As Jesus rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” Luke 19:36-40
There is word that the streets of Jerusalem are abuzz with talk of Jesus being their new king. Finally, after three years of toiling and teaching among the sick and the wounded, the needy and the nosy in the small towns of Galilee—it’s time for Jerusalem—the City of Kings. The City of Peace.
Jesus is out ahead several yards riding on the back of a young donkey. He is looking quietly at this city on a hill, just as many had looked on it with awe as they made their Passover pilgrimages for hundreds of years. “If only you knew,” he says to no one in particular. “If only you knew, Jerusalem, the things that make for peace. If only you knew that this was the time for your visitation from God.” And looking back at his disciples, primping and posturing for their triumphant entrance, he says again, “If only you knew.”
You and I already know that Jesus is not about to live happily ever after, and that no one in power is about to yield their throne. We know that teeming below the surface of this joyful celebration there is a poisonous mass of political and religious intrigue. The powers that be are scared senseless by the power of Jesus and the wheels have been set in motion for his betrayal and death. For a few moments, Jerusalem is a little bit of heaven as it welcomes Jesus and his primping disciples with open arms. But in a few short days, all hell will break loose and the powers of darkness will burst forth from beneath the surface to take his life. Gone will be the palms and the pageantry. Gone will be the adoring crowds. Gone will be even the disciples and his closest friends. He will die alone among strangers and enemies. Something is terribly, terribly wrong in God’s world, and only an act of God could change it. That act of God is humanity’s greatest hope.
The awesome thing about hope is that no matter what it encounters in and around us—it digs deeper, stretches higher, and surrounds any challenge with the strong, welcoming embrace of Christ’s love. It is ours to keep, to nourish, cherish and share. It is what Jesus knows as he rides at the head of that parade into Jerusalem. It is what makes Him our King. It is what makes Him our Savior. It is what makes us God’s own.