April 02, 2023
Leading up to today’s scripture Jesus had traveled throughout the regions of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea doing things that amazed people and telling them who He was. Excited people believed Jesus was their next king and they followed him everywhere He went. People throughout Galilee, Samaria, and Judea thought they had found among their own people a ruler with ability to politically unite them and overthrow the Romans. Mothers aspired for their sons to be elevated to positions of power and authority in the new government they expected Jesus to establish.
Matthew 21 begins just east of the city of Jerusalem where the waiting crowd was practically wild with excitement! All four gospels tell about Jesus triumphantly entering Jerusalem on a donkey. Matthew tells us he sent two disciples ahead to find a donkey and her young colt (obviously making us wonder how Jesus knew) and of Jesus riding “lowly” into Jerusalem on the colt (and the donkey) while cheering crowds spread their garments and tree branches along his path. We know the story by heart.
What must the disciples have thought when their future king sent them not after a warhorse or a chariot, or even a respectable mode of transportation, but a donkey and her colt? After approximately two years by Jesus’ side did they notice the incongruity between their expectations and Jesus’? And what were the excited people thinking when they saw Jesus enter the city of the Temple with no armed escort and no visible support? Did they miss the paradox?
The King of Kings, the crucified Son of God incarnate, the Messiah, rode into Jerusalem on a donkey? So much about Jesus is paradoxical. The one who finds his life loses it, and the one who loses his life for Jesus’ sake finds it? Love your enemies? Strength, through weakness? The first shall be last… You can probably think of a dozen more. Even if we can’t make logical sense of the paradox, if you’re like me you experience something spiritual pondering them. If you are like me, your response is worship.
I believe our existence at all—yours and mine—is impossibly improbable, and that it is infinitely unlikely that you and I would be together at this moment in time—you reading what I’ve written about paradox. Surprise! May we each encounter Christ in the paradoxes we daily overlook, the surprises we tend to take for granted, and spontaneously worship Christ together in response.
- Dudley Perry, Jr.