After Jesus had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
29 When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 32 So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They said, “The Lord needs it.” 35 Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38 saying,
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
Jesus knows. Sometimes I forget this- he KNOWS on that donkey ride into Jerusalem what awaits him. He’s been foreshadowing it for his disciples. In Matthew 20 we hear him say to his 12 disciples, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!" He KNOWS! In fact, he can probably already feel the stab of betrayal, the pain of tearing flesh, the merciless hot sun, the final gasp.
Even so, less than a week before his last breath, he rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. And he readily accepts this blessing spoken over him, “Blessed in the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” I wonder if Jesus felt that blessing—or something else entirely–knowing what was about to take place? We can’t know exactly how Jesus felt, but we know that he embraced his fate with as much courage as humanity has ever seen. He embraces this blessing over his body too: “Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven.”
How many of us, when we KNOW something hard is going to happen- allow ourselves to embody peace? It’s mostly the opposite, right? We get anxious, maybe so unnerved that we begin to question ourselves. Self-doubt sinks in, our bodies begin to shake, our heart beats faster. Maybe we want to avoid the challenge at all costs. All of this is totally normal. To be human is to react against what is hard. This is why it takes a God like Jesus to reveal a NEW way of being at peace, even when turmoil surrounds us.
I don’t know about you, but I often seek to create my own peace by changing my environment or circumstances; that works a little bit, right? When I’m anxious and go for a walk or run, my mind clears and my spirit feels rejuvenated….but I return to the same life circumstances that caused my anxiety in the first place. Unless….I allow that time away to change my heart, my spirit. Until I recognize that no amount of human effort is going to create peace, I won’t be open to the dramatic change Holy Spirit within me can create. Recall from last week- that spiritual change requires vulnerability.
See, that’s what makes Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem triumphant- he KNOWS what’s about to happen to him, and he embodies peace anyway. How? He’s got Holy Spirit. It’s the only explanation for this scene, in which Jesus faces his greatest fears with a clear mind and heart: “Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven.” I tend to think it's a lot harder for us non-God humans to do this; but then again, I can easily get distracted from this truth: we ALSO have Holy Spirit in us. We ALSO get to choose to embody peace, despite whatever comes our way. We have the chance to change our hearts through the power of Christ. Sure it takes practice and commitment and faith- but it IS possible to be at peace regardless of our circumstances.
On Monday- with my group of cool contemplative pastors on zoom, we heard this devotional on Inner Peace from Daily Word Devotionals
I think peace. I feel peace. I am peace.
Peace lives in my heart. At the place within me where all appearances of separation dissolve, I feel only peace, only God, only oneness. This peace is always mine, part of my divine inheritance. I carry it with me through every experience, every moment of the day.
Nothing can destroy or even disturb my peace when I invite the divine presence, the Christ of my being, to be my constant guide. A passing thought of fear, worry, or anger is a reminder to breathe, to release negative energy, to embrace peace.
I feel renewed when I meditate, enjoy a walk in a peaceful garden, or take a moment to appreciate natural beauty wherever I find it. My indwelling peace manifests all around me as beauty, harmony, and bliss.
May the Lord give strength to God’s people! May the Lord bless God’s people with peace! – Psalm 29:11
Only God could have known how much my spirit needed that message on Monday. Just 5 minutes prior, I had lost my patience with my brilliant children who still can't seem to put their socks and shoes on in the morning before school! With my heart still racing a bit, I logged onto that zoom call- and I heard this word, “peace lives in my heart” and I knew it to be true. Even when I don’t pay attention to it, peace is within me. If only I make space to discover it- to practice peace…then I am drawn closer to the Prince of Peace who paved the way for me.
What do you need to do to discover your own peaceful spirit? What voices might need quieting in order to hear the still-speaking voice of the Prince of Peace? What parts of your spirit feel broken, in need of the healing light peace can bring? How will YOU embrace the peace that lives within your heart this Holy Week? I’m not saying it’s easy- or convenient, or even natural. Embodying peace is perhaps the hardest work of all- but you are worth it- you were certainly worth it to Christ as he accepted his fate with courage and peace.
This Holy Week, we remember that joy and sorrow are two sides of the same coin. Faith is not the opposite of despair, but the very road through it. Hope–resurrection hope– cannot come without first experiencing the grief of loss. Peace is not possible in this world until we discover the peace that lives within us. PEACE is the fabric from which our spirits are formed. Allowing us to say, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” May we be people who yearn for peace, as we enter Holy Week in awe of the Prince of Peace who leads the way.
Rev. Emily Munger
delights in connecting sacred texts with everyday life.