“The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, ‘Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!’ ” (John 12:12-15 ESV)
I’ve always appreciated the traditional Palm Sunday Gospel reading from John 12. Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem creates for me a tangible sense of the Church entering Holy Week. It’s like we’re following Jesus into Jerusalem with the crowd that welcomed Him.
Jesus entrance also sets up His demonstration of humility during His passion. Jesus’ kingship is seen on Palm Sunday. He’s entering Jerusalem, the city of kings. They crowd is waving palm branches, another sign of royalty. Just in case we missed the symbology, the crowd is yelling, “Blessed is he comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.”
Jesus may well have foreshadowed His demonstration of humility by riding on a donkey’s colt, since we think the civil kings were riding horses at the time. Even so, His humility was clear soon enough. On Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, we will be reminded of how Jesus subjugated himself to arrest, ridicule and abuse, placing our need for forgiveness of sins above our own. On Easter, we will celebrate again His resurrection, the proof that Jesus earned the forgiveness of sins for the world.
This year, we have a unique opportunity to emulate Jesus’ humility with Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. We have the chance to place the needs of others above our own, by worshipping through video or live streamed services. We can place needs of members who are greater risk for COVID-19 above our own. We can place the needs of our communities over our own, to protect them from the sinful effects of this fallen world.
While this expression of humility is unique this year, as Christians humility is part of the character Christ forms within us. We are told this in Philippians 2:5–11
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11 ESV)
May our Lord bless and strengthen you throughout the remainder of Holy Week and Easter.