top of page

Walking The Way of Life on Palm Sunday

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the world-famous fictitious detective Sherlock Holmes, was waiting for a taxi outside the railway station in Paris.

A taxi driver pulled up. He put Conan Doyle's suitcase in, got in himself and asked, “Where can I take you, Mr Doyle?”.

Doyle was astounded. He asked the driver if he recognised him by sight. The driver said, “No sir, I have never seen you before.”

Puzzled, he asked how the driver knew he was Conan Doyle. The driver responded,

“This morning’s paper reported that you were on vacation in Marseilles. This is the taxi stand where people who return from Marseilles always wait. Your skin colour tells me you were on holiday. The ink spot on your right index finger suggests that you are a writer. Your clothing is English, not French. Adding up all those pieces of information, I deduce that you are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”

Doyle exclaimed, “This is truly amazing. You are a real-life counterpart to my fictional character, Sherlock Holmes.”

“There is one other thing,” the driver said.

“What’s that?” Doyle asked. “Your name is on the front of your suitcase.”

We recently went to France to celebrate my birthday, and as much as I love travelling, it can be pretty stressful at times. It can be quite tiring if you’re not used to it and even scary if you’re not sure what to expect.

Jesus travelled around the country a lot and had just spent the night at a friend's home in Bethany on the opposite side of the Mount of Olives from Jerusalem.

The sun was rising. It was beginning to shoot its golden rays across the horizon, gilding the sky and bringing a new day to the city of Jerusalem. The old city was filled with pilgrims, visitors, and travellers who had journeyed from many countries to share in the feast.

An exciting rumour spread through the city: “Jesus is coming!”

Now, I'm sure I don’t need to retell the story. But did you know Bethany and Jerusalem were no more than five miles apart? So it was just a short journey into the city for Jesus, but such an important one.

Historians tell us that traditionally, people from the different regions had their favourite area in and around Jerusalem where they camped for feast days. For years, the south end of the Mount of Olives had been the camping grounds of people from Galilee. These were the unsophisticated and unspoiled, ordinary people of the area where Jesus spent most of His time and performed most of His miracles. They were the people who knew Him best.

Passover was—and is—a celebration commemorating the deliverance of the Jews from Egyptian captivity. All who lived within 20 miles of Jerusalem were required to attend, and Jews from across the country gathered for this significant event. As excitement mounts with the approach of our holidays, an air of exhilaration preceded Passover. Extensive preparations were made for any journey undertaken then or now.

Jesus went to Bethany six days before Passover to spend time with friends and then entered Jerusalem. As with any journey, preparation is key. Jesus needed a donkey to fulfil the prophecy of Zechariah, who said the Messiah would enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey.

All those who gathered along the route He was to ride must have learned in infancy and often repeated the prophecy:

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).

Not a high-spirited war steed or prancing white stallion, but on a colt, an animal associated with peace often ridden by judges.

Pilgrims often follow Christ’s route from Bethany to Jerusalem. As Christ’s pivotal moment arrived, He and His entourage mounted the crest of the Mount of Olives, and suddenly, the vista of the Holy City burst into panoramic view.

The exuberant and impetuous crowd on the Mount of Olives shouted, “Hosanna.” In that shouting crowd were people who owed Him gratitude for their restored sight, straight limbs, clear, sane reasoning, and healed bodies. They took up palm branches and waved them.

They were in a party mood.

Then Jesus descended from the Mount of Olives into the Kedron Valley and started His approach through the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem. It would be there that He would later encounter the hostile crowd intent on appeasing the Romans, who would later shout,

“Crucify Him!”.

The owner of the donkey eagerly wanted to obey.

But I wonder what Jesus was thinking about and how he felt as he entered Jerusalem on the donkey. Did the cheering crowd give him courage for the week ahead and the final steps of his journey to the cross, or did he know all that was to come and what he would have to face?

The crowd reaction of that day is not so different from the various responses of today. Mark, in his gospel, makes an interesting observation regarding Christ’s immediate followers: “Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed, they were afraid…” (Mark 10:32). They went together, following Jesus into the unknown with a mix of fear and amazement. Unsure about what the future would hold.

On our journey of faith, do we travel with amazement at what we see, amazed by the new sights and sounds we encounter, or do we travel in fear, worried about what calamities we might face? We often find our journeys are made easier if we travel together and if we know someone who has been there before.

As Christians, we travel with Jesus, our companion, who also knows what we face ahead.

When Jesus travels before you, are you amazed or afraid? There is no need to be scared. The disciples were not fearful enough to walk away or intimidated by their fear—they followed.

Courage isn’t not having any fear. It is doing what you know is right in spite of your fear. So they followed in spite of their fear. They also travelled together, knew each other, and spent time together.

Following Christ involves courage, enthusiasm, and confidence, amongst many things. As we travel with him will we have the confidence to let him lead us despite our worries, concerns and our fears?

Are we prepared to let him lead us even when we are not sure of the journey or the twists and turns of the route?

Jesus leads us and goes before us. God knows us and what lies ahead and gives us what we need as we travel the path he calls us to.


bottom of page