The feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was now drawing near, and the chief priests and the scribes were looking for some way of doing away with him, because they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered into Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was one of the Twelve.
He approached the chief priests and the officers of the guard to discuss some way of handing Jesus over to them. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He accepted and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them without people knowing about it.
The day of Unleavened Bread came round, on which the Passover had to be sacrificed, and he sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and make the preparations for us to eat the Passover.’
They asked him, ‘Where do you want us to prepare it?’
He said to them, ‘Look, as you go into the city you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him into the house he enters and tell the owner of the house, “The Master says this to you: Where is the room for me to eat the Passover with my disciples?” The man will show you a large upper room furnished with couches. Make the preparations there.’
They set off and found everything as he had told them and prepared the Passover.
When the time came he took his place at table, and the apostles with him.
And he said to them, ‘I have ardently longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; because, I tell you, I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’
Then, taking a cup, he gave thanks and said, ‘Take this and share it among you, because from now on, I tell you, I shall never again drink wine until the kingdom of God comes.’
Then he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’
He did the same with the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood poured out for you.”
Holy Week begins with an unruly crowd looking for excitement and spectacle. This is ‘crowd mentality’; this is diversion; this is a public expression of national and religious pride that suits everyone except the Romans. And that certainly suits Jesus’ enemies. The common people will be dismayed when Jesus does not take on the role of freedom fighter; the religious will become more intimidated at Jesus’ actions in the Temple and the Romans will simply seek to assert control.
Whether they believe that this man could be the Messiah is a moot point- it is a festival time and hope springs eternal. In the main they will be let down – Jesus is not that kind of man. Jesus has committed himself to a path that will end in betrayal, suffering and death. His choice has been made at the gates of David’s city; the opportunity for escape into the Lenten wilderness- lost.
Today, we have the choice of how this entry in Jerusalem will continue for us. Will we follow on; sharing as much time as we can with Jesus in the days to come or will we allow ourselves to be distracted by the rest of the world; by the busyness of our lives – only remembering who it was we were cheering when the time comes to condemn him for having not lived up to our expectations.