Lenten Devotional // Palm Sunday

Sunday, April 10
Palm Sunday by Martin Leathers

Luke 19:28-44
After Jesus said this, he continued on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
As Jesus came to Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he gave two disciples a task. He said, “Go into the village over there. When you enter it, you will find tied up there a colt that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say, ‘Its master needs it.’” Those who had been sent found it exactly as he had said.
As they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?”
They replied, “Its master needs it.” They brought it to Jesus, threw their clothes on the colt, and lifted Jesus onto it. As Jesus rode along, they spread their clothes on the road.
As Jesus approached the road leading down from the Mount of Olives, the whole throng of his disciples began rejoicing. They praised God with a loud voice because of all the mighty things they had seen. They said,
“Blessings on the king who comes in the name of the Lord.
    Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens.”
Some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, scold your disciples! Tell them to stop!”
He answered, “I tell you, if they were silent, the stones would shout.”
As Jesus came to the city and observed it, he wept over it. He said, “If only you knew on this of all days the things that lead to peace. But now they are hidden from your eyes. The time will come when your enemies will build fortifications around you, encircle you, and attack you from all sides. They will crush you completely, you and the people within you. They won’t leave one stone on top of another within you, because you didn’t recognize the time of your gracious visit from God.”

Is anyone else noticing that Jesus just sent his disciples on an ancient Isrealite carjacking? Seriously, I’ve read this story 100 times, but I think this is the first time I’ve truly appreciated that he sent his disciples to go grab someone’s donkey and not answer any questions. Feels a little Sopranos, no? (Sidebar: they tell its OWNER that it’s MASTER needs it. Bold strategy, Cotton.)
What I notice in the story this year aren’t the robes on the ground or the crowds that seemed to multiply. No, this year I notice just how… normal this all feels. Don’t get me wrong; it’s very NOT normal. It’s a poor carpenter riding into town on a horse being cheered by crowds of common people throwing their clothes on the dusty roads chanting about the Lord and heaven and the king.
But it’s the middle of a normal day and Jesus is riding through Bethpage and Bethany. Clearly people must have known he was coming. (I imagine it’s kind of like a T-Swift concert coming to town. You could just feel it in the air.) There was anticipation. There was excitement. The man who did the miracles was coming. And yet, he just rides through town. It’s not Prince Ali riding into town with golden camels in Aladdin. It’s just… Jesus.
And yet the crowds are awed. They realize they are in the presence of something holy. Yet, it wasn’t in a church. There wasn’t a priest or pastor saying any special words to introduce it. The stained glass was missing and no one pulled out a hymnal. There was no plan or order or church bulletin. It was just Jesus, the living, breathing picture of God in the flesh.
The Pharisees are completely upset. This isn’t how holy moments work. This didn’t fit in the boxes. It didn’t compute. This wasn’t how you were supposed to connect with God. They missed what was so painfully obvious to the crowds.
And yet, I think most days I’m like Pharisees. I tend to miss the point. I’ve had incredibly significant and transformative experiences of God’s presence. Sometimes it was in the most likely places like churches. And sometimes it’s been in the least likely places. But the older I get, the more tempted I am to expect God in particular ways. I’m more trained to expect God to work within my expectations.
What would the world look like if we walked through it expecting to encounter Jesus in the everyday, unlikeliest of places? What if we expected Jesus to show up in the staff meetings, the traffic jams, the household chores, and the middle school pick-up line? What if we were on the lookout for Jesus the way the crowds were? May we expect to find Jesus in the day-to-day. Something tells me we just might find him. 

Question for Contemplation
What gets in the way of you seeing Jesus in the everyday ordinary?

Father, invite us closer. As you rode through these dusty streets of Jerusalem through the crowds, you are alive and present here today. Let us throw off our overcoats and sense of dignity and fall so in love with you that we join the stones in worshiping what you are doing daily in our midst. Amen

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