What Jesus was thinking as the crowds shrieked and cheered? Arriving in celebrity, Jesus rode in to that great city upon a wave of public sentiment unrivaled in his career. We know now how long that would last, how fickle his fans really were.
Jesus knew why he was there. Jesus understood where this road would end.
Did he wave back?
Did he smile?
Did he laugh at the dancing antics of the little girls and boys, excited yet unaware of the gravity of this sudden parade?
Did he soak it in?
Did his heart ache?
Was he still weeping for the devastating future of this city?
Did he wave to old friends, appearing among the crowds?
This worshiping crowd would turn. Some of them, perhaps within hours, following Jesus’ unseemly disruption of their Passover preparations. All of them would be gone by the weekend.
Did he look with disdain on the adoring crowd, or with compassion?
Did he wonder at their praise, or reject it as hype?
Did he savour this moment to sustain him in the coming days?
What was he thinking? Have you ever wondered that?
I think he looked into the eyes of the little girls and the faces of the expectant men and his heart rushed with love for them. Of course he knew they were unaware of their own fickleness, clueless beyond the faintest suggestion of his true purpose. And yet I see him smiling as the women danced, laughing as the little boys ran alongside him, all the while knowing that this beautiful, righteous, holy moment was a little foretaste of what would truly come when these people were truly free, when things were finally right, when death was finally done. A foretaste of delight before the bitter meal laid.
And I think he also looked beyond this crowd to see the rest of us. The confused men and fickle women and oblivious children, people both expectant and self-absorbed, seeking yet lost, filled with hope and yet so filled with despair, down through history, right up to this very Holy Week.
I think as he rode that crowd’s delight, he saw even me.
And in that moment, when the Hosanna’s rang out the clearest, within his heart he said to his Father, “I am come to do your will. I am here to save these luckless, clueless, feckless, hopeless prodigals. Because when I look at them, I see them in the light of your love, I see who they will become. I see who they are, when death has been finished and life has truly come. I am come to die their death and give them my life.”
And so I think he did wave. I see his smiling laughter, with an ache in his throat. Shouting out to old friends, and all the while fighting the swell of tears. At the height of the song of salvation, reveling in the glory and preparing for the assault.
And all for us.
Thank you, Jesus, for seeing beyond the cross, seeing beyond our fickleness, beyond our sin and pain and selfishness. Thank you, Jesus, for keeping on that road which led to your humiliation. Thank you for doing what we could not do, so we could be who we could not be.
We owe you everything.
Hosanna. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem can be found in all four gospels: Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19 and John 12.