Monday in Holy Week, April 15
John 12: 12-19
The King of Israel Comes to Jerusalem
I wonder how many times I have read this passage without realizing that the chief priests and Pharisees were plotting to not only kill Jesus, but Lazarus as well. Poor Lazarus, he had just been raised from the dead and now this.
Within the Roman Empire the Jewish people enjoyed a limited autonomy under their own authorities who feared this power could be taken away. Because the people were flocking to see them, Caiaphas had proposed putting Lazarus and Jesus to death as a way to prevent further trouble. Now Jesus was delivering himself into their “trap”. The Sanhedrin thought they had a good plan.
In spite of the plots against them, Jesus and Lazarus enter Jerusalem, and not quietly either. Jesus sits upon an ass which was a symbol of peace and the people wave palm branches which were symbols of victory. My commentary says that this was done by Jesus to “make it clear that no earthly pretensions were in his mind. He was coming to the true Israel as their rightful King of Peace.” But the disciples and certainly not the Pharisees did not realize until later that this was fulfilling a prophecy in Zechariah. My commentary says this is an example of men unconsciously bearing witness to a truth greater than they could imagine. He was a king, just not the kind they were accustomed to. Unfortunately, they would realize this too late.
Events would later be turned on their heads. The conflict between the overcoming power of the world would be defeated by the servant power of Jesus as he was risen to even more power than they could have realized.
This is a conflict we experience in ourselves. We so often want things our way and try hard to make them happen, only to find that God had a better way. When we forcefully oppose something in our lives or in others we only give it more power. The tension produced inevitably leads to a crisis of self-awareness and hopefully to insight.
There is a saying, “Let go and let God”. I have a hard time with that, do you?