The Day after the Palms

I want to do something different this Holy Week . . . Something that will help me focus more on Christ and what He did for me. So this week, I’ll be reflecting on Jesus last days.



After a nice evening with Lazarus, Mary and Martha, it was time to head back into Jerusalem. This Monday morning entrance had no spectators. There were a few palms left alongside the road, but the cloaks were gone, and the donkey had been returned to her owner.

I can’t help but speculate what Jesus and his disciples talked about on the forty-five minute walk back into Jerusalem, and my mind always wonders at the logistics. For instance, where did 13 extra guys sleep in a small home in Bethany? Maybe Lazarus had a stable, or perhaps they just all took a spot on the living room floor. It’s impossible to know, and maybe no one else even asks those questions, but they do run through my mind.

It was less than two miles from Lazarus’ home into Jerusalem. Did the disciples ask Jesus questions? Or were they still in shock at everything Jesus had been telling them lately? Were they still pondering how Jesus knew that donkey would be waiting? And the crowd from the day before . . . I’m pretty sure those people were unanticipated.

Maybe Jesus used this time to share some of the parables that Luke mentions. I’m certain Jesus was using every spare minute to give His followers their last minute instructions. He knew He only had a few days left, even though the disciples seemed completely oblivious to the facts of the situation. It’s not like Jesus hadn’t told them what was going on, but denial has been a human trait since the beginning of time.

I see Jesus being very human on this trip to Jerusalem. He obviously had missed a meal or headed out when He should have had a snack. Maybe with thirteen people invading Lazarus and his sisters, He hadn’t wanted to put them out. We’re not sure why Jesus was hungry, but somewhere between Bethany and Jerusalem, they found a fig tree, and the hungry, human Jesus went looking for a snack.

It’s here at this tree that I see some of the stress Jesus must have been feeling. Jesus knows He’s heading toward His arrest, beating and crucifixion. The promise of being joined with His Father in heaven again, can’t be enough to diminish the anguish of the pain He knows is coming. It’s in this moment, at a tree that the disciples tell us was not in season for fruit, that Jesus’ humanness shows.

I know in my own life when I’m feeling stressed by something major, it doesn’t take much to get to me. Hunger is definitely something that can push me to the edge of my frustration. That’s where I see Jesus as He curses this tree that had no fruit through no fault of its own. It’s this moment in Jesus’ walk to Jerusalem that helps me see Jesus as fully human and tremendously relatable.

When Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, the gospel writers tell us that he went directly to the temple. I always wonder how much Jesus knew ahead of time while He was here on earth. As we’ve already seen, He was truly human. And although we can say with confidence that the Holy Spirit gave Him a heads up about His death and resurrection, I can’t help but wonder if there were some things that Jesus found out the same way you and I do.

The buying and selling at the temple, for instance. I imagine Jesus heading to the temple to worship. My mind seems Him seeking strength in the house of His Father to make it through these last trying days. With the rage our peaceful Savior showed when He walked into this House of Worship, I often wonder if those folks selling and cheating were somewhat of a surprise to Him. Or perhaps He knew they’d be there because they always were, but today, when He just wanted to have some quiet time in the presence of His Heavenly Father, they were especially offensive to His Spirit. Whichever the case, we know that cheating the followers of God right there in the place He’d chosen to be worshipped was more than Christ could take on this particular Monday.

But once the sellers were gone, Jesus must have taken a moment to worship and get out of His humanness because the gospels tell us He spent the rest of the day teaching at the temple. With parables and words of wisdom, Jesus shared with anyone who would listen. Even after the priests and teachers of the law challenged Him, Jesus kept right on sharing the lessons of His heavenly Father.

With only a few days left to live on this earth, we can see the urgency in Jesus’ message. My mind still wonders if He ever got something to eat, or was He hungry when He headed back to His friends’ home for the night.

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