We probably all have a lot of questions to which we don't find answers in the Gospels: ''What was the life of Jesus like before the age of thirty?'' is one very interesting one and ''Why did Judas Iscariot betray Jesus?'' is another. This passage may well provide some kind of answer to the second of those questions. We can be certain that Jesus's actions as described here would have put His disciples into even greater confusion. ''Didn't He tell us He was going to Jerusalem to suffer and die?'' ''Didn't He emphatically tell us that we should live lives of servanthood, putting others first?'' The parade into Jerusalem sits as potentially one of the greatest anomalies in the Gospels. Let's look in more detail: Firstly, it would have been clear to His disciples that Jesus envisaged this as a sacred pilgrimage and one long planned. The colt brought to Him had never been ridden before and so was suitable to be used for a sacred purpose. When Jesus mounted on it and rode along the main road into the City of God, it was perfectly understandable that the onlookers-and there would have been huge numbers as Passover drew near-misunderstood His intentions. 150 years previously, Simon Maccabaeus had entered Jerusalem in a very similar way after defeating Antiochus, the King of Syria, in battle. The crowds gave Jesus the welcome of a conqueror and this He was, but not in any way as they supposed! Jesus had claimed to be the Messiah, but in such a way as to try to show that the popular ideas of the Messiah were misguided. But the crowds did not see it that way! Their cry to God was for deliverance now that the Messiah had come. At the very last, Jesus made it plain by His actions that He was the Messiah and the crowds worshipped Him as such, but the sad irony was that the idea of an all-conquering Messiah was so fixed in their minds that they did not have the capacity to see that there were huge differences between Jesus the Messiah and their concept of who the Messiah was to be like!. Jesus courageously and in a spirit of love was seeking to tear up the roots of the nationalistic dreams of the Jews and He was to pay the price, both in Judas's betrayal and in the desire of the crowd to see Him crucified when the opportunity was given to them to free Him. This passage still startles me. It demonstrates to me both the great courage of Jesus and His recognition that He was soon to die and the message that He was the Messiah needed to be carved into the minds of those who were open to that.
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