Some five hundred years before Christ, the prophet Zechariah was one of the prophets sent by God to exhort the returning exiles. The call to repentance and to rebuild the temple are part of deliverance and salvation. Zechariah's apocalyptic symbolism was seen as Messianic, and it is quoted often in the Gospels.
We need the Holy Spirit to enlighten us to see this revelation of God. Our nous, the spiritual sight, and heart must be purified and enlightened. Unbelief and false belief veil our eyes. We see Jesus but do not recognize Messiah. Seeing is not believing, believing, however, is seeing!
As Jesus enters the city, Matthew uses the word for earthquake to describe the tumult. The city is shaken, something which will happen again at the crucifixion and at the resurrection. We are invited to let our hearts be shaken as well, to be freed of our long held false beliefs and false attachments.
During the last three weeks, we have endured a type of exile, though ironically it has been in our own homes. We are, most of us, enclosed in a pleasant place, with our daily needs provided, but we are enclosed none the less. Our freedom has been curtailed and their have been losses, not the least of which, the loss of our common worship in this physical place. Cut off from the altar and sanctuary, we live in a time where the future is less secure. We know that the words "poor and needy" describe a larger portion of the society today than they did when Lent began. We know that many more will suffer and die (do not forget the locust plague in Africa and the Middle East). The world cries out for help and they want someone to save them from sickness and financial woe. The world needs a savior, but will they recognize Jesus? Or will they fail to see the truth?
Things have changed fast for us, but it has always been so. One day we wake to find that all is new. Isn't that what the disciples experienced? On Palm Sunday we remember Jesus riding into Jerusalem, the people singing "Hosanna!" The psalm they were singing was a celebration, the apostles were no doubt swept up in the excitement.
Jesus, however, knew what lay ahead: His ultimate battle with the flesh, the world and the devil. Thursday night He will wrestle with Satan's temptation and His own human desires, sorrow and distress. He will emerge triumphant and go willingly to death. The church and state, priest and procurator, will collude and have Him killed. It is always so, the human institutions are reluctant to bend the knee. Satan will work through those human institutions to kill Jesus. The crowds, which He freed, healed and fed, will suddenly turn against Him, too. The bewildering speed is a reminder that "things can change fast."
For the disciples, at the end of the week, today's celebration will feel like a terrible deceit. On Saturday (the day of rest) Jesus lies silent in the tomb, while they hide in fear. But things change fast, and the gloom and doom of Holy Saturday will not be the last word.
We are living in difficult times. The sufferings increase, the worries and concerns expand. The solutions to the problems we face, as is always the case, create new problems. Yet, do not be deceived. Jesus is Lord. Keep your eyes on Him, whatever the circumstance. Keep your eye on Him, in good time or bad. Keep your eye on Him, Who came to die for you.