“Entering the Rat Trap”
There are two great donkey rides in Jesus’ life. The first one is in Mary’s womb on the way to his Bethlehem birth. The second is in the womb of the disciples’ friendship on the way to his Jerusalem death.
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”
14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.
16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
“‘From the lips of children and infants
you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”
17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
In entering the gates of Jerusalem, Jesus is entering a rat trap. In a strange sort of way, it is Jesus’ own love that has baited the trap. Once he is in, we can almost feel the gates closing behind him. Do you feel trapped at the moment?
The crowd are ecstatic and joyful, but what is that strange faraway look in Jesus’ eye? The people wave branches and scatter their coats; he grips the reins with determination; all eyes are on him, but his eyes on are on the green hill.
How are you worshipping during this pandemic? Have you found new music? Have you missed the Sunday gatherings and services? When things are removed from us we can find a new appreciation of what we’ve lost. What do you miss about Sunday worship?
With peoples’ singing still ringing in his ear, Jesus makes his way, purposefully, to the centre of Jewish religion; he hasn’t forgotten his mission. At the Temple, he feels the air and in sharp difference to the praises that he’s moved through, he enters into dispute with the traders. The people still flock to him: the blind and lame are healed; the religious leaders are outraged.
Pray for those needing healing? Do you need healing? Come to Jesus.
Are you uncertain about what Jesus is doing? Spend some time being honest about your worries and anxieties. It is okay to come to God with mixed-motives: wanting to praise him, sing Hosanna, while also being uncertain.
Finally, he returns to his “safe house” and spends the night at Bethany.
At a time when we are instructed to ‘stay home,’ how is home a safe place? Pray for those for whom home is an unsafe place, particularly children more at risk.