On the Way – Mark 9:1-11

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King

11 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethanyat the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”

They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,


“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[b]

10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

It may seem premature that we are looking at this passage today. After all, Lent is only just beginning. We still have a 40 day preparation ahead of us before, on Palm Sunday, we will turn again to this passage and think about Jesus and his ride into destiny as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is still weeks before we will celebrate Maundy Thursday, or Good Friday, or Easter Sunday. It is still a long way to Jerusalem, Golgotha, the cross, and the empty tomb.

Still, it is right that we begin our journey here. Because it reminds us in the clearest of ways that Jesus was – Jesus is – more than a rabbi. He is King.

Too often, we think Lent is all about giving up something we like – maybe chocolate or coffee. It is so much more. It is about committing ourselves to the way of the cross, just as Jesus did. What does that mean, specifically for us? That can only be discerned by prayerful consideration. We must pray, wait, listen, gather strength, then – move on – to where God is calling us.

It is good then that at the beginning of Lent we remind ourselves that Jesus went to Jerusalem as a simple religious pilgrim. He went to meet his destiny and change the world forever.

There is no turning back, not if we are to be faithful. We must follow. We must have courage. We must find what God wants us to do – who God wants us to be – in our own time and place.

That’s what Jesus did. May we be willing to do whatever it takes to find our own way to Jerusalem – and beyond.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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