Welcome to Wednesday’s Foundation Podcast. Today’s passage is Mark 11: 1-19 which you can hear read in full following this short reflection and prayer.
Our reading today centres around Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem as he is hailed as the Messianic king. Many of us will have heard this passage read out on Palm Sunday recently as it marks the start of Holy Week – this final act of Jesus’ earthly life. Throughout the Gospel accounts, we get continued references to Jesus being on a journey. Today’s passages marks a significant point on that journey as Jesus enters into Jerusalem – the place where he will be betrayed, tried, tortured, beaten, crucified and then three days later rise again.
And it strikes me as I read this passage again, knowing all that was to come, Jesus was faced with a real choice here. He could have chosen not to enter Jerusalem. He could have turned back. He could have taken his disciples and gone and set up his own community living in the hills somewhere. There was a way out. And we maybe see the effects that this choice has weighing upon him most evidently as Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethesmane. ‘Father – if you are willing, take this cup from me.’
Jesus was faced with a choice. He could have chosen a different way. He could have chosen to not enter Jerusalem and, particularly to do so in the manner in which he does – riding in on a colt, the week of the Passover celebration. His actions are very deliberate so that the scriptures were fulfilled. And because he chose to arrive in this way they were. The people remembered the promises God made their people. They joined the dots. They anticipated the arrival of their king. ‘Hosanna’, they cry. ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’
Jesus had a real choice. And as we see in this passage, and throughout his entire earthly ministry, Jesus continually chose the will of his Father. He chose to commit to the road he has started down. A road which, as he repeatedly explained to his disciples, would end in his brutal death upon the cross.
This week we’ve been asking the question: What kind of life does Jesus call us to? We see here in today’s passage that to follow Jesus, is to literally do just that – to commit, to choose God’s way.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about the choices we each face like this – a choice between a wide gate and a narrow gate. When we really get down to it, what we are each faced with is a choice between going our own way and committing to God’s. Jesus isn’t ambiguous about which path we should choose. Enter through the narrow gate we read. And to enter through the narrow gate is to choose Jesus. Like Jesus chose to commit to God’s plan for his life, so we are to, knowing that this a road which will be challenging, that will mean we have to make some difficult decisions at times.
Jesus doesn’t promise us that committing to God’s way will be easy, but what we do see is that this is the road which leads to life. Life with God. Life in God. The life we were made for. And it’s a life that Jesus was willing to go to the cross for so that we might live.
Jesus calls us to a life of commitment. To be a people of the narrow gate. To choose God’s way.
What does committing to God’s path for each of us look like today? Maybe it’s committing to a person? A relationship? A course/a work place? Maybe it’s committing to a course of action? A place that God has put us?
Where is God calling us to commit to walking in his ways, following his path this day? In a moment we are going to pray. And as we do so, as we ask for God’s strength and guidance in knowing how and where we are called to express our commitment to him this day, we remember that God is totally committed to us. He chose us. Jesus rides into Jerusalem knowing the crowds who worship him will in just a few short days be the ones shouting, ‘Crucify him.’
Yet Jesus still chose to walk that path knowing it would cost him everything. Where we face challenges on the road, following Jesus, committing to him today, we remember that our God has already gone ahead of us and has shown us the way.
Jesus, we thank you that you are so committed to us. That you went to the cross for us. Thank you have made a way so that we can know life – a real and eternal life in you. We pray Jesus this day that you would help us to be people of the narrow gate, a people who are prepared to commit, to make decisions this day for your good and your glory. So that your name and your love would be known. Lead us in your ways this day Jesus. Amen.
READING: Mark 11:1-19
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you doing this?” say, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.”’
They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, ‘What are you doing, untying that colt?’ They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’
‘Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!’
‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig-tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard him say it.
On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, ‘Is it not written: “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations”? But you have made it “a den of robbers”.’
The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.
When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.