He heard the ancient words whispered somewhere within the crowd. Words of His prophet, spoken so many years ago, now fleshing themselves out through this present scene. His eyes followed the words and He turned to meet the woman’s gaze. He smiled at her, the kind of smile you give a well-known friend – easy, open and full of welcome. With His eyes He spoke into her heart, then turned His head forward and continued on His way toward Jerusalem.
The children made Him laugh – tripping over one another, waving their branches in the air, some as tall as themselves! Their faces were broad and free, an open acceptance of this One riding upon a donkey. Their singing reminded Him of Home.
Despite the growing crowds, the colt He rode never startled, nor did it stumble. Each step – whether it be upon palm fronds, dusty cloaks or packed dirt road – was made with quiet intention, as if somehow the animal shared the same single-minded focus as its rider. He occasionally rubbed between the donkey’s ears or stroked its baby-soft mane, maybe as much to distract Himself from His own grave purpose, as well as offer praise to this simple, but steady, beast-of-burden.
As the noisy procession drew toward the city, He finally forced His eyes to rest upon it. Suddenly, all the energy and emotion He had exercised towards restraint, broke forth. As one who looks upon a betraying lover for the first time after betrayal, so He looked upon Jerusalem. No longer did He hear the Hosanna’s or the steady tromp of His colt upon the royal carpet laid before Him. Instead His ears were filled, first with the emptiness of abandonment, then the future cries of destruction. Hope laid low within Him – the hope which defined Him – and His heart felt sick.
“If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace,” He cried, lost to the crowd and their uncomfortable glances; speaking as One alone with His Jerusalem, “but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
Coming to a complete stop, He allowed grief to have its way, choking on His own sobs, sadness coursing itself through His veins, yet not leading Him into complete despair. His disciples were so confused, they didn’t even try to comfort Him. They’d long given up trying to understand. Rather, they focused on all they knew to do. With their heads turned from their Teacher, they diverted the people’s attention by herding them along with the colt, and cleared His way to Jerusalem.
Upon entering the city, He went straight for the temple. From the time He was a child, once, to his parent’s utter fright turned frustration, He’d known the temple as home – a place of comfort. A place to connect with His Father. Yes, it was holy and set apart for worship and teaching for all who called on the name of the LORD. But mostly for Him, it was a place of security and of Hope.
But rather than find His temple open and ready for Him, He discovered it cluttered with merchants and money changers. With the Passover feast fast approaching, the number of sellers was of Goliath proportions. Animal pens everywhere, vendors shouting prices over one another, luring out-of-towners with their bargain “sacrifice” prices, out-biding the competition but only enough to secure their prey. Money changers stood at every corner scamming unsuspecting foreigners just enough to make a profit but not enough for their treachery to be discovered.
This was not His home. This was a noisy, smelly marketplace – the feces of self-interest and personal profit covering its floors. Just as His soul had earlier flooded with sorrow, it now raged with a holiness no mortal had witnessed since God’s wrath in the desert during the Exodus. In smooth, broad strokes, He drove out the vendors, tipping the merchants’ tables – coins flying; dove-filled cages toppling to the ground.
“My house is to be called a house of prayer for all nations! But you have made it into a den of robbers.”
He saw not the masses of people staring at Him in shocked silence, nor did He care that the Pharisees and priests of the temple were glaring at Him in open hate. He feared no repercussions, for “zeal for His House had consumed Him.” (John 2:17, Ps. 69:9)
Some things of interest:
- Often we think of Jesus as being only God on earth. But, He was fully human, too. Thus my feeble attempt to tell today’s Holy Week story through His eyes.
- The Scripture accounts I have studied to construct today’s scenes come mostly from Luke 19: 41-46.
- My children have often asked me, “How could Jesus be angry? Isn’t being angry sin?” Of course, we adults know it is possible for us to be angry and not sin… we also know how nearly impossible it is.
Is it possible that Hope will not flourish under cramped living quarters? How crowded is your soul with the cares of this world? Are you zealous to “clean house” or have you grown quietly fond of your hoarded worries and concerns?