Rejoice! Hallelujah! He Comes!

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Zechariah 9:9 – Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (NIV)

Great excitement filled the air: the parade was coming. The little Mexican village of Ajijic on the shores of Lake Chapala was in an excited buzz. We were sitting at a roadside cafe, looking out on the local square with front row seats. Our location was great for taking pictures, but I hadn't counted on getting ashes all over my video camera! It was Ash Wednesday and the people were celebrating with a parade like no other. It was eclectic, covering every event of Passion Week.

Here it comes! Following the band is an old truck decorated with an Easter bunny and presents. Here is another truck with the crucified head of Jesus on the hood. Then some beautiful girls in native dress come riding their horses gently by us, and here comes what looks like King Neptune, of all things! But where was the donkey? Not in this parade. But a devilish figure came by, harassing those watching: a fierce image with straw hair and mask, tempting everyone to throw ashes on him. The highlight is now upon us — dancing horses! Amazing to watch, but I found myself wondering who really understood the meaning of it all.

Parades! Here comes another. This road leads into Jerusalem and a crowd gathers. The focus now is on a man riding by on a donkey! Surely the main theme is unmistakable, or is it? What a powerful statement is being made with such deep conviction. Was Jesus doing it deliberately, making a quiet statement about the focus of his earthly mission? He has come as a gentle, lowly King, bringing, not victory over the surrounding nations, but salvation before their God! Did they really get it that day, as the crowds shouted their hosannas? "Lord, save us," they called out to Jesus, waving their palm branches in the air. Others even laid down their cloaks, giving Jesus a softer ride! The One who comes to us from God comes gently. That is very reassuring as we struggle with our confusion.

The One who comes to us rides on a borrowed colt, a beast of burden, not yet broken in. This was not a rich man. And no one was silent that day, and that was a good thing, for Scripture reminds us of Jesus' comment to the disapproving Pharisees: "If [the disciples] keep quiet, the stones will cry out." (Luke 19:40 NIV) I wonder if earth is crying out today because of our silence?

Did the crowd get Jesus' meaning? The word went about quickly: this is Jesus the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee. But I don't think the crowds, or even the disciples, got the real message of that parade. Do we? How do we respond to Jesus when he comes to us? Do we receive Him as a lowly prophet of God? As an awesome King? As a suffering Servant? Crucified Lord? Victorious Saviour?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we look forward to Your gentle coming to us along this parade we call life. Today, may we not remain silent, but tell another how much You mean to us. We journey with You this week through a pall of suffering, watching and wondering. Allow us, by Your mercy, to accompany You and explain to passers-by what it means to walk the road to Calvary and to participate in Your resurrection. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

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Iris Ford

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