Excerpted from 2023 Lenten Guide: A Season of Renewal, a Lenten Guide for Lectionary Year A from the North Carolina Council of Churches.
When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet:
“Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
The power of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem was not because he is the King of Israel ruling over the land, but because he is “the servant and teacher” who humbled himself and became obedient even to death in order to lead with love into the kingdom of heaven.
The contrast of the first five weeks of the Lenten season to the celebration of Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week provides the opportunity for deep reflection on the differences between repentance and celebration. What does it truly mean to be humble and glorious at the same time? What does it also mean to live a life of servitude and simultaneously be crucified for exemplifying true power? Jesus shows us that we must surrender our hearts so that we may know the importance of tragic events and situations without needing to understand fully why they happen. We must completely trust in God’s love.
The Scripture readings for Palm Sunday call us to meditate on how our faith is the source of our strength as we courageously carry even the heaviest of burdens. We do not suffer alone. Jesus mercifully teaches us through the journey of trusting in our faith and through the experience of suffering as we are led towards resurrection and the true celebration of life.
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