A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke:
Jesus proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.
As he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples.
He said, “Go into the village opposite you, and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here.
And if anyone should ask you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you will answer, ‘The Master has need of it.’”
So those who had been sent went off and found everything just as he had told them.
And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying this colt?”
They answered, “The Master has need of it.”
So they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt, and helped Jesus to mount.
As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road;
and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen.
They proclaimed: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”
He said in reply, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!”
Today, He meets with His disciples at the Mount of Olives, and they do as He says. They go down and find a colt that no one’s ever sat on before. The people show up and say their lines as the Master predicted, and the disciples stay there. The whole thing goes perfectly, just as you’d imagine it would if God were entering into Jerusalem.
A few days from now, He will go with His disciples to the Mount of Olives, and they will not do as He says. He will not only ask but beg them to stay awake, and they will not. And everything will go as the Master said it would: Judas will betray Him and Peter will deny Him. The people will hand Him over to be crucified. It will seem, for a time, that He wasn’t God after all– and not even a man, but a worm. But He will still be God.
They brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over its back, and Jesus sat in a place where no man had ever sat before. And so He will do again, awhile from now, after the wedding feast is consummated and He rises from the dead, after He eats with His disciples and tells them the good news. Then He will return to His father and sit on the Throne of God, where no man has ever sat. Worthy is He to sit where no man has ever sat before, to unseal the scroll that no man has ever unsealed, to open the door that was shut since the first man left Eden. Worthy is the Lamb to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor and glory and praise.
A few days from now, though, something different will happen. A few days from now, He will go to a place where God has never gone before. God is everywhere present and filling all things, but this is the historic moment in time when God Who is immortal will die. He will descend into hell, into the horrible abscess that was created when the rebellious angels turned away from God, the abscess that is created again whenever we turn away. God will enter the place where people flee from God. And He will still be God.
Jesus rode the colt into Jerusalem. A long time ago, His illustrious ancestor David came triumphant into Jerusalem, after conquering the ancestral enemies of the Israelites. David came into the city to the sound of music and celebration, dancing with all his might before the Ark of the Covenant, a thing so sacred that any man who touched it for any reason would die. A short time from now, all the people together, the Jews and the Gentiles, the oppressed and their oppressors, will lay hands on God Himself, and torture and abuse and murder Him. Instead of killing them, God will use their act of sacrilege to open the wellspring of eternal life.
When David danced before the ark, wearing nothing but an ephod, his wife despised him for taking of his warrior’s clothes and cantering about like a fool. David never visited that wife again. When God descended from Heaven to earth and rode into Jerusalem, His bride– us, human souls, all of us the Bride of Christ– welcomed Him with “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord!”
A few days from now, we will despise Him again, and run Him out of Jerusalem, torn up and bleeding and bearing the Cross. He will be lifted up from the Earth, and gather His bride to Himself, and give us every good and perfect thing that is His, and consummate His marriage with perfect love and gentleness as if we had been good to Him.
Today, everything looks and sounds the way it should. Today, we cry out, “Peace in Heaven and Glory in the Highest!” and no one can rebuke us. The very stones would sing the Master’s glory if we were silent, but there isn’t any need of that today. Before long, the stone walls of the praetorium will echo with the cries of the people, “Crucify Him!” Jesus, Himself the rock in whom we take refuge, will be silent in His own defense. The stones and sand on Calvary will be drenched in the Blood of Christ. A stone will be rolled over the door to His tomb, and everything will seem hopeless, for a time. And then the earth will quake, and the stone will be rolled away.
For now, we taste the hope.
For now, we sing the triumphant song.
Today, the Lord enters Jerusalem, and the Passion of Christ begins.