The Triumphal Entry seems so out of character for Jesus that I find myself struggling to understand its place in the Gospel. We’ve traversed quite a bit of the book of Mark this year, and at every turn Jesus seems to be shushing people, warning them not to spread the news that he is Messiah. “See that you tell no one” is a Markan refrain, like a praise chorus that keeps on repeating itself, only it is a resounding “shhh” rather than an alleluia. Maybe the Hosanna of today’s text is a big relief after all that silence, and that is why we get excited about Palm Sunday. Finally, we get to make some noise. Finally, the secret’s out. Jesus is King, and we can shout it. Finally.
But after the street dust has settled and the palm leaves have been trampled and the boisterous singing has softened, we are left wondering what made Jesus change his tune? I mean, the people do not burst forth in jubilation like characters in a musical, catching Jesus by surprise. The crowd didn’t stage a flash mob in defiance of Jesus’ demand for silence; Jesus himself does all the staging. If you read the story, you get the sense that Jesus encouraged the praise by setting it all up just so. He arranges for the donkey, he plans it out meticulously, he rides in, he accepts the glory. But why? What happened to keeping it quiet, staying beneath the radar, and maintaining a low profile? Read more →