Entrance Into Jerusalem
For centuries, followers of Jesus Christ have considered with awe, silence, prayer and renewed commitment his final days. The culmination of his suffering moves us to tears and to intense action. We cherish his last words' we meditate on the hours leading to the Cross and we certainly contemplate that rugged instrument of torture as a precious object because it measures the immeasurable. No matter how incredibly large we may imagine God's love to be, the cross shows us his love is larger still.
During his last week, Jesus taught, He argued, He cried out, He answered questions, parried others and challenged both enemies and friends with truth. He stood before his accusers silent. He allowed himself to be crucified. He died and those who loved him as well as they knew how, buried his body in a traditional cave and mourned.
As we think about his passion, we come to realize it ends this week, but it is not totally contained within it. From the very time He was conceived in the womb of the Birthgiver, from the time of his physical birth in the flesh, He entered the life-long moment of his passion. It was present all the days of his earthly life, being limited by human flesh. That is why the existence of Christ's passion did not end with the moment his heart stopped beating, but even now in triumph and victory is marked with wounds we inflicted on him.
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" Mark 11: 9! The triumphal entry got so many things right but crucial things went wrong as well. Jesus receives a royal welcome for shortsighted reasons. Those who were eager to cut branches and spread their clothing on the roadway expected a lot from the Lord. And as we look upon the event, they did not at all expect enough. They wanted a king because of their hatred for Roman authority, but they desperately needed so much more.
The triumphal entry represents all of those clear moments when humanity expresses its strongest wishes for God to intervene, but disastrously mistakes it own purposes for those of God. How many so called leaders have maintained, "The voice of the people is the voice of God"? Today's feast teaches us to acknowledge Christ for who He is, not the product of our skewed values and imagination. We like to examine and look at today's events in our own way, to serve our own purpose. Our understanding of Jesus Christ has much to do with the way we see and understand the triumphal entry.
The Word was with God in the beginning and man, by his own explicit choosing, was subject to the pain of death. Human nature was not eternal and divine nature is not mortal. All the other attributes of the Lord are considered in the same way. It was not human nature that fed thousands, nor was it all powerful strength that hurried to the fig tree. Who was weary from the journey and who made the world exist by his word? What is the brightness of the glory and what was pierced with nails? What body was beaten in the Passion and what body is eternally glorified? This much is clear: that the blows belong to the servant who is the Lord and honor belongs to the Lord who became a servant for our sake. As a result, Christ's natures are unified and their respective attributes belong to both natures equally. Just as the Lord received the scars of the servant, the servant is glorified with the honor of the Lord. For this is why the cross is called the cross of the Lord of glory and why every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, to glory of the Father.
Our blessed Church teaches most richly in light of the Incarnation. But even in our human feelings we can observe God's greatness. For example, Jesus is wearied by his journey so that He can refresh the weary. He desires a drink when He is about to give spiritual water to the thirsty soul. He is hungry when he is about to supply the food of salvation to those who hunger for it. He dies to live again. He is buried to rise once more. He hangs on the dreadful cross to strengthen those live in dread. He veils the heavens with thick darkness so that He can impart light. He makes the earth shake so that He may make it strong. He rouses the sea so that He can calm it. He opens the tombs of the dead so that He can show they are the homes of the living. He is born of a virgin so that people can believe He is born of God. He pretends not to know so that He can make the ignorant know and understand. As a communicant of the chosen people, He worships so that the Son may be worshipped as true God.
The Word is made flesh so that the wisdom of God can come within reach of human beings. The expectation of the whole and entire truth about our heavenly Father is far beyond our comprehension. No creature can ever fully understand his Creator. But the Word, the Son of God, put on a humble, human form, so that infinite truth could be seen in finite terms.
In coming among us today, He humbles himself, coming down from heaven to the lowest human level. Those who will join him here - denying themselves, choosing and taking the low place - will be raised up with him to the height of heaven.
It isn't easy for man to stoop so low, or to abandon his self-confidence, but when he sees the divine Son lying, as it were, at his feet, wrapped in the clothes of human poverty, then his heart is moved and his pride is cured. And when we grow weary of trying to prove ourselves to each other, we may be ready to cast ourselves upon him. If not today, then most certainly at the cross!
And when we do, He who came down to where we are, raises us to where He is!