“The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’ When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’” – Matthew 21:6-11
“Save us!” they cried. “Hosanna to the Son of David!” Hosannas to a Son of the Great Warrior King. Hosannas offered by those who would remain captive but for the leadership of a new King – a King for the Jews. I suspect that as he plodded along with the steady clop, clop, clop of the colt, he must have wondered, “Don’t they see the message? There is no warrior’s steed here.” As the crowds bellowed their hopes, he must have sadly thought, “They don’t understand.”
It’s like that with love, I think, especially the kind that always lives … or dies … for the other. It never seems terribly logical, never appears to demand its own space but always must be lived in the in-between spaces – those places that only find meaning when one embraces the paradox. “You’ve heard it said, but I say to you ….” “Blessed are they” … the humble, the meek, the small, the powerless, the little nobodies of the world. I suspect that is the reason for the colt, living imagery so stunning that it becomes almost comical, a joke that is nearly impossible to dismiss. Which is the point.
Jesus brings liberation of such immense capacity that one can finally love when one would rather hate, cry when one would rather kill, and hope when reality itself deemed there was no hope. Freedom, even to die to one’s self, so that one might finally look into the mirror, heart in one’s throat, and ask the harder question – not “Who is this?” but in light of who this is, “Who am I?”
This might be the most terrifying question of all, where there is no longer any evil “out there” to overcome, no enemy to kill, and no one left to crucify. Warriors won’t save, not even those who come charging on a stallion. Who am I? I am the one who cries hosannas. I am the one who demands the head of my enemy. I am the enemy, in a thousand different ways, in a million different circumstances. And it occurs to me, that I can finally say so, because this Jesus, this Son of Man, this human one, comes on a colt.
Only a colt would do, ridden by the poorest of them all, stemming from a place from whence nothing good can come. King of the Jews. Son of God. Grace.
Holy One, how often we make our demands for Your salvation, loudly proclaiming in righteous assurance, “Out there is the horror! Out there is the violation! Out there is the evil that must be vanquished!” And yet, Lord of our tears, You come on a colt. Holy God, we humbly ask that you quieten our spirits, settle our screaming egos, and soften our edges. Give us the ears to hear the whispers of your love, which exists not in power, prestige, and possession, but is birthed in vulnerability, abides in humility, and is shared in selflessness. Gentle Savior, we ask for courage for justice and a heart for grace. Amen.
Steve Taylor is a Home Missioner and Director of the Connectional Table for the NC Conference