“Who is that by the side of the road, astride a colt covered with dingy cloaks, his followers chanting and waving palm branches stripped from nearby trees? —Another scruffy messiah coming to preach at the Passover feast in Jerusalem, I bet. We’ve had so many, and all came to naught. Violence still abounds under those Romans. Besides, it’s hot; the crowds, tumultuous; the fleas, merciless.”

Such may have been experienced as strains of “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord!” faded into the morning’s excitement—It’s first-century Palestine, bristling with intrigue.

Yes, we’re talking about Jesus of Nazareth, a critical story, proclaiming his mission as Messiah, “according to the Scriptures,” and enjoying every minute of it, despite repeated denials of such a title during years of preaching in Galilee and Judea. Such is the picture portrayed in the four Gospels written in Greek, with slight differences, understandably, because of the differing times and places in which they were written and the differing audiences toward whom the story of Jesus was aimed.

That toot-toot parade that hot morning also placed Jesus in a favorable light, in the center of Judaism, and cleaned up his miserable messiah experience—he, too, was crucified. This Jesus of Nazareth was more than another would-be messiah. His mission was unique.

Whether or not the story of Jesus of Nazareth, seated upon a colt’s ass, occurred does not matter. But he did lose his Jewishness when Roman legions destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 C.E.; then, in my perception, he morphed into a Hellenistic demi-god, estranged from physical creation. 

Yet, Jesus of Nazareth is always available in heart-prayer. He still welcomes the humble.