A Reflection on Mark 11: 8-10 by Revd Fiona Beale
Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David. Hosanna in the highest heaven.“
These verses today are part of the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, where Jesus rides on a colt down from Bethany which is situated on the Mount of Olives, which meant they had to come down a very steep hill and then climb up into Jerusalem to the temple. Those who were travelling into the city for the Passover festival numbered thousands and they would have travelled from all over the Roman Empire for this weeklong celebration to remember the great exodus from Egypt. (Exodus 12: 37-51). Many in the crowds had heard of or even seen Jesus so there would have been an air of excitement and joy and their hearts would have been full of expectation and hope.
The origin of the tradition of laying cloaks before a king is uncertain, but it has happened once before, when the prophet Elisha called a son of one of the prophets, to anoint the army commander Jehu as King over the northern Kingdom of Israel, replacing the evil King Ahab. When Jehu’s men heard, they removed their garments and put them on the ground for Jehu to step on. (2Kings 9:13) What is your cloak that you wear, that you need to lay down in front of Jesus today? Is it our obsessive and impulsive negative behaviours and thought patterns, our anger, greed, our hatred, our unforgiveness or our self-righteousness? Let me encourage you to lay your ‘cloak’ at the foot of the cross of Jesus.
The Jewish pilgrims exclaimed ‘Hosanna.’ meaning ‘save us’ in Hebrew. I wonder if this was because they recognised that Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9. But they did not understand where Jesus’ Kingship would lead them. The Jews thought their next king would be like King David and he would lead them to freedom from the Romans. However, Jesus had a different way of leading, a different future for them. He turns things upside down by dying on the cross.
We could never have predicted what we all have just gone through this year. This pandemic certainly has stopped everyone in their everyday lives. It has allowed us time to reflect, given us time to lament, but it also is a time to praise, there are new opportunities and a new future because of it. The experience has changed all of us, but there are some things it has highlighted to each of us about ways of living and things we value.
As the pilgrims with Jesus travelled into Jerusalem, they praised God very openly, so I wonder, what do we need to give thanks to God for and praise his Holy name?
Let us pray, heavenly Father, hear our prayer. Lord, we magnify and glorify your Holy name. Thank you for walking with us through these dark days and help us to see your light. As Jesus rode humbly into Jerusalem, knowing what he must do, help us Lord to take off our cloaks of self-righteousness, and other negative behaviours, and help us to lay them at your feet. Amen