Mark 11:1-7

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’”

They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Mark 11:1-7

Every time I read this story, the preparation for what we celebrate as Palm Sunday, I immediately think of two things. Today, I’ll add a third.

First, I remember a story that Pastor Don Carlson once told about his time as a youth pastor in La Grange, TX. They were preparing for a summer youth trip and needed one more vehicle. A businessman in town had recently purchased a beautiful conversion van. The van was just what the kids from St. Paul Lutheran needed. But Don was very hesitant to ask for it. So he reached out to an older Presbyterian pastor, kind of his mentor, for advice. Don told him what he wanted and added that the owners of the van weren’t even members of his church.

Pastor McElroy told Pastor Carlson, “If you need it for the Lord’s work, don’t hesitate to ask. Never underestimate the generosity of people.” Don asked. He got the van. I’ll never forget the story.

The second thought is how Jesus’ entry on a colt is a not-so-subtle subversion of the garish splendor of Caesar’s victory parades into Rome. The soldiers. The spoils of war. The long line of newly captured slaves. Caesar riding a majestic warhorse. Jesus is the antithesis of Caesar.

Today I am noticing one more little detail. The disciples were to bring a colt that had “never been ridden.” What are we to make of that? Is Jesus going to be some kind of bronco buster before riding into town? Clearly not. So what does it mean?

Maybe it means that there had never been a king like Jesus. A person driven, not by his own personal glory or power, but truly driven by doing God’s will in the world. Truly driven by love – not love as a manipulative catch phrase that allows the masses to fill in the blanks of what that might possibly mean for them – but love that lands in healing, in accepting, in forgiving, in feeding, in setting the oppressed free.

There has never been a king like that. But there could be. It would take a king that models himself or herself after Jesus, rather than Caesar or Pontius Pilate.

Let us pray: King Jesus, may we not simply greet you with praise but follow you with purpose. Even as that path takes us through a cross. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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