After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”
Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”
They replied, “The Lord needs it.”
They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.
Jesus enters Jerusalem as a king. The small subtleties of the passage are probably lost on most of us as modern readers. First, you have the colt, an unbroken mount, traditionally only a king could ride his horse. The unbroken colt was considered sacred and for a king to simply ride it pointed to his divine authority. Second, Jesus, the Lord, demands the colt. Also, a thing that something only kings would have done in that time. Third, Luke tells us that the people “put Jesus” on the colt. This is an enthronement ceremony, where the people identify Jesus as the king. Fourth, you have the procession itself with the hosannas and praise of God.
As you can see in the story above the religious folks were again quite put out by what Jesus was up to. He was entering Jerusalem as a messianic king. There as already an emperor and a king, who was Jesus to enter this way and acting as though he was the Messiah? The religious leaders demanded that Jesus shut the people up.
Jesus’ response? “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
You see there is something more going on here than the people simply being excited about a possible Messianic King. This story falls right on the heels of Jesus trying to explain that the kingdom would not be coming as soon as they all thought it would. Yet, they knew their true king.
Sunday, starts Advent. It’s the beginning of the Christian new year. It’s a fast season where we await the coming of the King. Typically, during this season we don’t practice communion in our community and then celebrate the Lord’s table again on Christmas. Yet, this year we haven’t taken communion in a long time due to the pandemic. There has been a hole in our gathering without the table.
Not only that, we have not been feasting together each Sunday either. Typically, Sunday nights we gather for a feast before we turn our attention to the Scriptures, prayer, and communion.
This reality of waiting has made the coming of Advent feel a bit different this year. It really feels like Advent has been ongoing since about March. I’m ready for the light in the darkness. I’m ready to feast with my friends again. I’m ready to celebrate our King at his table.
I have never felt Advent the way I am feeling it this year.
Recently, I reached out to my network and asked for people to share with me what they were hoping for as we looked toward the new year. I was hoping to share something each day during Advent about what folks were hopeful for. There was only one response. The reality is that many are feeling hopeless. We are all collectively experiencing a dark night of the soul.
I think that perhaps, I’m starting to understand what it means to long for something. Granted, a few months doesn’t equate to the 400 years between Malachi and Jesus, but man, these last number of months have felt long, dark, and heavy.
Perhaps, this Advent and this Christmas we will discover that our hope can be found in the light of the world. Could it be that we move beyond the superficial and embrace something beyond the material.
Maybe this Christmas, for the first time in a long time, we will see it for what it is. Maybe, we will finally grasp the reality of the revolutionary and subversive love that exploded in the world through the cry of an infant in the town of David.