Joining the Pilgrims on the Way to Jerusalem

For most Christians observing Lent, Holy Week marks the height of the drama of the Christian year. The pilgrims who have made the long journey through Lent look on in awe as they pray and sing through the triumphal entry, the institution of the Lord’s Supper and the washing of the disciples’ feet, the trial and crucifixion, and the pregnant Sabbath pause before the Resurrection. They eagerly await the kindling of the new fire on Sunday morning. It’s exciting and profound — and it should be.

But it can be easy for those of us who serve those pilgrims to lose a little of that wonder and excitement in the midst of planning worship services and writing sermons. It’s such a busy time — and even a knowledge of the importance of these days can alienate us by adding extra stress — the feeling that we have to “get it right.”

We urge you to take some quiet time to join the pilgrims and rest your eyes on the extravagant love of God displayed through Jesus during his final week in Jerusalem before Easter.

 

Meditations for Holy Week

To that end, we are doing something new through our blog. TPW contributor Scott Bullock has written short meditations on scriptures for every day of Holy Week: from Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday. We are posting his Palm Sunday meditation today. The rest of the meditations will be posted on the blog every day during Holy Week, starting on Monday (3/25). Each meditation includes a brief reflection, a question to ponder, and a prayer. 

If you would prefer to download these meditations ahead of time, you can do so here.

Palm Sunday | Mark 11:1-11 | A Different Kind of Triumph placed over van Duck's Christ's Entry into Jerusalem

Reflection

Most of us are familiar with the words attributed to the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar, “Veni, Vidi, Vici.” I came. I saw. I conquered. That is the way of imperial rulers in their conquestorial pursuits. Earthly kings enter a city with great fanfare, military bravado, and a ruthless intent. They ride in on mighty steeds⸺Arabian, Andalusian, and Abrams⸺and attire themselves with armor and weaponry. They come to kill and destroy all who would obstruct their path to victory. 

The way of Jesus is different. 

He enters the city of Jerusalem on a beast of burden, a common donkey used to haul everyday goods. His entrance is humble. He comes, he sees, and he is conquered by the very people he wishes to liberate. Far from ruthless, his first act upon arrival is to weep over a city who knows not the time of its visitation. His “triumphal” entry meets the twist of irony in his crown of thorns and throne of execution. And those who worshiped his grand arrival and pledged him fealty, even those nearest to him, fall away. 

Question

What do you make of this type of “kingly” arrival and how does it shape your own life of faith and ministry? 

Prayer

Lord, you know the pride of our hearts. We are ready to follow those who enter with force and fanfare. We highly esteem the valiant warrior and conquering king. We pledge allegiance to the deft diplomat and pragmatic politician. The humble arrival of Jesus looks like none of these. Yet, may we see the glory of meekness in his lowly ride, the triumph of empathy in his mournful tears, for the king of the universe has come to liberate our hearts from their deceit. Amen.

 

Scott Bullock is a Board Member and Contributor with The Pastors Workshop. He is an ordained Presbyterian minister who has served churches in Illinois, New Jersey, and California. He holds an MA in New Testament Studies from Wheaton College, an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a ThM in New Testament from Princeton Theological Seminary. Scott is married with three teen-aged children.

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