Monday, 18 April 2011

Riding on a donkey

Palm Sunday.  I always find it a bit melancholy, actually; the celebrations don't feel right to me. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to fulfil prophecy, and the crowd went wild.  They cheered and waved and praised and sang.  He must have looked around and seen the happy, welcoming faces of the crowd and marvelled at their fickleness.  Less than a week later they would be screaming in hatred and baying for his blood. 

My Lord, what did you feel?  I want to say that if I'd been there, I wouldn't have been like that.  I would have cheered you and welcomed you and then stayed faithful even when things went bad in a few days time.  I want to assure you that my love would have been more constant than that. I would have stood by you. 

But we both know that isn't the case, don't we?  No doubt I would have been scared and fearful and the instinct for self preservation would probably have kicked in for me just as it did for the others. I would have smiled and cheered and praised you that day and then turned away and cowered and hid when the going got tough. There's no way that I would have spoken up for you. I would have been as bad as all the rest. Perhaps that's why I feel so uneasy on Palm Sunday.  Perhaps it's too close to home.  The ease with which 'Hosanna!' turned to 'Crucify!'  I feel bad that you had to go through it all.  You looked about you with a smile on your face and accepted praise with grace and mercy and at the same time you knew how shallow it all was.  We didn't understand. We're good at not understanding.

It can't have been easy; you were a man after all.  Your humanity must have loved the celebrations, the recognition, the welcome. There must have been an element of enjoyment in it for you. Who doesn't love being loved? But then you are God as well.  You saw beyond the shouts of praise and saw the emptiness of the hearts and the fear and the betrayal. It makes me weep for you. I'm sorry that we did that to you. You, who are honesty, truth, beauty, mercy, forgiveness, grace, peace, straightforwardness, love. You were clean and bright and sinless and you were lauded by those who were dark with hypocrisy. You loved them anyway, because these were the people you came to save. 

How amazing is that. 

Next time, you won't be riding on a donkey, will you? There will be no subtlety about your Triumphal Entry next time round. It won't be open to interpretation.  You will leave us in no doubt.  People will not ask, 'Who is this?' because they will know. You will come in all the majesty and dignity that you chose to set aside on Palm Sunday. 

Every knee will bow.  

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