The Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem
In the gospel narrative of St, Matthew we read, "Now this took place that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying `Say to the daughter of Sion, behold your king is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden' Zechariah 9: 9. And the disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them and brought the donkey and the colt and laid on them their garments, on which he sat" Matthew 21: 5, 6.
He comes among us to announce himself as our Saviour, if we did not grasp it before. He wishes there is no confusion but discerns it in their voices as they yell out greetings which will soon fade and be forgotten. They are right when they sing together in unison, "Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, hosanna in the highest!" Matthew 21: 9. The disciples laid their garments on the donkey, then Jesus mounted it and heads for Jerusalem. His eyes are set toward the temple which is a symbol of his entire life. Look at the multitudes, casting down on the streets their own garments and branches, making a makeshift emergency type royal carpet.
You can almost hear the shouting getting louder as the crowd repeats: "Hosanna! Hosanna! To the king; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
He enters triumphantly the city and visitors fall in with the local crowd, saying "Who is this Man? Is He not the miracle worker? Is this not the one who raised Lazarus yesterday? Can He not open blind eyes and deaf ears and can He not make cripples whole again? By his mere touch hemorrhages are healed!"
But look at his face! Now it seems He does not even once stop to touch a blind eye or a deaf ear! He is not performing any sign or miracle now! It would appear He does not even notice those people in need. He does not even glance at the children He so loves! We hear no word of kindness to the passing widows so near to his heart!
Yes, Jesus is pre-occupied! He does not look right or left because He is so serious. Does He have an angry look? Is that a furrowed brow we notice? It seems He is on a mission, an appointment in his Father's house. But yet, He has always been on a mission from the Father, wherever He went. Finally, the donkey stops at the temple stairs and Jesus dismounts. He walks through the crowd, silent and determined. Isaiah tells us, "Behold your king is coming - gentle- and riding on the colt of a donkey" Isaiah 62: 11.
Today Jesus shows another attribute, actually the purpose for his coming among the Chosen People. The pageantry of this welcoming celebration cover up why He is among us. We stop as we join the city's citizens and visitors acclaim him because we think the lesson is already learned. Everyone is familiar with the events which occurred earlier in the day, but few bother to pursue the exciting story after his great welcome into the capital city. Otherwise they would witness a transformation. Now a fire blazes in his eyes; it is the holy jealousy of a jealous God. Perhaps He is pre-occupied with another, equally important Old Testament revelation, "For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God" Deuteronomy 4: 24.
There is another truth He must enunciate and make plain. He is not only their MessiahSaviour, but their Creator as well. They are his people, much as many would like to deny and disown any meaningful relationship on the highest level.
Jesus strides into the temple and something within him erupts. To the undiscerning eyes, it looks like a religious revival - the bustling crowds were thee. It was a scene of fervor's apparent religious activity. The prosperous multitudes were flocking to the tables - they were buying and selling. The baskets were bulging with money profits; the officials of the temple were exuberant; never had God been so popular - never had religious faith been more acceptable.
So we look again at the Lord, as if we took our eyes off him, and notice rather quickly that the zeal of God's house literally consumes him. They are his people and this is the place where the glory of God is made known. He stands there, weaving loose cords into a whip. In his prophetic eye, the prophet Isaiah witnesses this scene years before. Isaiah said about this moment, "And he put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; and He put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself with zeal as with a mantel. According to their deeds, so he will repay ... for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the Lord drives" Isaiah 59: 17 - 19.
He wishes them to understand they are created in the image of God; they have value in the sight of our heavenly Father. They are to worship as Chosen People in the temple. They are not to reduce themselves to mere worldlings. Theirs is a mission to the world which cannot be fulfilled unless they are filled with genuine faith. Immediately before their redemption takes place, He desires a turn around, a reconciliation. He manifests the plain truth that our God is jealous if we place our first loyalty and devotion elsewhere besides him. He desires to be first and foremost in our lives and He sues this most dramatic gesture to drive home the lesson.
The word zeal here in Hebrew means the jealousy of God! The jealousy of our heavenly Father consumes him. He wore that divine jealousy as a mantle and was clothed with it. Into that robbers' den Jesus comes - like a rushing stream, a torrent driven by the wind of God! What a commotion! The whip cracks - the tables are overturned - the doves are squawking - the lambs are loosed and bleat out from their pens - the oxen trample over the money boxes the merchants run in fear! The coins they received in trade are dispatched all over the floor, bouncing and making a sad music of their own even though they do not match the dance steps of those who flee. All they see is what looks like a madman going berserk.
"Out, Out!, Out! Enough! This is my Father's house. This is a house of prayer! You robbers! Thieves! You are turning this house into a den of thieves! Get out! Don't ever come back!"
That whip does not stop cracking until the last animal is gone, the last ox, the last dove flies away; all the merchants and all the religious thugs have disappeared!
When Jesus cleaned the temple, He again reached out to the needy! "And the blind and the lame came to him in that temple, and he healed them" Matthew 21: 14. Will we invite him into our hearts and souls so He can do the same for us?