While the world reels from the terrorist attacks in Brussels and tries to make sense of hate that could destroy so many lives, we move into the Easter and Passover season. I have, like many of you I’m sure, been saddened and shocked as we once again watch the problems our world faces. Who can bring love and order and peace and healing to these and other complicated circumstances?
To my many Jewish and Muslim girlfriends, indulge me while I turn to my own faith here to grapple with these thoughts and thank you for listening even if this isn’t the way you think but I was reading Matthew’s account of Jesus coming into Jerusalem for Passover in the Bible this week because it’s the Easter season and a couple of things stood out to me as though I had never read them before.
I didn’t remember that there was a MOTHER donkey AND her baby donkey colt. Matthew 21:7. To me, the donkey represents the burden of the world’s sin that Jesus would carry and the colt seems to be purity (untamed and never ridden). Jesus rode the colt.
It sounds like the mother donkey was there too walking along beside them or attached because it says they laid coats on both animals in Matthew. Have you ever stood in front of the Pieta? Was Mary symbolized there too? Bearing this burden of love with her child?
So moving but especially if you are a mom.
I’m a visual person so I started reading on and pictured the crowd creating the first ever red carpet for the rock star of their day who was healing the blind and the sick….they laid their coats down and cut branches creating a clean path for him to the Temple. Can you imagine letting a donkey trample on your coat? I’m thinking they probably didn’t have a closet full of them and weren’t just choosing the old ratty thing. What would make someone lay down their coat and branches? Do you think the coats represented their burdens? It was what was on their backs so I’m just thinking that this picture seems like people laying down their burdens at Jesus’ feet as He’s going by. No matter how you see it you can tell that they thought He was special. They thought he was really special.
I also didn’t remember the children. I didn’t remember the part about the children calling out “Hosanna to the Son of David.” I’m pretty sure the youth in this story represent purity and newness of life. We celebrate those ideas with eggs and bunnies and chicks.
So many things to catch in this story over and over. And yet the weight of it, the prophecy in the old testament throughout the story, the idea that God would love us so much that he would manifest in human form to then speak love and life to us and then carry the sin of the world through to his crucifixion and death is mind boggling.
Why? Was this just a random act of crowd hate and political unrest of the time? Public executions surely did create fear and control the people but in Jesus’ case he was not a criminal but a political threat. Jesus knew this and yet allowed himself to be caught and taken and punished this way. Why not run? Hide in the hills? It says in John 15 He tells his disciples that this crusifixion will happen so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded me. God was in control. God was allowing this because Jesus was born for this very thing. To die on a tree to bring new life.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
He was there to be the conduit for all of us back to a Holy, perfect and loving God.
He rode the donkey. He wore the thorns. He took the spit and the jeers and the nails. He carried all the junk and funk and mistakes all the way to death for us. And if that wasn’t enough, He broke through death for us to be able to be reunited with our God in Glory too.
The release of the my own burdens to Him is better than any other worldly healing I know of. If we allow it, we too can be lifted out of brokenness and into the freedom of new life with Jesus because “He is risen”.
No wonder there are so many fabulous paintings, amazingly gorgeous churches and stained glass windows and hymns and stories and poetry and martyrs throughout history. It’s the most significant human moment in history and time. It’s the ultimate gift and sharing it is the ultimate pay it forward of love to others. Now, in this time of hate and terrorist recruiting…..I would venture it’s time for some love recruiting and some healing and hope.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” Jesus says, John 14:27 His peace is the deepest form of stillness and peace I know.
Lay down your coats my friends, a King is rising.
Have a blessed Passover and Easter! You are loved by an amazing God!