On November 15, 2015, a young black man named Jamar Clark was shot and killed by police officers in Minneapolis, MN. The incident sparked months of protests, as members of the community demanded justice for Jamar. As eyewitness accounts were reviewed, one thing became clear – everybody who witnessed the event saw and heard something different. Even as videos were examined, people watching the very same video saw very different things. To this day, the truth of what happened remains a mystery, with people on both sides of the debate continuing to disagree about what really happened.
As Jesus entered Jerusalem, many crowds gathered. Some celebrated Jesus, spreading cloaks and palm branches on the road as a sign of respect and honor for their hero. Others saw a troublemaker and demanded he calm the crowds for fear of rioting. The fact is there were many eyewitnesses, and many differing accounts of what was happening. Even today there are as many differing accounts of who Jesus is as there are people on the planet. Some laud Jesus as God, others as a wise prophet, others as a crazy person, and many as irrelevant. Among us who witness Jesus as God, opinions vary about how Jesus shows up in the world today. Congregations can be strengthened by allowing the many voices to be heard, and the infinite ways Jesus is perceived to be shared.
When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he 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. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”