John 12:12-19

The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.  So, they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord – the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written: “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him.  So, the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to testify.  It was also because they heard that he had performed this sign that the crowd went to meet him.  The Pharisees then said to one another, “You see, you can do nothing.  Look, the world has gone after him!”

Reflection – Patsy Jeffcoat

This passage from John 12 takes place just after Jesus has raised Lazarus from the dead and Lazarus’s sister Mary anoints Jesus’ feet.  Jesus defends Mary’s choice by speaking of his coming crucifixion saying, “you won’t always have me.” 

These verses are often called the “Triumphal Entry,” where worshiping crowds come to welcome Jesus to Jerusalem as a king.  He is greeted with adulation, but his arrival is not exactly what the crowds or the disciples expected.  Rather than arriving on a horse suited for battle, Jesus arrives on a donkey’s colt, a symbol of humility and peace.  John quotes Zechariah 9:9 which foretold of the king coming on a donkey’s colt, but notes that the disciples did not understand what this meant until after Jesus was glorified.

The fact that Jesus’ disciples had such a basic misunderstanding of Jesus’ purpose and mission at this point in his ministry is somehow comforting to me. These people lived with Jesus. He spoke with them directly. He taught them and tried to help them understand. Still, they missed so much. Like the disciples, I often don’t truly understand until I am looking back on events and the evidence is clear.

As a child, I was often told that we couldn’t understand it all “this side of glory,” and as the old hymn says, “We’ll Understand it Better By and By.” I am grateful to be a part of a church that “Deep Dives” into scripture and helps each other understand God’s calling in our lives now. I am thankful that we strive to understand and live out Jesus’ teachings as best we can, even if we don’t always get it right. I am also relieved to know that it’s okay that we don’t yet fully understand.  As 1 Corinthians 13:12 tells us, “Now I know only in part; then I will know fully.” Thanks be to God.