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April 9, 2017, 12:00 AM

Jesus Journeys for Us

by Sandy Bach

21 1-3 When they neared Jerusalem, having arrived at Bethphage on Mount Olives, Jesus sent two disciples with these instructions: “Go over to the village across from you. You’ll find a donkey tethered there, her colt with her. Untie her and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you’re doing, say, ‘The Master needs them!’ He will send them with you.”

4-5 This is the full story of what was sketched earlier by the prophet:

Tell Zion’s daughter,
“Look, your king’s on his way,
    poised and ready, mounted
On a donkey, on a colt,
    foal of a pack animal.”

6-9 The disciples went and did exactly what Jesus told them to do. They led the donkey and colt out, laid some of their clothes on them, and Jesus mounted. Nearly all the people in the crowd threw their garments down on the road, giving him a royal welcome. Others cut branches from the trees and threw them down as a welcome mat. Crowds went ahead and crowds followed, all of them calling out, “Hosanna to David’s son!” “Blessed is he who comes in God’s name!” “Hosanna in highest heaven!”

10 As he made his entrance into Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken. Unnerved, people were asking, “What’s going on here? Who is this?”

11 The parade crowd answered, “This is the prophet Jesus, the one from Nazareth in Galilee.”  (Matthew 21:1-11 The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson)

Many of you may remember the rock opera, “Jesus Christ Superstar.” I can still hear those lyrics as I imagine Jesus descending from Mt. Olives into the Kidron Valley and to the gates of Jerusalem.

In this scene, the crowd lines each side of the road calling out to Jesus:

"Hosanna Heysanna Sanna Sanna Ho
Sanna Hey Sanna Ho Sanna
Hey J C, J C won't you smile at me?
Sanna Ho Sanna Hey Superstar"  (http://www.lyricsdepot.com/jesus-christ-superstar/hosanna.html)

Later they call out the same words of joy and add,
"Hey J C, J C you’re alright by me!"

Here he comes. Making his way into Jerusalem. He is the son of David; son of God.  Jesus continues descending from the Mount joyfully, laughing and touching the crowds.

God is always doing a new thing. Creation and re-creation; judgement with grace; hope out of hopelessness.

This Lenten season, we’ve examined “Life’s Continuing Journey.” We are tempted and fall because of it. We answer God’s call to go to a new place but not without God. Life seems barren and hopeless until God calls us to a place of promise and hope.

We fall into slavery. God provides freedom and a new way of life. Just when we think God has given up on us, leadership and promise arrive in the most unexpected way.

In the valley of death, we receive second chances and community steps in to unbind us and set us free.

We’re on a journey, you and I and the rest of humanity. A journey in salvation and promise and renewal. It isn’t an easy journey. It requires help and assistance from each other. It requires God.

It’s a journey into salvation.

Today we watch salvation move toward us. He’s on a donkey and colt, symbol of Judah, ancestor of David. He rides on animals that symbolize peace rather than horses of war and death.

The crowds cry out as if in one voice: Hosanna! Save Now!

Come down from Mt Olives like the prophet Zechariah promised. Restore us. Redeem us.

Today is the day we’ve been waiting for. Since the beginning of time we have looked forward to God coming down from Mt Olive into Jerusalem. God, our king, is arriving and all will be well.

The crowds spread cloaks and branches on the road, a welcome befitting a king. Rome stands by and watches. The religious elite stand by and watch.

The crowd welcomes him. This crowd has been building throughout Matthew’s story. And here they are, lining the road from the Mount down into the Kidron Valley and up to Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is in turmoil.  Jerusalem trembles. The trembling won't stop until it is finished.  This is the beginning of the worst week in history.  Jesus’ authority will be questioned; Jesus’ parables will be sharper and the imagery more cloudy to those without ears to listen or eyes to see.  And Jerusalem will tremble.

Jesus will shame the Temple leaders; he’ll pass all the tests on Torah that are flung his way. He’ll foretell the fall of the great Lord’s Temple and his warning will be dire.

The trembling won’t abate.   It will mount, day by day.

"Hey JC, JC, won’t you fight for me?"

"Hey JC, JC, won’t you die for me?"

We can’t do it without you. Hosanna. Save now.

Hosanna has judged us guilty. Hosanna has pronounced the sentence: death. Hosanna knows we can’t save ourselves. So he comes down from the judge’s bench, riding symbols of Judah and David and shalom. Hosanna comes down and removes his robes and takes our place.

Hey JC, won’t you die for me?

Yes. In just a few days.

He'll be betrayed and denied.  He'll be tried and beaten.  He'll die a horrible death.

The trembling will become deafening. The earth will move. The curtain will be torn from top to bottom.  Even the rocks will split and the sun will hide in the darkness.

All because God chose to put on skin, enter into this God-hating world and take the punishment we so richly deserve.

Hosanna will die for you and me and the world.

No wonder Jerusalem trembles.

All glory and honor be to God.

Amen.


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