Monday, March 25, 2013

A Holy Week Reflection for March 25, 2013

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it.” . . . Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mark 11:1-2, 7-9)

The story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem and being hailed by the people is a familiar one. But I’ve often wondered about the part about Jesus insisting that the colt he was to ride upon be one that had never before been ridden.

Yesterday I visited a friend who is very ill. His condition is very serious and he is now under hospice care. I came straight from church and brought my copy of the order of service with me. I read some words to the songs we had sung that morning and also the texts of scripture. As I prepared to read this one, a thought occurred to me. My friend was about to take a journey that all humans must make, and they only make it once. It’s riding into the unknown on a colt that had never been ridden.

And Jesus, I told my friend, is riding with him.

Death had not occurred for Jesus yet, and it would only happen once. He, too, would ride into a place he had never been before. But his death was unique and he would journey as no one had before. Yes, others had suffered and died before him, even on harsh Roman crosses. But never before had someone in whom the fullness of God dwelt gone to his death. Never before had God embraced human death in the way he was about to do it in Jesus.

The writer to the Hebrews, in describing Jesus as the ultimate of all Jewish high priests, says it best:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.(Hebrews 4:15-16).

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