barefoot DiscipleStephen Cherry reminds us that we have misunderstood Jesus’ “triumphal” entry into Jerusalem and suggests that we should not be celebrating a triumphal entry on Palm Sunday but a “humble entry”. That is what Matthew makes of it. Matthew cuts the “triumphant and victorious” reference of Zechariah’s prophecy and simply says, “Look your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey.” (21:5). The crowd wanted a triumphal entry of a Saviour to please them. Jesus’ humble entry led to a humble end. He refused to play to the crowd (his last temptation?) who expected him to turn the tables on their occupiers, and then they turned the tables on him.

Like many Christians I joined the Palm Sunday procession yesterday. I was at Chester Cathedral. We went into the city. I have seen many processions, including many I dare not and could not cross. They were triumphal processions. They were pompous processions. Yesterday several people crossed our path.  This was an unpretentious procession. This was a procession you could touch (and the children loved petting the donkey!) I appreciated the soft edge of our procession and the hospitality of the ground that was given to all who passed by. If that’s the way of the cross, that’s the way to go.

How Jesus entered Jerusalem challenges our rather grand entrances. Don’t we like to wade in? Don’t we like to look big? Don’t we try to impress? I followed the humble procession yesterday. I’m not so sure how much I fit with my other interventions, my entries into conversations, rooms and situations. There’s a way to go: a way that is far more compassionate.

Stephen Cherry blogs at Another Angle

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