For a noted Rabbi drawing near to Jerusalem, an accompanying happy procession was not unknown. Small wonder then that when Jesus came into Jerusalem in this way, it was a cause of great joy; significant joy, recorded by Matthew, Luke and Mark in ways that are very similar. Mark’s account has all the ingredients the others have – the obtaining of an ass, the setting out from the Mount of Olives, a significant act in itself as it was along this route that the Messiah was to come, the cheering crowds throwing cloaks and branches in the pathway, and then – and then, in the other Synoptic Gospels, comes the cleansing of the Temple. There is no specific statement that this event followed immediately after the entry into Jerusalem, and the probability is that it followed the next day, but Mark is more specific and the ‘then’ is almost anticlimactic, perhaps the reason the other Gospel writers omitted to mention it: Jesus looked around at everything, going back to Bethany for the night.
Sounds a bit dull? Not for me; for me it makes absolute sense that Jesus would go to look about the Temple; the focus of pilgrimage, entering into the glory of the place, wondering at the structure, sharing in prayer, noting the good and noting the corrupt, then taking time to prayerfully reflect on it all that evening and night. Although Mark says only ‘he’ I am sure that Jesus’ disciples would have been around; the remark that he went out to Bethany with them would seem to support this. The next day he would return, and then the confrontation would begin as he overturned the tables of the money-changers, but for now, following a joyful, worshipful time in procession, he and his disciples took time to relax together and wander about seeing the sights like any other young men up from the country; a companiable time made extra valuable for Jesus, I suspect, through his awareness of all that was to come.
Which makes me think, how much do I value time with friends – even just short times together? And how often do I take time to really look around and reflect on all I see, with others or alone? It’s no bad idea to try both, especially if the time ahead is going to be fraught. After all, if it was good enough for Jesus . . .