Today we have 2 texts from John to hear and reflect on. One continues with the trial of Jesus and the other sets up all the actions of Holy Week.
We begin with going back in John’s gospel to chapter 12 and we are told of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Now, I want you to take some time and really read this passage. John gives us a number of little details here that the other gospels don’t. There is so much to pull out so just some pointers for now and we’ll explore more of some of this on Sunday.
This is the passage where we first hear “King of Israel “. We also get the word Hosanna. The Hebrew word that is used here translates to “save us” or “rescue us”. So rather than a hoorah this use of Hosanna is a cry to be saved. There is also a connection here with Zechariah 9:9-10 which describes the king coming to Jerusalem riding a donkey commanding peace to all the nations, stopping the chariots of war, and causing the battles to cease. This king does indeed save the people from war and danger but not with military might.
Did you notice that John does not have Jesus riding the donkey when he enters the city gates? It is only after the crowds have come out to meet Jesus that he finds a young donkey and sits on it. Also note how early in the gospel of John this entry into Jerusalem takes place. We are only just over halfway through the gospel and not in the final three or four chapters where the other gospels place this event.
We then move back to the trial that we have been spending time with over the last couple of weeks. We hear the power plays, the concept of what a King is like and the expectations of the King’s actions. And we know the change there has been from Hosanna to Crucify.
As I mentioned the other week, the wheels were turning as the processes of trial, judgement and then punishment happen. The Roman way of doing things, and the cruelty that we see won’t stop now.
John is the only gospel that has Jesus carrying his cross by himself. The other gospels tell us of Simon of Cyrene helping him when Jesus can no longer carry it. There is a distinct loneliness about this journey to the cross from according to John. It also makes me think about the concept we have of carrying our cross, or of a particular fault or foible we have to carry as our cross.
Then there is the naming of Jesus as King of the Jews in all the languages of the then known world. John gives us much more dialogue around this sign than the other gospels. Does the right to name Jesus still leave Pilate with the power to dismiss Jesus’ presence and show just how powerful the Romans are? I think that is what Pilate is hoping for.
Lot of questions, lots of thoughts, let’s explore them more on Sunday!