We will need to listen to the noise because the procession is gaining more and more people, with children excitedly joining in In the middle of the crowd, and difficult to see because he is riding such a small animal, is Jesus on his way into Jerusalem. We shall never know whether the disciples had connected the dots when Jesus sent them to fetch the donkey. That they were helping fulfil the prophecy: Shout, daughter of Jerusalem, see your King some to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zech. 9:9). But we do know that all four gospels signal this is a big deal - the beginning of the biggest week in the story of Jesus. The crowd is caught up in celebration, waving branches cut down from the fields and shouting: Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest. It's a crowd event acting out crowd behaviour. And only one person there, one person, know what it is all about. Only Jesus knows this begins the worst week in the history of the world which must be endured for the best ending in the history of the world. We call it Holy Week and it changes the world.
What qualities do we see in Jesus riding a donkey. In fact, it's a good question to ask about all he shows us through this intense week. I need to stress two qualities. First, and obviously, COURAGE. Sheer physical courage to initiate a week that will bring such pain, suffering and death. Couldn't he have postponed it? True, hatred against him in high places is on the rise but consciously, deliberately to ride into the city of death....that takes courage. A fit 33year old at the peak of his powers, influence at a maximum, choosing to enter this city of death. He warned his disciples his life would end on a cross and this is it! Willingly he rides in knowing that he has to do this because God so loves the world that he is giving his one and only Son.
There's moral courage too. For he will need such moral authority for the days ahead. For cleansing the temple,,,, standing alone for truth against the most powerful people in his society and their false judgement. And on the donkey, with the pathos of entering a city that does not know what makes for peace when he weeps (Luke 19:41) while the crowd shouts Hosanna. Six days later a crowd will shout Crucify. And, hard for us to understand, there is spiritual courage, when he who knew no sin would be made sin for our sakes (2 Cor. 5:21). For the first time in his life he would be separated from his Father in the spiritual agony of abandonment on the cross. The crowds cannot see it. This is the Lord of extraordinary courage.