As a middle school student, I was a member of the “Red Hat Marching Band.” We were 200 strong in number and looked rather impressive as we marched down the street in our clean crisp uniforms and, crowning our heads, the famous red cowboy hat. We marched in several community parades and local festivals; however, the highlight of the marching season was the annual trip to the state fair.
Parade days were always exciting. We’d arrive early to school, change into our uniforms, engage in “meaningful” conversations and board the bus. Upon arriving at our destination, Mr. Olson, our band teacher, gave his final words of instruction and we assembled ourselves in the staging area. Brass instruments to the front, woodwinds in the back, drum line strategically placed in the middle, and leading us down the parade route our three drum majors. Once assembled in position, we quieted and waited for the command to “step-off.” The drum majors called us to attention with their whistles, two long blasts followed by four short. The drum line would begin to play the cadence and we stepped off and make our way down the parade route.
Scripture gives reference to a parade, the arrival of Jesus to the city of Jerusalem. The event is recorded in each of the four gospels, one of only a handful of events from the life of Jesus represented in each account. The narratives, when layered upon each other, provide a colorful snapshot, capturing a moment of time, “a day in the life of Jesus.”
The events begin with Jesus and His disciples traveling on the road from Jericho. They pass through the town of Bethany and the small village of Bethphage, approaching Jerusalem from the east. This route ascends several mounts and provides spectacular views of the capital city. As they near the small village of Bethphage, Jesus sends two of His disciples ahead to fetch a donkey and her colt. As instructed, the disciples find the animals and bring them to Jesus, removing their outer garments and placing them on the animals as they do so. Jesus then sits upon the colt and rides the remaining distance. Others join in as they make their way. The Matthew narrative indicates that a “very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of Him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’” (21:8–9)
Luke adds, “The whole crowd began joyfully to praise God in loud voices” (19:37). Again, from Matthew’s account, “the whole city was stirred and asked ‘Who is this?’” (21:10).
The pomp and circumstance must have caused many to turn their heads. The paparazzi would have had a field day capturing the moment. The evening news would have reported, “In glorious fashion, Jesus, a prophet from Nazareth, welcomed.” No doubt the disciples couldn’t have fallen asleep easily that evening as they replayed in their minds the activities of the day.
Many incidents of that day provide timeless truths regarding the character of Jesus. His humility is demonstrated by riding on a colt, not a stallion. His compassion is shown when, “As He approached the city, He wept over it” (Luke 19:41). The peace and praise that naturally flow from Him and to Him is evident in His riding upon an untamed animal and by the exuberant shouts He attracted from the crowds that thronged to Him.
It is one quiet moment in the account, however, that I find myself drawn to as a defining moment of immense significance. It occurs before all the pomp and circumstance, before the joyful celebration, before the accolades and cheers from the crowds. It involves only three people, none of whom are the main character. The setting is rather simple and involves those two animals tied to a post that Jesus instructs two disciples to fetch. As they untie the animals, the startled owner asks, “What and why?” They reply, “The Lord needs it.”
A decision has to be made. What will the owner do? He surrenders his prized possessions to be used by Jesus.
What do I possess, securely tied down, that I must surrender to Jesus to be used by Him? Am I willing to do so? Are you?
By Major Darryl Leedom