As Jesus prepared for His death, He also attempted to prepare His disciples for His betrayal, crucifixion, and resurrection. He didn’t want His followers and closest friends to be caught off guard. Although they confessed Him as their Messiah, they still didn’t realize what this fully meant. They incorrectly believed Jesus would overthrow their Roman oppressors and rise up as the true King of the Jews. In His entry into Jerusalem just five days before His death, Jesus wanted to set the record straight one last time. Instead of asking for a white stallion, he requested a donkey’s colt. Conquering kings don’t enter their kingdoms on humble donkeys.
Jesus doesn’t want us to be caught off guard either. When we put our hope and trust in the wrong things—political leaders, money, our love lives, ourselves—we too might miss the humble Servant-King riding on a donkey. But when we Prepare our hearts through Repentance, Addition, Subtraction, Simplicity, Remembrance, and Confession, we recognize what Jesus’ message has been all along: “Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28, NRSV)
During this Holy Week, as we prepare our own hearts, pay attention as Jesus prepares His disciples and reminds them of this central message: as He is anointed with oil, as He serves the Last Supper, as He washes their feet, and as He reaches out even while dying on the cross.