Jesus Comes To Jerusalem: Jesus Comes To Us

Jesus Comes To Jerusalem: Jesus Comes To Us March 28, 2021

Unknown iconographer: Jesus enters into Jerusalem / Wikimedia Commons

Rejoice! “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand” ( Philip. 4:4-5 RSV). “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass” (Zech. 9:9 RSV). Rejoice in the coming of the Lord! Rejoice, for God is with us! Rejoice in the immanent eschaton!  Rejoice in the presence of the Lord! The Lord has come – into Zion itself, into our midst, showing us the glory of the kingdom of God. Rejoice!

While Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem is an event in history, because it is an act of the eternal Logos, it is an event which we can experience now, within ourselves. Just as Jesus entered into Jerusalem, so he comes to us; we should make way for the Lord, coming to us with his two natures ( allegorically represented by the colt, his divine nature,  and the ass, his human nature).[1]

Let us rejoice and be glad in the presence of the Lord. Let us find joy in the manifestation of the kingdom of God. If God is with us, who can be against us? Sadly, the answer lies with us. We can be our own worst enemy. We can quickly turn from the love and joy which we experience in the coming of the Lord to anger and hatred of sin. We can find ourselves celebrating the coming of the Lord before joining with the throngs of those who crucify Jesus with their sins.

The hope established at  Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, the hope of the coming of the kingdom of God, is fulfilled in the passion of Christ. The two events go together. We would not have  the full revelation of the kingdom of God without the cross. The Lord entered into Jerusalem so he could fulfill his work, taking on the sins of the world upon himself, letting all the hate of the world be cast upon him so as to show the world, through his loving kindness, that all such hate is ephemeral and will be as naught in the kingdom of God. God’s love is greater than hate, and so the kingdom of God is greater than the power of sin.

Thus, just as Jesus entered into Jerusalem, Jesus comes to us, and we should rejoice. We should join in with those who rejoiced in the coming of the Lord. But when we do so, we should remember why Jesus came: it was to bring God’s saving grace to the whole of creation, taking away the hate and sin which contaminated it. Jesus entered into Jerusalem to show the glory of the kingdom of God, the glory which is revealed at the cross, the glory of God’s absolute love. It is revealed as being absolute because it is also kenotic, for only if it can give itself entirely away can it be absolute love.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Who is it that comes in the name of the Lord but the  Lord himself? For only the Lord truly possesses the Lord’s name. Jesus reveals himself to be Lord, not by lording it over others, but by letting others first try to lord it over him. He lets them engage the tyranny of sin so that they will find, when they exhaust all their hate upon him, that their sin is nothing in comparison to the absolute love of God. This is why Jesus is able to call everyone to himself, for in his self-sacrificial love, he opens up the space in himself for all to be taken in by him. Then, in him, they can be taken out of the kingdom of sin, the kingdom of hell, and share with Jesus in the glory of the kingdom of God. This is why St. Photius preached:

Blessed is He that cometh to spread out His arms on the cross, and to gather the gentiles unto Himself. Blessed is He that cometh to make Hell a prisoner, to release Adam from his bonds, and to raise him from his fall. Blessed is He that cometh to destroy the power of tyranny, and to bestow liberty on them that are sore distressed. Blessed is He that cometh to empty out the storehouses of Hell. And to fill the heavenly mansions with the throng of the saved. Blessed is He that cometh to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sake, to expiate all our sins, and to reconcile us to the Father. Blessed is He that cometh to suppress death, to inaugurate our resurrection, to free us from servitude, and to bestow on us His adoption.[2]

Jesus comes to us to free us from our slavery to sin. Jesus came to empty the storehouses of hell. He didn’t come to judge the world but to save it. Jesus didn’t come to judge Jerusalem, but to save it. Jesus didn’t come to judge the Jews, but to save them. Jesus didn’t come to judge sinners, but to save them. We are all in this together; it is sin which would have us believe otherwise.

Let us, therefore, not despair over our sins; God has been revealed as the God of love, a love which is greater than death and sin. “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”  (Philip. 4:6-7 RSV). Let us approach God with love. Let us reveal that love in what we say and in what we do. We should join ourselves with Jesus so that Jesus can be present in us. For if he is present in us, then, through us, he can be present in the world. We will truly become his arms and feet. And in him, with his great love, we will truly be able to preach to the world the good news that his love and grace is greater than the powers of sin.

[1] There are many ways in which the colt and the ass can be understood; seeing how they represent the two natures of Christ does not mean other interpretations about the colt and the ass are not legitimate.

[2] St. Photius, The Homilies of Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople. Trans. Cyril Mango (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1958; repr. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2017), 160 [Homily VIII].


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