Nothing Can Stop Jesus Entry Into Jerusalem
As we grieve what is lost this year – the waving palms, the soaring swell of the organ, the joy of singing with one another in the sanctuary, the touch of handshakes and hugs – we can be sure Jesus meets us where we are, no matter how we are. Jesus will not stop on the outskirts of Jerusalem or on the fringes of our lives. He enters fully into the city knowing what’s to come. He enters fully into our lives, knowing our doubts, failings, denials, betrayals, misunderstandings and disappointments. He comes humbly toward us, accepting whatever we offer, a palm branch or tattered coat, exuberant praise or mumbled hope, knowing that soon he will go to the cross for our sake.
Our world, our lives, the whole city is stirred up right now. Then, as now, Jesus comes into places and spaces of upheaval, injustice, sickness, need and evil. He came into this shaken-up earthly realm to save it, to bring healing and wholeness, forgiveness and mercy, grace upon grace. The word for “stirred up” is found only five times in all of the New Testament. Three of those five are in Matthew’s Gospel, and all three of those occurrences relate to Jesus’ Passion and resurrection. This stirred-up city will be the site, in just a few days, where the earth will shake, rocks will split and the temple curtain will be torn in two. This celebratory scene, teeming with people, will soon be deserted, Jesus alone with only the women remaining. The earth will shake yet again, the stone will be rolled away and the guards will be the ones who tremble in fear at the sight of the dazzling angel. All this upheaval, cities stirred up with anxiety and illness, countries heaving with disasters natural and unnatural, human beings reeling from forces well outside of their control, and still Jesus will not be thwarted. He enters into the fray, vulnerable, humble, so close he can see our faces, hear our petitions, feel our swirling emotions.
Nothing can stop Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Nothing can stop the coming of the Son of God. Nothing can prevent Jesus from being present in the midst of all that shakes us and stirs us and causes us to tremble. Soon the earth will shake and the rocks will split and the temple curtain will be torn in two. The crowds will disappear. Even Jesus’ closest friends will abandon him. All will seem lost and dead and beyond redemption, but only for a while, for three days when time will seem to stand still. Then God will upend all our expectations yet again, and those tasked with keeping Jesus in the grave will be the ones shaken and rendered useless, because nothing can stop Easter, either.
What you can do. What if everyone on Palm Sunday in the morning puts a branch on the door of their house or on the window to celebrate Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. It could be any green branch. This would help despite the social distancing, to be connected as we enter into the Holiest of Weeks.