Into the Mess: A Holy Week Meditation

This year during Holy Week, we asked our friend, Joe Gibbes, to write daily meditations on this particular time in the life of our Savior. In these meditations, we wanted to offer something to the Rooted community that has no direct practical value in terms of parenting or youth ministry, but instead points our readers straight to the Word of Life as Jesus makes his final march toward the cross on our behalf. We hope this series is deeply edifying, that it would minister to your own soul as we look toward Easter morning.

Crowds shouted ‘Hosanna!’, people eagerly crafted a royal processional carpet out of clothes and leafy palms, the heralded teacher was fulfilling Zechariah’s ancient prophecy, “Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). What a scene it must have been, excitement filling the air as the joyful throng brimmed with hope and expectation. Surely Jesus’ disciples felt that everything was finally coming together.

In that glorious moment at the beginning of the week, how could they possibly have anticipated all that the week would hold?

Matthew tells us that “when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying ‘Who is this?” (Matthew 21:10).  This is the question for Holy Week – Who is this?

You may know the answers already – this is Jesus, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, the eternal agent of Creation, born of a virgin… And yet Holy Week is a perfect time to sit with this question again. To me, right now, devotionally speaking, given the focus of my heart’s trust and the whirlwind of activity in my life, ‘Who is this – really?’

There is surely much to contemplate in the juxtaposition of the joyful crowd that welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem at the beginning of the week, with the murderous crowd that sent him to Golgotha at the end of the week. Many Palm Sunday pulpits spent time yesterday pondering these two crowds, and how we find ourselves in both. We will do well this week to identify where our hearts cry, ‘Crucify Him!’

Still, there is one element of this Holy Week entrance that is often overlooked. It should seem obvious, but it’s not – we miss it in the roars of the crowds. In order to answer anew the important question ‘Who is this?’ we must look to the target of Jesus’ journey: Jerusalem.

Within those stone city walls was a stronghold of religious activity. It was the place that should have heralded Jesus as the Christ, in fact it was created to herald Jesus as the Christ, and yet they rejected him wholesale and put him to death. And yet Jesus, the king of ages, humble and mounted on a donkey, rode right through the religious façade and into the bramble bush of fear, greed, misconduct, and misappropriated power; he rode right in to fight the battle for all humanity. The disciples may not have known what awaited them that week, but Jesus certainly did. And he rode right toward it.

Jerusalem is much like our hearts, if we are honest about it. Created to laud Jesus as King and Christ, yet encased behind stony walls more often than we’d like to admit, we reject him in ways too numerous to count. Though we shout Hosanna and have calendars full of religious activity, we rightly find ourselves in Pilate’s courtyard on Friday morning. Jesus knows this, and still he rides in with unflinching determination. It will mean his death, but it’s what he came for.  He came to save, He came for you. And much like Jerusalem, his target is your heart.

This week, as we make our way towards Golgotha, let us be stirred up with all Jerusalem; let us ask again ‘Who is this?’; and let us fling wide the gates of our hearts and let him ride into the mess.

Tune in tomorrow on to read Day 2 of Holy Week Meditations.

Joe Gibbes is the Rector of the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour in Jacksonville, FL.  He and his wife Amy have been married for 20 years, but they don’t feel as old as that makes them sound.  They have 3 beautiful children who give Joe every opportunity to pray without ceasing.

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