Triumphal Entries and Exits (A Poem for Palm Sunday)

Jesus enters Jerusalem seated
On the back of a jackass--
Not the mode of transport
Other kings would have chosen.
"Triumphal Entry" feels like
A name given with sarcastic irony.
Yet, the donkey was a symbol of peace,
Not of war like the more "kingly" horse.
And still, the people line the streets,
Paving His way with their cloaks
And branches cut from nearby
Palm trees lining the desert paths.

The people shout words of worship
From the Psalms:
"Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes
In the name of the Lord!"
Do they forget that the same Psalm
Also says that "the stone the builders
Rejected has become the cornerstone"?
That Christ will be rejected?
He is full aware. Yet He savors this moment.
His eyes are not full of pride
Nor victory nor haughtiness,
But full of compassion and joy.

Within the week He will be
Led out of Jerusalem
Amidst cursing and hateful shouting.
He has never called Himself King,
Yet that is the charge against Him.
That is what He will be killed for.
This is His coronation:
A crown of thorns,
Being stripped and flogged,
Nails instead of a scepter.
Yet as He climbs the hill,
A look into His eyes reveals
Not anger or hatred or fear,
But once again compassion.

His entry and exit of Jerusalem
Are not so much about
These events or the actions
Of those who were there;
Instead, they reveal to us
The footsteps we must follow
If we are to call Him Lord.
His eyes show us that we, too,
Must strive to look upon those
Around us--whether they praise
Or condemn us--with compassion.

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