Contemplating Jesus


Posted on by Lucinda M. Vardey

James Tissot 1836-1902

Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a colt or donkey was not without incident. He had come to Jerusalem before for the festivals, sometimes openly and on occasions concealed, but this time he was being heralded by a massive crowd. It was to be his last Passover, one of the great feasts of his tradition. It was going to be celebrated, unknown to most, with the sacrifice of himself.

All hail to the King! “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” we are told
the crowds cried as he rode in. Jesus’ entry to the Holy City was long expected as his words, his miracles, his very presence were now famous in so many regions. For his crowning he was on the back of a donkey, as his mother probably rode pregnant with him into Bethlehem and later to Egypt when he was an infant. As the wise men came on camels from the East to honour him at birth, he now reflects the culmination of his and his people’s history.

All hail to the King! Children wave palms, there is much commotion. Something
great is about to happen: at last the Messiah’s crowning, in glory and majesty!
Yet it was not a crowning of gold or silver or jewels or rich cloths, nor of power as it was perceived. The kingship of Jesus was about to be witnessed in an entirely different way. He was to wear a crown wove of thistles, a crown of suffering made from human hate, suspicion and fear. His court as king was to be judged as a criminal, to be despised, alone and betrayed by his followers and friends.

Jesus’ triumph was the ultimate act of love in the face of everything that was piled up against him. His majesty was his silence, patience, humility, and endurance of shame. Here was a king who rejected every material trappings, every natural human response for revenge, defence and self-pity. This king was being crowned in the midst of physical and mental extremes of suffering as he gave himself completely to the will of God, who emptied every iota of self to what God desired for him. It was a kenotic crowning: who else could have endured such darkness and evil other than the One who sacrificed all for the sake of others to the point of absolute abandonment?

Only this king crowned with the cruelest of deaths, could give birth to a new life. The ending and the beginning, the abundance experienced in its fullness when all was surrendered, given over to the point where suffering had met its capacity, when there was no more to endure. Only then did his words on the cross “It is accomplished” provide the ultimate revelation. New life had been born to every nation under the sun.

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