The Coolest Thing About Palm Sunday

Jesus' Entry into Jerusalem; 12th century mosaicOne of the great joys of parenting is seeing your kids grow up into responsible, capable young people. The reason for this is that at a certain age you can get them to do things for you.

The other night I was the Byrer’s house and Lauren asked her son Jack, who is now seven, if he would go into the kitchen and get her a glass of water. He jumped right up and literally sprinted out of the room. As we heard him climbing up on the counter to grab a glass, Lauren turned to Mark and myself and smiled, a very satisfied look on her face: “It is so wonderful,” she said, like someone who had just seen a majestic sunset over the Rockies or tasted the most delicious chocolate truffle in the world.

I wonder if in that exact moment she didn’t realize that she had given birth to four future servants, if she could only get them all potty-trained. Later that night, the youngest boy, George, came running downstairs, wearing nothing but a t-shirt and a face full of determination. His tiny legs pumping like and old steam engine, he was a man on a mission and barely noticed me on the couch except to exclaim, “Gotta get a diaper!”

I think Lauren is well on her way to a life of luxury and leisure. And she deserves it.

I am not sure why we get less thrilled about helping our parents as we get older, except that maybe the tasks they want us to do are kind of mundane. Ordinary. Mowing the lawn, washing dishes, making your bed. These are things we do every day. They don’t really capture our imagination any more. And things we do day after day after day start to become, meaningless, cliche, just an endless repetition of the same routine.

But when something new pops up, watch out. People are all over it. Remember memes? Good night, everyone and their sister was posting ridiculous memes on Facebook for about a year, maybe six months. My cat likes cheezburgrz or some such nonsense. Now there are only the meme crumbs left. We’re on to something else. (I am horribly out of touch otherwise I would tell you what it is. Snapchat? Are we past that annoying technology, yet? )

Maybe this is why, when Jesus asks his disciples to go borrow a colt for him (I’d say steal, but that’s probably not what was going on) that gets my attention. He had never done that before, that I know of. “What, Jesus? You want us to go get you a donkey to ride on?”

In my mind it is a full on sprint: twelve disciples, red-faced, robes flowing, arms pumping: “Gotta get the donkey!”

It may seem like a little thing, going to fetch a donkey, but this was really a big deal.

All of the Gospels, other than Mark, quote an old passage from Zechariah:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)

I wonder when it dawned on them all that, “Oh, Jesus is riding into Jerusalem as a fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah. Yeah, that makes sense now why he needed the colt. That’s a big deal.” The text isn’t really clear on the timing of it all, but maybe they understood early on that he needed their ‘help’ (technically he didn’t, for example, I don’t need Grace to wash the dishes for me) because something big, something kingdom-like is about to happen and he wants them to be part of it. I mean it is a small part, maybe insignificant, but the fact remains that Jesus asked his disciples to go get him a colt, so that he could ride into Jerusalem as the king we read about in Zechariah.

Jesus asked them to be part of the fulfillment of prophecy. That’s pretty cool.

And I think Jesus wants us to be part of his second entrance to the city. John writes in Revelation,

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were waving palm branches in their hands. And they cried in a loud voice:

‘Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.’ (7:9-10)

Remember that little request Jesus made before he left? Something about going to the uttermost parts of the earth? Yeah, that’s our donkey and he’s asking us to go get them and bring them to him. He wants us to help him, not because he needs us, but because he is just awesome like that and he knows we will want to know we played a small part on that last Palm Sunday.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, he was the center of attention. He will be at the center the next time, too. And I think it is pretty amazing he wants us to have a part in all that.

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