Caught Up in the Crowd

Read Luke 19.28-40

As Jesus enters Jerusalem and the crowd begins to form, the great celebration begins. What is it that draws the crowd? Some may be looking for a healing. We know that throughout his ministry, Jesus faced crowds that were pressing in on him to receive the strength of his healing grace. 

But most, I suspect, were caught up in the spirit of the day, hoping that this entry meant that the Messiah had arrived and the days of Roman rule were numbered. They were looking to Jesus as a great political leader, one who could lead the people into power. Even if he is riding a colt, look at how the people are drawn to him!

As I read through the story in Luke this week about Jesus entry into Jerusalem, I was caught up in the sights and sounds the text contains. I began to wonder how someone there might describe the events. I let my mind wander into the text and wrote this piece I’d like to share with you from the perspective of a fellow caught up in the crowd. Imagine yourself in first-century Jerusalem, a part of the crowd that day as I share this with you.

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There was quite a stir near the Mount of Olives today. I was traveling along the path to Jerusalem, weary from my travels, thinking about my trade business and how things have gotten better since I opened a booth near the temple. In the distance, I noticed a crowd starting to form. At first there was just a handful, maybe 10 or 12. They were following someone on a colt, or a donkey, I couldn’t quite tell. I hurried along, thinking I might unload some religious relics.

As I approached the crowd, I could hear the singing. People were taking off their cloaks, spreading them along the road and shouting, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” Could this be Herod? But why would Herod be riding a colt? What sort of king is this? Certainly a strong man, to keep that colt moving forward with all those people crowding in on him.

I asked someone who this man was and they told me his name was Jesus and he was a prophet from Nazareth, that he had been traveling the countryside healing the sick and talking about the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God? What sort of kingdom is that? Is he some sort of revolutionary, I asked? The fellow responded, “Some believe he is. Some believe him to be the promised Messiah, the one sent by God to establish God’s reign on earth.”

I looked up to the man on the colt. The crowd continued to shout, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” Again I wondered what sort of king is this? I looked at his face and saw a simple man, with rugged features, a man well traveled. He looked more like a peasant than a king. I looked in his eyes and saw a calm, a peace that I’d not seen before. As the crowd pressed in around him, shouting and signing, he seemed to look straight ahead as if he were focusing on something in the distance. A vision. Maybe a vision from God. This prophet, a king? What sort of king? It seemed to me this parade was little more than a farce, people just having a good time, making fun of the processions that Herod, the real king, would have.

And then I heard a voice from the crowd. Some religious leaders, who looked disturbed by the singing and shouting called out to Jesus, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop!” There was a pause as everyone waited for his response. He answered them, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

To hear his voice was something. He spoke with authority. The complaints of the religious leaders didn’t seem to phase him. He answered them and continued to ride into Jerusalem, looking straight ahead, with shouts all around him, “Blessed is the king, who comes in the name of the LORD!”

Now I’ve never been a religious sort, but I have to admit this Jesus is something special. If he is the Messiah, the one promised by God, you’d never know it just to look at him. Still, there is that look, that gaze, that voice. Some say he is nothing more than a false prophet trying to stir up trouble. I don’t know what to think, but something stirred inside me and without thinking, I grabbed my cloak and laid it down and joined in the singing, “Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.”

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