Summary: We have great potential. We are God’s children, empowered by the Holy Spirit, equiped with specific gifts and talents to change the world (one life at a time) for Jesus Christ.
I’m not a fan of class “B” slasher films. I don’t like the blood and gore, but I have to laugh at the unimaginative scenario that they have for eliminating many of the innocent characters. Usually it is a dark and stormy night. A teenager, or several teenagers, is in the living room, munching popcorn and swigging sodas while watching a horror film. Suddenly an evil presence if felt. Instead of calling the police, or acting as a group, one of the characters will get up and head toward the basement or upstairs. They seem to be drawn by some powerful force to their doom. The audience wants to cry out, “No, don’t go down in to the basement! You’re going to get killed!” The character doesn’t hear the audience and marches to their doom.
Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem seems eerily similar to this scenario. The crowd is going wild in their praise—they don’t know what lies ahead. We know that the cross casts its shadow on this scene, though. We know that in four days Jesus will be betrayed. The same crowd that cheers him now will shout “Crucify him!” by the end of the week, and on Friday Jesus will be executed. Like the crowd in the movie theater or those sitting in front of their TV, we want to shout, “Run, Jesus, run! Don’t go to Jerusalem and die! Save yourself!”
Jesus moves forward and enters in to Jerusalem and toward certain death. Unlike the class “B” movies, though, he is not drawn by some evil force to his demise. Rather, he is driven by his great love to his sacrificial death.
THE FUTURE FORETOLD
The gospel writers take great pains to pains to point out that Jesus was not lured to the cross. Nor was Jesus trapped by scheming religious leaders, or forced on the cross against his will. Jesus went willingly.
When he sends two disciples to get a donkey, Jesus reveals that he know what lies ahead. He tells the disciples what will happen. They will find a donkey and a colt tied up. When they untie them, a person will ask what they are doing. They will reply with a password and be allowed to take the animals. Jesus knows what is going to happen in the future.
Jesus displays is divinity throughout the gospels is service to others. He frees them from sin, heals their sicknesses, feeds them and casts out the demons that possess them. He walks on water and stills a storm to save the disciples from certain drowning. In only a couple of other instances does Jesus reveal that he can see into the future. Jesus is not surprised, nor is he caught off guard as he heads toward the cross.
Jesus’ willingness to do what needs to be done and to be faithful and obedient to God the Father is seen later in the Passion story in the Garden of Gethsemane. In the garden, he is very aware of what lays ahead. He doesn’t want to endure the suffering, and he asks that this task be taken away from him. Before he is arrested, though, he has made the decision and uttered those fateful words, “Not my will, but thine be done.”
Not only is Jesus driven by love to the cross, and goes willingly because of his great love, but the gospel writers, especially Matthew, want to point out that this is all according to God’s divine plan. It is not plan “B.” It is plan “A.”
Matthew cites a passage from one of the prophets that refers to the Messiah entering Jerusalem on a donkey. Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy. This isn’t the only prophecy that Jesus fulfilled, either. Over and over again throughout his ministry Jesus did what the prophets had foretold.
Throughout history, even during the messes of life, (which are most of the time) God’s will has being worked out. The world and the people of the world were headed toward God’s desired future. God’s love is finding its fulfillment.
We might debate the extent to which God controls destiny—does it include parking spaces, or is it limited to wars, famines and “acts of God”? We all affirm that in one way or another God is active in our world, in our history, and that God will is being carried out and fulfilled. Jesus is fulfilling his destiny.
Like Jesus, we too have a destiny. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called by our baptism to die to self and live for Jesus. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit and sent out to be Jesus witnesses of God’s grace to the ends of the earth.
Ephesians speaks the truth that we have been saved by grace through faith. We have been saved for good works that God has planned for us ahead of time. We are part of God’s plan to bring salvation to the world, to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to those around us in word and deed, and to invite them to join us in worship, mission and participation in God’s kingdom.