Mark 11:1-11. Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. 5 And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 7 And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8 And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
11 And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
This trip has been three years in the making. It’s not Jesus’ first time travelling to Jerusalem, but it is by far the most important. It is Holy Week. The week of Jesus’ death and resurrection. But first it is the day of his majestic triumphal entry. Palm Sunday.
Jesus pulls a page straight out of Solomon’s book. He enters Jerusalem on a donkey just like Solomon did when he claimed the throne of Israel a thousand years earlier. Jesus gives it a twist though; it’s just a humble colt. Nevertheless, it’s a clear message – “I’m your king. I’m the Messiah.” The secret he’s been keeping for three years is now way out there for all to see. But what kind of king will he be? Will he restore Israel to power? Will he overthrow Rome. Everyone knows he can. He raised the dead for goodness sake. He fed thousands on a hillside. Think about how unstoppable his army would be. No running out of food and no dying. “Hosanna” they cry. “Save us.”
Palm Sunday by Kai Althoff
But Jesus didn’t come to conquer Rome. He came to conquer death, and sin. He came to conquer our hearts with his own life. He came to change us from the inside out, not the outside in.
We see it in verse 11. It’s almost comical. Jesus rides triumphantly into Jerusalem. Goes straight to the Temple. Looks around. Can you feel the suspense? Can you feel the tension building? But then Jesus looks at his watch, realizes it’s getting late and says, “OK boys let’s get to Bethany, we don’t want to be late for dinner.”
The home of the Simons: Simon, Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. Jesus’ home away from home. Jesus never slept in Jerusalem. Not until the night he died there. He always went to Bethany and stayed with his adopted family. The family who understood what Jesus was really up to. The family that never rejected him. The family that trusted him as their resurrection and life. The family that gave him a place to rest and pray. The family that served him and sat at his feet to be served by him. The family that anointed him for burial the day before. Bethany is where Jesus laughed, cried, healed, loved, and felt loved. It’s where he raised the dead. Bethany is where Jesus will go every night of Holy Week. Until his battle with Sin and Death on Friday and his own resurrection on Sunday.
We are Bethany.
Through our union with Christ, Jesus now resides in us, the church. His Bethany. The place for a humble king. Not the Temple. Not the palace. The place where Jesus finds refuge and strength until his glorious battle is our hearts. The place where the dead are raised is in you and me.
Jesus you found a place in Bethany. Today find a place in us. No need for us to wave palm branches. No cries of Hosanna. No expectations of political upheaval. Just capture our hearts once again. Let us sit at your feet Jesus, until God makes your enemies your footstool. Let us anoint you with our love. Let us find our life in your sacrifice. And may you find a refuge in our hearts. Amen.