Thoughts on the Word:
After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?” just say this: “The Lord needs it.” ’ So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ They said, ‘The Lord needs it.’ Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,
‘Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!’
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.’
Today we begin Holy Week with our remembrance of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem. As we recall this event when Jesus came into the city at the start of the week, it is important that we have this moment of triumph placed into some perspective. On the first day of the week Jesus enters Jerusalem, welcomed as a King and saviour. By the fourth day he is betrayed and arrested, on the 5th he is executed as a criminal, when the people choose to release Barabbas, a convicted criminal, rather than the man they had welcomed as King days before. At the beginning of the next week though we see the King of Kings back in his place of glory as he rises from the dead - forever conquering death.
This story says much about how people respond to God's call. It is important that we are honest about our response to God and ask ourselves some serious questions. Where are you in the story of Jesus final week? Are you one of the jubilant crowd who welcomes the King of Kings, and sings his praises - only to quickly join the crowd when things get tough and shout 'crucify him!'
Are you a Judas? Do you proudly proclaim yourself a follower of Christ, only to betray him through your actions? Judas was one who kept up the appearance of a follower, if he was a modern day Christian, he would be a 'Sunday morning Christian'. One who went to church each week, but did nothing to implement the Gospel into their lives outside of turning up to Church on Sunday morning. You are a betrayer of Christ if you claim him as your saviour but refuse to live the way he calls you to.
Are you a Peter? Who declares your unfailing faith and love for Christ, but runs away and hides, while denying him when your faith might cost you something? Are you open about your faith? Do you take strong faith and moral stances openly among your friends, family and colleagues? Or do you hide your faith by keeping silent? Would you be open about your faith if it meant ridicule? What if it meant losing friends? or losing your job? What if it meant losing your life...?
Finally are you one of the very rare few who are like Mary or John, who through it all followed Christ all the way, so that they were standing at the foot of the cross when he died. Is yours a faith with this sort of strength? A faith that perseveres, that holds on through all the temptations, persecutions, loss and dangers of life.
There are very very few genuine Marys and Johns. Most of us, I think fall into the category of being Peters. We are adamant about our strength of faith, while we are among the faithful. However we tend to go silent when in the world. When our own lives may be affected by our faith - even if it means something as little as being laughed at - we go silent, we effectively deny Christ, just as Peter did.
As we move through Holy Week, I ask that you examine your own life and your own faith, and determine where you are in the crowd of people around Jesus as he entered Jerusalem. Wherever you find yourself, seek to better emulate the faith demonstrated by Mary and John - and if you already think of yourself as a Mary or John, well done, but remember Peter also genuinely believed he was prepared to go anywhere and do anything for his faith - until it was truly tested. Therefore, do not be complacent, but seek all the more fervently to follow Him.
I pray that God will bless you this week,