The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey's colt!”
His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” John 12:12-19
No matter how humble or fancy the journey, there is always an element of excitement and anxiety, of anticipation and hope. Journeys challenge us to move beyond our familiar places and people to encounter the larger world. Early tomorrow morning we set off for Denver. We used to live there, so we are taking a few days to reconnect with old friends, be nostalgic visiting old haunts and finding out how a familiar world has changed completely. The scars from the Aurora shooting are still fresh and weeping. There is a good deal of ugliness in all these beautiful places.
Jesus entered Jerusalem humbly, on a donkey, and was greeted as royalty with shouts and fanfare. His ministry and his healing had transformed their world. The people gathered knew someone whose life had positively changed because of a chance encounter with the living God. And yet, Jesus was on a journey that did not end with the triumph of that day, but took him deep into the wounds and scars that are humanity. We are invited by God to go on a journey too, to enter the dark and unknown places, caring love and hope as we go forth. God is willing to go to the hardest, meanest places with us. God in Christ has traversed the worst journey and is willing to go with us into our darkest roads.
Today as we set forth may we remember that all of life is a journey, with days both good and bad, full of darkness and light. We are never alone as we move towards others, offering love and hope in their shadowed, fearful world. God goes with us because every one of us is precious and valued in the sight of God.