I love this fresco by Franz Plattner of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. It is in the choir of the parish church of Zirl, Tyrol, Austria. Jesus straddles a donkey and its colt, neither of which you can see. Unused to being ridden, they bear the burden of Jesus' weight and his heavy heart. Unseen they cope with the press and noise of the crowd.
The mixture of emotions in Jesus and the people with him is not what you might expect for 'Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem'. This is no triumphant procession. Jesus looks calm, but as if he is grieving for the city he enters, or steeling himself to face the trials he knows must come. He rides to his death. There is nothing triumphant about this picture. The people are not cheering 'hooray'. Most look confused or fearful. Some seem to be crying out to God 'save us now!' There is a powerful sense of things coming to a head, a point of no return, or as N.T. Wright puts it in an article in Religion and Ethics, On Palm Sunday, Jesus Rides into the Perfect Storm.
Jesus isn't speaking. He is silent. He has already said much that has created enemies who want to get rid of him. Already people are pointing accusing fingers. If Jesus had wished to save himself, it is too late to maintain a prudent silence.
Michel Quoist wrote this in his prayer, 'It's too late':
Lord, it's too late for you to be quiet, you have spoken too much;
you have fought too much;
you were not sensible, you know, you exaggerated, its was
bound to happen.
You called the better people a brood of vipers;
you told them that their hearts were black sepulchres
with fine exteriors;
you kissed the decaying lepers;
you spoke fearlessly with unacceptable strangers;
you ate with notorious sinners, and you said that street-walkers
would be the first in paradise;
you got on well with the poor, the tramps, the cripples;
you belittled the religious regulations;
your interpretation of the Law reduced it to one little commandment:
Now they are avenging themselves.
they have taken steps against you; they have approached
the authorities and action will follow."
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons