Spot the story arch between Mark 10 and Mark 11. At the end of chapter 10, Jesus has been interrupted on his journey through Jericho by a blind man crying to receive his sight. Healed of his blindness, Bartimaeus now follows Jesus, joining with his disciples.
When we get to chapter 11, we discover where it is that Jesus is heading. He is heading towards Jerusalem. Jesus has repeated throughout the second part of the Gospel that he must go up to the capital city to face arrest, trial and execution. This is where Bartimaeus was following Jesus to, he was following him to The Cross.
Read Mark 11:1-11…..
We are now two thirds of the way through the Gospel. A whole third of it will be dedicated to Jesus’ last days in Jerusalem. This tells us where the focus has been all along. Jesus’ life as told in Mark is a life lived within the shadow of the Cross. It is this moment that everything has been building up to,
As they draw near to the city, Jesus sends a couple of his disciples on ahead with the job of finding and fetching a young donkey for him to ride on. It is possible that this is a miraculously arranged sign and of course that is within Jesus’ power but the wording here suggests that this is more prearranged, Jesus, The Lord is expected and the owners of the donkey are ready to allow him use of their animal.
What a scene then as Jesus rides the donkey into the city. At one level, here we see festival goers completing their pilgrimage, singing Psalms that speak of David’s heir, the coming Messiah. However, there is a clear sense that as the crowd with Jesus sing their praises and throw down coats and palm branches in front of him that they see him as the one fulfilling those promises. He is the Son of David, coming in Yahweh’s name.
This is the moment. This is his time. Jesus arrives, and the first thing he does is head to the Temple. There he has a good look around, observing the behaviour of those who have arrived for the festival and those who are meant to be welcoming and serving them there. He doesn’t act on what he sees just yet -that is to come.
We of course have the benefit of hindsight. With the crowd, we know what was dawning on them and had first been declared by Peter, Jesus is The Christ. However, we also know that his kingdom was not going to be ushered in with fanfare and fighting but with suffering and death.
There are I think, two crucial implications here.
- We have greater reason for thankfulness because we know exactly what the good news is that we celebrate.
- It is therefore vital that we make sure that we proclaim the full message. Sharing the good news of Jesus and telling people about his love means that we must talk about the Cross. This means we must talk about sin and judgement. It is because Jesus died to take the penalty for sin that we have good news, we have hope.