The purple cloak.
I still remember it like it was yesterday. The salty Jerusalem air was mixed with more than just desert sand and the sweet fragrance of ripened dates. A sense of anticipation and excitement bubbled inside my little heart as I made my way into town that day. I stood along the side of the road, my beat up sandals sinking into the rich, dampened black mud that coated the street. It was mostly made of dried up clay and dirt, but this was the road many travelers had taken just passing through, and it was a road we used every day, as a main street toting our wares and busying ourselves with the every-day coming and goings in our buzzing little town. I was wearing my favorite purple cloak that had faded into a soft, aubergine color from the numerous times I wore it. I know purple is usually reserved for royalty, and you're probably wondering what a meager common shepherd girl like me was doing with such rich fabric, but my mother had made it for me with some leftover scraps she had from sewing royal dresses for a centurion's wife. She didn't care that most of my time was spent in the nearby fields keeping watch over my sheep and no one could care two twits what I was wearing, including myself, but my mother had hand made me this cloak with love, and it became one of my most valued possessions. I wore it out in the fields, I wore it into town while picking up supplies, I even used it as a blanket to keep me warm at night.
Today the crowds were bustling and cheerful. I had heard talk of this teacher named Jesus, but I had never seen him for myself. I had heard of the stirring he caused, both great and miraculous things he had done and thought I would very much like to meet him someday. I didn't understand why anyone could not like him, but of course there were those who had nothing kind to say, and I just tuned them out. I tried to imagine what Jesus might look like, what might he be. I was busy in my thoughts, when I heard shouts from the crowd, "Hosanna!"
"Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!"
What was this? Was this really, him, the Jesus I was just thinking about? I felt joy and excitement bubbling up. I longed to see him! I darted between legs and floating fabric to try and get a better look. What would he look like? I imagined a regal King cloaked in deep hues of crimson riding a majestic warrior horse. I imagined a sword by his side and his fierce eyes looking down at us with grandeur and honor.
The crowds were roaring, heady with his appearance, clapping, dancing, singing, palm branches swaying in outstretched arms. I finally weaved my way to the road's edge where there was no one to block my view. I saw him. I knew it was him the moment I saw him. I could not believe my eyes. There was Jesus, riding on a small colt, slowly making his way towards us. A colt? A baby donkey? Where was his horse? Where was his crown? I couldn't stop staring as he slowly approached. I think I loved him right then, surprised to see him looking hardly grand, but the inside of my heart secretly loving that He, a great and wonderful man, riding on a humble colt, still looking very much like a king to me. A kind and honorable king. I felt worship and praise bubbling in my heart. What could I do? I thought frantically. I wanted to offer my loyalty and honor to him, I had nothing! I am a shepherd girl! How does a dirty shepherd girl salute a king? How does she show him she loves him and express her heart of joy and adoration to him?
I looked down at my small, calloused hands, tears threatening to spill. I was running out of time and He was almost close enough to pass me. There were boisterous voices singing, "Hosanna! Hosanna in the Highest!" I sang them too, my heart full of love for Him, but also feeling helpless that I had nothing to offer him.
And then it dawned on me. He slowly rode, the colt beneath him working her way forward, her eyes and demeanor strangely calm and unaffected by the chaos and noise of the crowds. Her eyes soft and determined, it seemed she knew the weight and importance of this beloved King on her back. She would carry him with dignity and honor, she was humbled she was chosen to escort this lowly King.
Jesus was practically close enough for me to touch. I quickly slipped off my purple cloak and gently laid it on the ground before him. I kneeled. I wanted to give this beloved King the honor He was due, and though I had nothing, I could give him the cloak on my back for him to walk upon, to keep his feet from splattered dirt, and make the path for him smooth.
The colt stepped forward, onto my cloak, gentle steps, practically floating past, graceful she was. I looked up and at the moment, Jesus looked right at me. He looked right into my soul, right into my heart, and I loved him and worshipped him. His eyes were soft and kind and full of love. I was humbled and quiet as He moved past.
I was forever changed that day. The Jesus I had heard so much about, I had finally seen, I had looked him in the eye and offered my heart, my praise, the cloak on my back. He had seen me, a lowly shepherd girl, and He accepted me and my tiny offer of praise. I would from then on, commit my life to Him, and I knew He wasn't just a man among men, He was the King of Kings, and I would proclaim Him as my Lord.
Thank you for going on an imaginative journey with me, I often wonder what it really would have been like to be there that day, the Triumphal Entry, as Mark writes about in the 11th chapter. It is a joy for me to think of the anticipation, the celebration, the eagerly waiting for Jesus to arrive. It also reminds me as I read those chapters of my life right now, and how we eagerly wait, with longing and excitement for our King to arrive again. And how are we giving our all, our offerings, no matter how small or grand to Him? Is it the cloak on your back? Is it your two coins? Is it your entire heart? He is worthy of it all. And what a lifetime of rejoicing it will be when that day does indeed come. Until then, sing with me in the longing and expectation, "Hosanna in the Highest!"