Jesus arrives at Jerusalem; the people following him have grown to a throng of supporters, or, at least, supporters of their idea of who He is. His actions have given them some indication that He is claiming Kingship. In his Holiness Benedict XVI’s second volume on Jesus of Nazareth, concerning Holy Week, we see that Jesus’ choice of a donkey is full of Old Testament allusions to kingship. They put him on the donkey, they cover the donkey and the road with their clothes and branches, through their actions and the voices they are announcing ‘here comes the Messiah, the Savior of Israel’. ”Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ we hear them proclaim. It is He that will free God’s chosen ones from their oppressors. It is He that will vanquish the conqueror back to where they came from. It is He that will make Israel strong. We are a people united, and He is our leader. And they enter Jerusalem with their idea of the Messiah in the front.
Jesus arrives at His death.
– Earlier in the week people followed Him into Jerusalem; now they have abandoned Him, He is alone.
– Earlier in the week they put Him on a Donkey; now they have put Him on a Cross.
– Earlier in the week they laid their clothes before Him; now they have stripped Him of His clothes.
His followers who are horrified and feeling betrayed can’t see the plan; can’t understand yet, the victory that is unfolding right in front of them.
-Earlier in the week they proclaimed with their actions and words:’ here comes the Messiah, the Savior of Israel’; now here truly comes the Messiah, the Savior of Israel, indeed mankind.
-Earlier in the week they had grand dreams of vanquishing their conquerors. Now, He vanquishes the Accuser back to where he came from, Hell; Jesus is dealing death to death.
-Earlier in the week they anticipated being freed from their oppressors; now He will truly free us from our oppressions, self-inflicted.
In the midst of this seemingly ultimate failure of their Messiah He is making them strong. The night before He gave them His body to unite them; now He gives His body to save them. Now with His last act He shows total defeat and gains us total Victory. Everything is in place, and Satan has fallen into His own trap. Soon, he sees his mistake, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” exclaims a pagan, a Roman centurion – salvation comes one soul at a time.
What started out as raucous cheering and adulation from mankind, and snickering from Hell has turned into one long wail of defeat from He who is named ‘Light Bearer’; for the true sun has broken through death and given hope to mankind. Satan is stung and his attempt to stop God’s plan has failed – it can’t be stopped by even the death of God.
All of this happens as Christ’s followers hide and mourn for their loss, at least most of them; but not all. Nicodemus steps forward, Joseph of Arimathea steps forward, Simon of Cyrene is aware, Veronica is aware. The ember of faith glows brighter. Let’s stand beside those few who stood with Jesus to His victory. Let’s place our trust in He who in spite of how events may look, is strong and ever present. Let’s look past the shades of fear to the light of victory. Let’s strive to understand the true God and not our idea of who he is like. Let’s walk together with Christ, and each other, on the via Dolorosa to our tree of victory, our tree of life. Let us join the heavenly hosts and all of history in the praising Christ:
Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.