They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
When what you wear tells everyone around you who you are and what’s most likely in your bank account, then handing it over can be a really big deal.
It’s wearing your Rolex to the gym, or your stiletto Manolo Blahnik’s or Jimmy Choo’s to the grocery store; everybody gets it. You don’t need to show the money.
When what you wear on the outside tells your community that you might be somebody, laying it down in the mud only to be stepped on by some donkey becomes a public act of defiance. A defiance of all that you’ve been thinking might define you. You might as well throw that Rolex or those designer shoes into the trash can at Wal-Mart for all to see. It’s like you’re saying your stuff and who you are doesn’t matter.
But, maybe you’re poor. You got nuthin’. Choices or circumstances keep the cupboards bare. Everything hinges on the third week of the month. Almost everything you have has been given to you. You choose food or medicine, but never both.
Perhaps you are somewhere in the middle. What you have you worked really hard for. And what would your middle-class friends think if you just up and laid it down for another kingdom?
This week, the last week Jesus walked the planet, I find myself in all three places.
No, I don’t own a Rolex and my shoes, if a pair has a designer label on them at all, it’s because I got lucky at the consignment shop. If I dare to compare myself to most humans; the displaced, the trafficked, the marginalized, the war-bitten, then I am rich indeed.
How do I know?
Because, I rarely think twice about my toilet. I don’t have to scan my street for possible danger before going outside. I have at least 14 choices to choose from in my refrigerator. I am an American.
Yet, it is here that I am most assuredly somewhere in the middle. Working class parents, working class husband. Everything is worked for, everything is justified.
I need it.
I saved for it.
I earned it.
I borrowed against it.
It can actually be harder to let go of things when you’re in the middle.
I can be wretchedly poor as well. Perhaps not in the tangibles, but poor nonetheless. Poor in generosity and kindness. Poor in time management and fruitful living.
Poor in trust and belief.
There is something about following Jesus through his last week on earth that exposes what is lacking in me. Like those other branch-wavers and those coat layer-downers, at the beginning when things seem to be going according to plan, I am there, too, waving and laying it down.
Do it Jesus.
Do what you said you were going to do.
In the way we all think you should do it.
But then He doesn’t.
Instead, He literally upsets the apple cart and all the other carts and yells something about prayer being The Thing. Then He spends a couple of days talking about fig trees and fathers loving wayward sons and wanting to invite people to a marriage feast that no one else would really want to sit next to.
He breaks down all of the rules carved onto stone tablets and etched into parchment to just two: Love God. Love people.
This makes a lot of people really mad, and then they lose their minds when He says, “Boys, it ain’t about religion.” It only leads to hypocrisy…and wearing Rolex’s and designer shoes to the gym.
Jesus spends His last week on earth not giving the people what they want; freedom from the tyrannical boot of the Romans; that will come later. Instead He kicks out the weak beam of religion declaring there is a better foundation.
But some things need to happen first.
The washing of feet.
A garden taking on blood and sweat.
That’s when all the palm branch wavers and coat-layer downers scatter into the shadows. Things are not going according to plan.
Expectation is a funny thing. Hope is so tied to it that when expectation is tipped over onto its back, hope tends to run for the shadows, too.
Twenty years should be long enough to pray for a mother’s healing, right?
What about each and every child that birthed out of you? If you give them Jesus their whole growing up lives, they will still follow Him after they leave home, won’t they?
If you pray forty years for a skeptic to recognize the One who has loved him beyond measure, well, God’s gotta answer that one doesn’t He?
The last week Jesus walks the planet is a hard one. Religion and hypocrisy are being thrown up against the wall, the very life choked out of them. It is violent and bloody because it is the only way to kill evil and what leads to the death of our souls.
I wish that none would perish…
The only death Jesus is willing to embrace is His own.
No one is laying down a coat for that.
There is just one garment on the ground now and it belongs to the one dying on a cross.
It is here on a Calvary Hill where expectation and hope are restored to their rightful places. It is when resurrection breaks forth that an invitation to a table happens, a banqueting table, where the rich, the poor, and the ones in the middle get to sit and eat together with no falseness, no shame, no comparison and no coats. What we think defines us won’t matter anymore because we’ve shed the externals for what’s real.
We’ve been invited to a table where real love happens. The tears of the last week have been forever wiped away. There is so much joy, so much laughing.
Jesus is asking, “May I take your coat, please?”