Liturgy of the Palms: The Gospel Passage – Following in Jesus’ footsteps, wherever they may lead

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.” (Matthew 21:1 – 3)

I am sitting here, late at night, pondering these verses from Matthew chapter 21. I am thinking also of the question I posed yesterday: how far should we take our emulating Jesus Christ? Set aside for a moment the fact that we are looking at one of the two Palm Sunday passages rather than the passages concerning the Passion of Christ. For they speak of one and the same Jesus Christ. Do we have the foresight to know what will happen, enough to say go to this place and avail yourself of such a thing using based on the the authority of our identity? Most likely not.

Perhaps, beloved reader, this is not the time either to consider to what extreme we should emulate Jesus Christ. But it is exactly the time (or a little earlier) that yesterday’s passage from Philippians was referring to. Should we set aside the question for a longer time? No, I think not.

“This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, “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.” (Verses 4 – 5)

Should we have been taking notes earlier in Jesus’ ministry as to what and how to emulate Jesus? Most likely.

“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!” (Verses 6 – 9)

In my reading of the bible, and the accounts of Jesus’ ministry, I always know that by this point the events have taken on a life of their own. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem so adorned, or unadorned as the prophecies take pains to point out, portents the end of the story. In mounting the donkey/colt, Jesus is taking one more step and large step to his crucifixion.

“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.” (Verses 10 – 11)

Whatever lessons in our living our lives that we were supposed to learn are over. Now we see how and to what lengths the Messiah is going to go in sealing and searing those lessons in our being. And that . . . . that extremism is a lesson in and of itself. Up to now it has been “be nice”, “do good things”, “turn the other cheek”, “think not of self but of others”, and other Christian adages and guidelines. But at this juncture and from this point on, it is a commitment to the way we are supposed to live. A commitment that must be kept no matter the consequences. And that, beloved reader, might just be what the writer of Philippians (Paul) had in mind. We are not Christ. We can try to follow in his footsteps, but at some point the “Divineness” of the gets beyond our abilities. But we can have the same commitment to living an authentic Christian life as the authentic Christ did. Selah!