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The Thrill of Hope

(a Steve Orr scripture reflection)


We disagree, we Jesus folk. Still, there are a few things upon which, regardless of the Christian tradition we follow, we all agree. One of them is described in this week’s Mark 11 and John 12 passages: One day Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. And, for one brief shining moment, the crowd saw him as he truly was: their King.


Imagine the city swelled with visitors readying for the Passover later in the week. Now imagine a man living near the city gate. He started his day having to shoulder his way through the crowds so he could select the lamb for his own family's Passover meal. Now, enjoying the relatively spacious elbow room of his rooftop, he is cooking that lamb. A part of his mind is on the story of the first Passover and how, because of the blood of those first Passover lambs, the Angel of Death passed over the homes of his ancestors.  


Another part of his mind is considering what everyone has been talking about: this man, Jesus, who supposedly walks on water, heals the sick, and even raises the dead! Everyone has been speculating. Maybe—just maybe, at long last—their deliverance has come. Maybe this Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One, the King who will throw off the shackles of Rome.


The man’s thoughts are interrupted. He hears a commotion, over by the city gate. He raises his eyes to take in something that, at first, he can hardly believe. He sees a man riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. He sees a growing crowd pulling off their cloaks and laying them, along with young palm fronds, onto the path before the donkey.


He feels a frisson of energy charge up his spine.  


Everything is there just as predicted by the prophets: the donkey, the crowds, the shouts of "Hosanna!" and "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of The Lord!" Suddenly he finds himself running down the steps, out the door, toward the gate; hears his own voice joining those of strangers and neighbors in joyful expression of what has been pent up for so long! 


He is shouting and laughing and crying, living to the fullest the greatest moment of his life. All is well!! All will be well! At last, at last. Their savior has come.


People with a great desire to believe in their hope are charged with an energy that is truly mind-blowing in its intensity. It’s the thrill of hope. If we can even come close to that in our own joy, we will begin to understand the truth of our current relationship with God. But if we slide over this scene in scripture, we miss that thrill of hope. We must go back for it. 


If we truly are believers, then this is how we must see Jesus, triumphantly arriving as our King.


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