Summary: To some Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was triumphant. According to Philippians, it was an act of obedience by Jesus on his way to the cross.
Philippians 2:5-11 “Parade of Obedience”
[Picture of hag and beautiful lady] We can see by this image that though people look at the same image, they do not always see the same thing. Looking at this picture some of you will see an old hag, while others will see a beautiful lady. Even if you have seen this picture a number of times, you naturally focus on one of those images.
The story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is another one of these occasions when people view the same event, but see different things. For many of the people, they saw the entrance of a prophet. For the religious leaders, they saw an approaching threat. When Paul reflected on this event and the life of Jesus, he was a man being humbly obedient to his calling.
It is difficult to capture the celebration and irony in this scene. Jesus enters into Jerusalem triumphantly. He is seated on a donkey. The motley band of his disciples surrounds him. People along the road cheer him on—the Messiah—their hope for a return to the Golden Age of Israel. The parade displays a different kind of power than earthly strength.
Romans, who were victorious in battle and in subduing a people, entered the city in a similar manner. There were some significant differences, though. Roman victors would enter astride a white steed and not a donkey. They were surrounded by legions of soldiers—not by a rag tag band of disciples. People were forced to welcome the Romans, but they never called them the Messiah.
Paul in his letter to the Philippians reflected on the life of Christ. Those reflections cast a different light on this triumphal entry of Jesus.
• Though Jesus was God, he did not count equality with God a thing to grasp, but emptied himself.
• Jesus became human—one of us. He was fully human while at the same time totally God.
• As a man, Jesus was faithful and obedient to God the Father. The healing of the sick, casting out demons, stilling storms and feeding the crowds were all acts of obedience. This entry was an act of obedience as Jesus willingly journeys to the cross.
• Jesus’ obedience did not stop at his entry into Jerusalem. Jesus continued to be obedience even to his death—a death on the cross.
Roman generals and politicians were motivated by pride and power when they entered a city. The focus of their attention was on themselves; not on anyone else.
Jesus entered Jerusalem in love. His focus was on God and on the people of the world.
Jesus is the incarnation of the love of the Father. God so loved the world …
Jesus also loved the people for whom he came to die. Though he knew the crowd that welcomed him that Sunday morning would cry out for his crucifixion in a couple of days, Jesus still loved them.
Jesus was not forced to travel this path, but rather he chose it willingly. Jesus’ life was not taken from him. Jesus offered his life as a ransom for many. All that Jesus did was an act of love.
As we journey through Holy Week and think about the events of that week, we cannot help but be awed and overwhelmed at the depth and steadfastness of Jesus’ love and of God’s commitment to his creation.