This is Seth Horrell’s final message as our interim preacher, looking at Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem during Holy Week, from Matthew 21:1-11.
Seth told a story about his sister’s friends giving her a parade on her birthday, five friends, at UVA, walking across campus with loud music from a boom box, on a wagon, complete with t-shirts marking the occasion.
In our story in the life of Jesus, he comes to Jerusalem for the annual Passover pilgrimage; he has his parade yet it is filled with hints of things to come later in the week. The population of the city more than doubles, so with a huge crowd, it’s like a flash mob breaks out.
Palm branches, and laying coats on the road, perhaps like Sir Walter Raleigh laying down his coat over the mud so the queen could pass without getting dirty.
The people have a new hope that this son of David would set up his new kingdom. But the people ask the question, “who is this?” The literal answer is Jesus, not the preacher from Galilee but Yeshua would would be the savior or deliverer of God’s people. It is not so simple, because the people expected a different type of deliverer.
On the east of town, Jesus rides into the city on a lowly donkey, while likely on the west side of town Pilate made a grand, military entrance on a war horse, returning from his fortress on the coast. Such a contrast. The people eventually fall away, and rather than a royal throne, Jesus ends up on a Roman cross.
This cross was a stumbling block to the Jews and an offense. Just like then, Jesus calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him. Many people withdraw because Jesus demands so much. Paul tells us this cross is the power of God to bring salvation. It is through dying that we truly live (Galatians 2:20).
We often miss the cross and go straight to Easter morning, but we cannot separate the two. The theology of the cross is the way of submission and obedience, even when it is not popular of comfortable. The theology of glory we find at Easter is best understood on the other side of Christ’s agony.
What does the cross say to our family habits, our conduct at work? The way of the cross vs. the way of the war horse. Victory goes through the cross, not chemical weapons and cruise missiles.