He was studying Jesus, watching his every move. That was why they were here, wasn’t it? He and the contingent of Pharisees, elders, and experts in the law had been watching Jesus a long time. Yet, he still couldn’t figure him out. Who was this man? And whose side was he on? His peers had their opinions, widely varying from prophet, lunatic, political neophyte, religious adversary, and demon possessed. Jesus had them perplexed.
His gaze shifted to the crowd. Word spread rapidly that Jesus was back in the area, and his fans were out en masse to welcome his arrival. He couldn’t blame them. He was here too, trying to understand the mystery. The healings were unquestionable, so many witnesses to prove them real. Invalids were cured, dead brought back to life, storms quieted by Jesus’ words, and crowds fed by prayer and small lunch pail offerings.
The miracles were undeniable. And Jesus’ teaching was enlightened; his knowledge of the Scriptures surpassed the understanding of the experts. They tested him, questioned, posed hypothetical dilemmas and tried setting verbal traps, hoping to ensnare him with words and fictional plots. But Jesus escaped every time, unscathed.
So now they were watching Jesus. His every move monitored. They needed to know who he was, or more importantly, who he thought he was. Jesus was becoming dangerous, and they knew if he was not for them, then he was definitely against them.
The crowd kept growing. There was a festive spirit, and if his task was less serious he could have easily joined the merriment. Someone appeared with a young colt, led it to Jesus, and his disciples lifted him onto its back. The people were jubilant! As Jesus rode through the town they cheered, throwing down their coats before him, and waving branches in celebration. They were praising God and shouting, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
King? This was getting out of control. What would the Romans make of this hubbub? It put everyone at risk of Rome’s retribution. The Pharisees tried to rein in the chaos and said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” Jesus replied, “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” The crowd continued their praises, and the Pharisees knew, he knew, something had to be done about this, about Jesus. Jesus was a threat to them all. The contingent left. They had to regroup, and figure out how best to take care of the problem.
He turned to leave too, but as he did, he took one last look at Jesus. He fully expected to see victory in Jesus’ eyes. Wasn’t this what Jesus wanted? Didn’t this ruckus feed his crazed aspirations to be king? Yet Jesus’ eyes weren’t proud. Instead, Jesus was weeping.
As Jesus looked ahead at Jerusalem, and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
These were not the words of a conquering king, seeking power and glory. He looked away, continuing to ponder his initial question. Who was this man?
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. (Zechariah 9:9–10)
From Sara's new book, Everday Jesus: Ordinary Encounters with Extraordinary Jesus. Coming Soon.
Photos courtesy of pixabay.com