6th Sunday of Lent: The Triumphal Entry/La Entrada Triunfal

By Annette Pacheco

Based on Mark 11:1-11.

Palm Sunday Procession, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54312 [retrieved February 24, 2015]. Original source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/johndonaghy/3415402416/.

Palm Sunday Procession, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://bit.ly/1w86hr7 [retrieved February 24, 2015]. Original source: http://bit.ly/1wkBtcG.

Today we celebrate the day called “Palm Sunday,” the day of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem one week prior to his crucifixion and death. Why this is called “Palm Sunday?” Because according to the Gospel of John the crowds in Jerusalem came out to greet Jesus carrying palm branches, which they either waved or strewed in his path.

In the ensuing days, Jesus did cleanse the Temple, but he didn’t raise a finger against the Romans. In fact, he didn’t even raise his voice against them. By Friday, enough of the multitude were sufficiently disenchanted with Jesus that the Temple priesthood who had engineered his arrest and delivered him to the Romans on the treasonous charge of claiming to be “King of the Jews” were able to turn them against him. And now they chanted not cries of “Hosanna!” but “Crucify him! Crucify him!” And so to the cross he went, to die as he knew he must.

The crucifixion of Jesus was not an accident that befell him unawares while visiting Jerusalem. Rather Jesus understood and embraced his calling to undergo so excruciating a death. In fact he deliberately provoked the events that would lead to his execution. He understood himself to be the Shepherd-King prophesied by Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9) and openly assumed this role in his provocative triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Throughout the process he displayed his foreknowledge of the events of his passion: the finding of the donkey, the arrangements for his last Passover Supper in the upper room, Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s three-fold denial, the disciples deserting him, his deliverance to the Gentiles, his scourging, humiliation, and execution. He announced all these things in advance. He thereby showed himself to be Lord over history.

Jesus doesn’t always meet our expectations. Jesus was radically different than our expectations. As Zechariah had prophesied he came humbly and bringing peace. The Kingdom of God which he preached and inaugurated was not an earthly, political kingdom, but the rule of God in the hearts of people who know and serve him. But this was not the kingdom which the people expected or wanted, and so they rejected Jesus as their Lord.

In our Christian lives, as we grow older we all encounter situations in which God does not fulfill our expectations. And the temptation in all these situations is to bail out of what the Christian faith teaches and to do things your own way. You give up confidence in Gods’ love for you and no longer trust God. When God doesn’t live up to our expectations, then we reject God and do things the way we think they should be done or dislike God for not giving us what we want. Jesus is Lord. He’s under no obligation to live up to your expectations. Many of us seem to think that if Christ doesn’t fit our expectations, then we’ll just reject him as the crowds in Jerusalem did. But Christ is Lord, and he doesn’t have to fit our expectations of him.

We must tailor our expectations to what God decrees, not try to tailor God to fit our expectations. Christ is Lord, and he knows what is best. If we try to make him fit our expectations, what is acceptable to us, or else we will reject him, then that is the path to self-destruction. We must not be like the people in Jerusalem, who hailed Christ as their king, just so long as he fit their image of what a king should be. Let us rather acknowledge him truly as our King, our Lord, our Sovereign, and receive from his hand whatever he decrees.

La Entrada Triunfal (Marcos 11:1-11)

Hoy celebramos el día llamado Domingo de Ramos, el día de la entrada triunfal de Jesús en Jerusalén una semana antes de su crucifixión y muerte. Si alguno de nosotros se pregunta por qué se le llama Domingo de Ramos, es porque según el evangelio de Juan, la muchedumbre de Jerusalén salió al encuentro de Jesús llevando estas ramas, que movían en el aire y tendían en su camino, según entraba en la ciudad.

En los días siguientes, Jesús sí purificó el templo, pero ni siquiera levantó un dedo contra los romanos, de hecho, ni siquiera levanto la voz contra ellos. Para el viernes, sabiendo que la multitud estaba lo suficientemente desencantada con Jesús, el sacerdocio del templo que había organizado su arresto, y entregado a los romanos bajo los cargos de ser el rey de los judíos, pudo volverlos contra Jesús. Y ahora no dicen gritos de ¡Hosanna!, sino ¡crucificadle!, ¡crucificadle!, y así fue a la cruz, a morir como Él sabía que debía hacer.

La crucifixión de Jesús no fue un accidente que cogió a Jesús desprevenido cuando estaba visitando Jerusalén, sino que Jesús entendió y abrazó su vocación de pasar por una muerte tan insoportable. De hecho, Él deliberadamente provocó los sucesos que conducirían a su ejecución. Él se veía a sí mismo como el rey Pastor profetizado por Zacarías (Zacarías 9:9), y abiertamente asumió ese rol en su provocativa entrada triunfal en la ciudad. Durante todo el proceso, el mostró su presciencia de los eventos de su pasión: el encuentro del asno, los arreglos para su ultima cena de Pascua en la habitación superior, la traición de Judas, las 3 negaciones de Pedro, el abandono de sus discípulos, su entrega a los gentiles, su humillación su ejecución… el anunció todas estas cosas con anticipación. Y por lo tanto, con ello se mostró como Señor de la Historia.

Jesús no siempre cumple con nuestras expectativas. Pero Jesús era radicalmente diferente a sus expectativas. Como Zacarías había profetizado, llegó humilde, y trayendo la paz. El reino de Dios que Él predicó e inauguró no era un reinado político terrenal, sino más bien el gobierno de Dios en los corazones de los hombres y mujeres que le conocen y le sirven. Pero este no era el reinado que la gente quería o esperaba, y así, rechazaron a Jesús como su Señor.

En nuestras vidas cristianas, según crecemos todos encontraremos situaciones en las que Dios no cumple con nuestras expectativas. Y la tentación en todas estas situaciones es “rescatarnos” de lo que enseña la fe cristiana y tratar de hacer las cosas a nuestra propia manera. Guardas rencor y amargura ante las oportunidades perdidas, pierdes la confianza en el amor de Dios por ti y ya no confías en Él. He visto ocurrir este tipo de cosas una vez y otra en las vidas de amigos cristianos. Cuando Dios no cumple nuestras expectativas, apartamos a Dios y hacemos las cosas del modo que creemos que deben hacerse, o nos sentimos resentidos con Él por no darnos lo que pensamos que merecemos. Y en lo que quiero insistir en este momento, Jesús es Señor. Él no tiene obligación alguna de responder a nuestras expectativas, Él es el Señor.

Si Cristo no se ajusta a nuestras expectativas, entonces simplemente le rechazamos, como la multitud en Jerusalén. Pero Cristo es el Señor y no tiene por qué encajar en nuestras expectativas. Debemos ajustar nuestras expectativas a lo que Dios decreta, y no ajustar a Dios a nuestras expectativas. Cristo es el Señor, y Él sabe lo que es mejor. Reconozcamos a Cristo realmente como nuestro Rey, nuestro Señor, nuestro Soberano, y recibamos de su mano, su propósito.

Annette PachecoAnnette Pacheco, from Yauco, Puerto Rico, serves as national treasurer for American Baptist Women’s Ministries. A member of Primera Iglesia Bautista de Yauco, Annette was born in Detroit, Michigan, raised in Puerto Rico, and was married in Boston, Massachusetts; she and her family moved back to Puerto Rico in 1993. She is an active leader in her church, enjoys working with the church’s youth, and has served as treasurer in wider arenas of Baptist work in Puerto Rico.

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2 thoughts on “6th Sunday of Lent: The Triumphal Entry/La Entrada Triunfal

  1. Annette, thank you for sharing your reflections. Yesterday on Palm Sunday, when I read Matthew 21, I felt annoyed that Jesus was provoking the religious leaders again and again upon his arrival in Jerusalem. I appreciated your discussion about this. Thanks, too, for including your reflections in Spanish.

  2. You are so correct that Jesus was playing out history. He knew his identity and his mission. It is true we want to rewrite the script. We want God to ……when we should be spending time sitting at Jesus’ feet.

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