A week of passion

Mt Olives dome rock graves foreground

The view from the Mount of Olives toward the Temple Mount is radically different today than it was on the Week of Passion. Instead of graves, there were olive trees. Instead of the Dome of the Rock, there was a great Temple.

We call it the “Week of Passion.” What an understatement!

On the first day of the week, Jesus entered Jerusalem like a conquering general. In our culture, we’d rather see Jesus on a great stallion than a humble donkey, but that’s only an example of how little we comprehend of the culture of the Bible.

The kings of Israel were expected to arrive on a donkey.

Plus, donkeys could handle the countless stones on the roads leading into Jerusalem. Stallions with fragile shins would be looking at a short lifespan in such a rocky, hilly environment. Had Jesus tried to ride the winner of the Kentucky Derby into Jerusalem, there’s a good chance he would have been walking the last half a mile.

Bottom line? By the time Jesus reached the bottom of the Mount of Olives, thousands of people were singing, cheering and expecting Jesus to miraculously take over as the perfect mix of a priest and king. 

Can you hear the logic? This man could stop a storm in its tracks. Could he not do the same thing to an enemy? And what of his own troops? He could multiply food and weapons with a simple prayer. He could heal his wounded and bring the dead back to life! And who needs a navy when you can walk on water? Talk about an unstoppable force!

And yet Jesus was weeping over Jerusalem as he arrived.

Then he was creating havoc in the marketplace.

His teaching was hard. He didn’t take over. He kept talking about his death. The PR campaign was a disaster!

By Thursday, the crowd had forgotten their popular hero.

By Friday morning, he was on a cross.

A “Week of Passion?” Might as well call a hurricane a “shower.” If this was “passion,” then a tornado is a “strong breeze.”

But Jesus didn’t arrive in Jerusalem to be popular. He didn’t ride into the city on a donkey as his way of announcing a coup. He didn’t run the money changers and sellers off the Temple Mount grounds because he was aiming for political reform.

Jesus had come with a mission so large, no one else could see it, grasp it, or even comprehend it.

He had come to die.

For you. For me.

And if we somehow thought the first part of the week was filled with passion, just wait until you get to the weekend. The horror of Friday’s crucifixion was followed with the depression of Saturday’s loss. No one has ever felt more loss than those who loved Jesus. They had been convinced that he was much more than a normal man. Some had even dared say what they all had been thinking.

This man was God on earth. Call him the Messiah, the Son of God or the Anointed One. All they knew was that he was all they ever wanted.

Now … he was dead.

From the passion of a triumphal entry to the depression of loss too strong to be described, this was indeed a “Week of Passion.”

And somehow, some way, the passion was about to increase to an entirely new level.

For Sunday was one sunrise away!