The Narrative Lectionary snaps us backward in the storyline of John’s Gospel this week. I suppose the liturgical calendar overrides the Narrative Lectionary. Palm Sunday and the Triumphal Entry is a pretty big deal. That said, here is my visual meditation on the Triumphal Entry as it is recorded in the Gospel of John 12:12-27.
We must start back in Chapter 11 in order to understand the tension of this story…
John 11:45-57 is the key to understanding why the religious leaders needed to kill Jesus.
Jesus fled to Ephraim for a while, then he came back to Bethany in John 12:1-8, to visit with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Mary anoints his feet there.
John 12:9-11. Lazarus’ resurrection is what ignites this whole firestorm.
John 12:12-13. Palm branches were the symbol of victory. The crowd sings Psalm 118:26 (probably the whole Psalm, actually). They expect that Jesus will be the new King who brings victory over the Romans. Pilate’s soldiers are ready for battle (that’s my insertion. The text doesn’t say that).
John 12:14-16. Jesus rode in on a donkey. John interprets this through Zechariah 9:9-10. Jesus surprises everyone and does not bring a battle. Instead, he brings peace and submission (remember that the next scene is his washing the disciples’ feet in John 13:1-11).
John 12:17-18. John reminds us that the real reason the crowd was there was because the witnesses to Lazarus’ resurrection were testifying to the amazing sign.
John 12:19. The leaders’ worst fears are coming true.
John 12:20-22. John gives us a word play. The leaders mention the World, and who walks up; a bunch of Greeks. This scene takes us back to John 1:35-51 where Jesus calls these same disciples. They want to see where Jesus abides, and he says, “Come and See.” Now, the world is coming to the disciples, because they, too, want to see where Jesus abides.
This is it. Now that the world is ready to see, Jesus is ready to lift up what the love of God and the Kingdom of God really looks like. He is about to lay his life down for the sake of the sheep of all colors. His death will produce fruit in abundance for the sake of the world.