triumphal entry? or pilgrimage?

by maggi dawn

A couple of years back, researching for my book Giving It Up I read a fair few scholarly tomes on the gospels, particularly those parts that relate to Lent and Holy Week.
One interesting idea I came across was that Mark’s account of the Triumphal Entry – if you read between the lines – seems to suggest that Jesus and his disciples were joining a pre-planned march that was -at the outset at least – nothing to do with Jesus, but was a regular pilgrimage. He was joining everyone else on a pilgrimage to look forward to the hoped-for Messiah, the coming “Son of David”. It was only on the way down the hill that attention focused on Him – or perhaps even it was only in retrospect that his followers looked back on that day and put all the pieces together, realizing that the Son of Man and the Son of David were indeed one and the same.
Triumph and humility are ideas that flow in and out of the gospel accounts. But on the whole Mark didn’t tend to write about triumph; he wrote about Jesus from a very human point of view. Jesus’ feet seem to touch the ground properly in Mark’s writing; he eats real food and drinks real wine. Nothing ghostly about him. So was he riding in triumph? If he was, I guess he wouldn’t have chosen a baby donkey to ride on…  It makes more sense to think he was – with everyone else – looking forward to a day when God’s peace and justice would triumph over the chaos and pain of the world. I wonder how clearly he saw on Sunday quite how much that hope would cost him by Friday?