“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he.”Zechariah 9:9
On the 20th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood, Bishop Dale Howard visited our parish to help us commemorate that milestone. In his sermon at the Eucharist he compared me to an ass. He said that the ass upon which Jesus sat as He came into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday thought that the celebration was all about him. There was much for the residents of Jerusalem to celebrate that day, but the appearance of an ass was not one of those things. He was a necessary part of the event. His presence was a fulfillment of prophecy. But the ass was not the focal point of the celebration. Bishop Howard then said, “You are that ass. You may think we are here to celebrate you—your ministry—but this celebration is not about you. It’s about Jesus. This service is a celebration of Jesus. But rejoice! Our Lord spoke through an ass before; He can do it again.”
In this third week of Lent we will enter Zion. But, we will not be the focal point of the entry celebration. Nevertheless, in the same way that the arrival in Jerusalem of the ass upon which Jesus sat fulfilled prophecy, and like the return of the exiles from Babylon is a fulfillment of prophecy, so our entry into Zion is likewise a fulfillment of the prophetic word. We enter into the New Jerusalem through the Person of Jesus Christ. We were baptized into Christ, and we were marked as Christ’s own forever. In the revelation given to St. John, the Apostle says, “Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads” (Rev. 14:1). We are marked. We have His mark on our forehead—on our lives. And by His sacrifice we are made worthy to be numbered with the saints. We enter Jerusalem through the Lamb. Our entry into the New Jerusalem is about Jesus. It is a celebration of Jesus.
We have left captivity. We have made the journey to Zion. Now it is time to enter. And there is work to do. We rejoice. We build. We establish our homes, our very lives, in Jesus. It is a tremendous gift to call Jerusalem our home. But every home requires care. The exiles had much rebuilding to do once they had arrived in the Promised Land. But there was opposition. There were obstacles that had to be overcome. What must we do? As we continue our progress through the Songs of Ascent, let us look at what the Psalms of this third week teach us about entering into the New Jerusalem.