As Jesus was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,
“Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.
In our passage today, Jesus has entered the city of Jerusalem in triumph. He is greeted by the multitudes as a king; making the events that would transpire in the following days, his arrest and death, even more ironic. As he entered the city of Jerusalem upon the road that is now known as the Triumphal Entry, the multitude of disciples praised God, saying: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” Jesus was the king they had all been waiting for, the king who would save them from their oppression while under Roman rule.
Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is celebrated by Christians around the world today and is known as Palm Sunday. In Jerusalem, Christians from all over the world process from the Mount of Olives, descending to the Garden of Gethsemane, and then ascending the holy hill to the Old City of Jerusalem, ending at St. Anne’s Church. Carrying palm branches and praising God in many languages, these crowds, made up of pilgrims, religious communities, and local Christians, follow the path that Jesus would have taken as he entered the city.
While this was indeed a triumphal moment, we often overlook what Jesus did as he approached the city. He wept. Today, the place where Jesus wept is marked on the Mount of Olives by the holy site known as Dominus Flavit. Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem because he knew what was to come, and how the people did not recognize the things that make for peace, because they were hidden from them. Just as quickly as they rushed to wave palm branches in his honor, they would rush to crucify him only a few days later.
As we celebrate this Palm Sunday morning, waving palm branches and singing joyful songs, let us also reflect on the things that make for peace; understanding that they might be hidden from us. In the case of Jerusalem today, when the situation is so complex, we begin with prayer. We continue, in this Lenten season, to pray for the peace of Jerusalem—a sacred city for the three Abrahamic faiths and all those who call it holy. We recognize that we may not always see the things that lead to peace, so we ask that God would open our eyes.
Give us the eyes to see the things that lead to peace. We continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem with humility, knowing that we may not always know what is best, but that you do. Open our eyes to the things that make for peace, and remove any hindrances that may stand in our way, whether they be of our own making, or not. Be with Christians around the world who are celebrating Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem today, and be with us as we enter into Holy Week, remembering your death, burial, and resurrection.
In the name of Christ we pray, Amen.
This devotion was written by Molly Lorden, the CMEP1835 Coordinator for Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP). She is also currently studying toward a Master of Divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary.
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