For audio version: https://youtu.be/hSIl1kIAshw
Prepare to Listen. If helpful, use this prayer from Psalm 31 to calm your heart and mind as you prepare to listen: Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love (v16).
Prayerfully Read John 12:12-19
12The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!’ 14Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written: 15‘Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!’ 16His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him. 17So the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to testify. 18It was also because they heard that he had performed this sign that the crowd went to meet him. 19The Pharisees then said to one another, ‘You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!’
John’s account of Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem is minimalist compared to the other three Gospels. However, his account agrees with them in showing that Jesus refused to turn the occasion into what the crowd wanted and what the church insists on calling it today—a triumphal entry. When the crowd cheered with their victory shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!” Jesus rejected a triumphal approach and instead “found a donkey” to ride. Triumphal kings rode on white chargers, not donkeys, which were ridden by servants and used to haul the spoils of war. Yet Jesus found, sounds like a deliberate act, this humble beast of burden, and rode it, no doubt blunting the excitement of the crowd. His choice of a donkey wasn’t merely fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy (9:9), which John quotes. It was a commitment to God’s humble way of the cross, not the crowd’s arrogant way of violent victory over the enemy.
It often seems that we still want Jesus to be a victorious hero, defeating our enemies, by whatever means. We do this whenever we seek political leaders who will follow our agendas and give us power and influence to enforce our ideals. Jesus resisted the way of political power and violence to influence the world. It seems to me that we, disciples of Jesus ought to follow in his footsteps and find our donkey to ride. I wonder why we, the Church, still seek to force Jesus to take on a triumphal rather than a humble role.
What might be your symbolic donkey, the humble way, for you to ride today?
Respond to Jesus
Jesus, you found a donkey and rode that humble beast into Jerusalem, resisting the crowd’s desire to claim a victorious role and instead identifying with the poor in spirit. Help me follow you by choosing humility, the lesser way. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world. Find your donkey to ride today.
Reflection on Scripture has been a constant in my life ever since I can remember. Reflecting on Jesus in the Gospels has become a necessity to get Jesus right. Join me in reading John to see Jesus more clearly this Lent.