St. Luke.jpg

Pass Right Through

Luke 19:29-40

The Rev. Jon Roberts

28 March

2010

Good Shepherd Episcopal Church

Venice, FL

When he drew near to Beth′phage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village opposite, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat; untie it and bring it here. If any one asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this, ‘The Lord has need of it.’” So those who were sent went away and found it as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their garments on the colt they set Jesus upon it. And as he rode along, they spread their garments on the road. As he was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works 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!” And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

The Donkey Walk of tsar Alexis, Vyacheslav Grigorevich Schwarz, Russian Orthodox, 1865.

Pass through the gate. Pass right through.
Process along without grief or hate
With the one who is sent to triumph over you.
He who comes in the name of the Lord,
Is the King who rides upon a horse,
Pressing down upon palms
His path is one of joy not remorse.[1]

On Palm Sunday we process along with our King. He must be a King. Look at how many follow him as he descends from the Mount of Olives. We walk out of the gate to get a closer look. Someone is handing out palm leafs for the big welcome. "We've been waiting a long time for this", someone says. He is getting nearer now. The crowd is growing to get a better look. Ah, it's not a full fledged horse, it's only a colt. It's never been broken. Probably not the best choice, but it's close enough. At least it's white. That's the color of the horse the Roman Pilate rode into Jerusalem. He's probably going to march with us right up to Pilate's house. When we get there he'll get so scared he'll have to leave. Let's wave our palms. Let's make a big scene. We've been waiting for this moment a long time. The narrative of the Passion Gospel is certainly one we have anticipated.[2] We have followed the pericopes throughout Epiphany and Lent. Those moral truths found in the likes of the prodigal son, the owner of the vineyard and more. But this is the one story that the early Christians held out for the end of their oral tradition. They kept the best for last.

From the sea of Galilee to the Mt. of Olives they walked alongside their teacher. It never dawned on them that they would be caught up in the pomp of a triumphal entry when they returned to the capital for the Passover. They knew he was vastly popular but they could not believe their eyes. There was literally a sea of swaying palms, held in the thousands upon thousands of hands. Hands that were old and young. Hands of all nationality. People all around crowded in to get a better look sometimes pushing them out of the way. "Good grief, give the man some room why don't you" perhaps was heard coming from one of the disciples. Everyone imagined he would take the city by force. He would go right up to Pilate and make him leave with all his soldiers. Then he would be crowned and sit on the throne. But as he passes through the gate, he does not go there. He takes his time. He looks at each person and reaches to touch those who want to be touched. He takes an occasional flower perhaps. Slow and easy. "Where are you going", I ask. "Pilate's house is that way". He doesn't listen. I'm not sure I want to wave my palm so high or so fast anymore. For a king, he sure doesn't know where he's going. Perhaps tomorrow he'll take action. Maybe he's waiting until after the Feast of the Unleavened Bread. Timing is everything. Just a few thoughts perhaps of the crowd. Adults who grieved over things such as the latest taxes or hated to see what was going on in the government wanted swift action. They didn't get it on that day. All they saw was a man riding a miniature white horse and a whole bunch of people waiving palms in the air as if he were some kind of king. The real king still sits on his throne right up there in the palace and makes life miserable for the rest of us.

​It's interesting how one moment we can shout "Hosanna" and then in another "Crucify him". It's interesting how we can relate with one who pledges their complete and whole-hearted loyalty, and then with another who betrays. It's amazing how often one moment we have grief or hate and then in another how we are overcome with joy. It's frightening how a man so humble, fit to be king will be given a crown of thorns and raised up on his throne, the cross.

Do you have the patience to take this walk together, knowing what lies ahead? There is a gate before you as you begin your entrance into Holy Week. You will join the crowd to get a closer look. Someone may hand you a palm and you will have to decide if this man is truly the "King" of your life. If you say "Hosanna" it is because you see him look back at you and know he loves you. If you say "Crucify him" it is because you see yourself as someone unfit to be loved.

Pass through the gate.
Pass right through.
Process along without grief or hate
With the one who is sent to triumph over you.
He who comes in the name of the Lord,
Is the King who rides upon a horse,
Pressing down upon palms
His path is one of joy not remorse.

[1] The Rev. Jon Roberts
[2] Luke 19:29-40

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