It’s labeled as “triumphant” but it began in tears.

We’re quick to skip past the weeping to the waving of palm branches, but there’s a church in the shape of a teardrop built on the western slope of the Mount of Olives, like a hand reaching out inviting you to stop, stay a while, and see.

Matthew, the disciple and Gospel writer who intentionally wrote to the Jewish people, again and again showing how Jesus was and is the Messiah who fulfills the prophecies of the Old Testament… he’s careful, one might even say care-full, with order, with details, with the story woven through.

And so it’s interesting to me that Matthew 20 ends with two blind men receiving their sight.

triumphal entry

As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

He left Jericho while a crowd shouted rebukes and a couple of blind men, sitting on the side of the road between one city and another, shouted “Have mercy! Help!” The masses missed Him, but the blind men who couldn’t physically see Jesus actually saw Him, both God and man.

Jesus stopped. Jesus saw. Jesus listened and cared, had compassion and reached out, touched and gave freely. He saw the ones who wanted to see Him, heard their cries in the dark, and then chapter 20 becomes 21. But our chapter breaks didn’t exist once upon a time, and so when we move from 20:34 to 21:1 it reads:

Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples…

Dominus Flevit

It’s possible, even probable, that the no-longer-blind men continued all the way along the way, leaving one shouting crowd and walking into another. It’s possible that one of the first things they saw, one of the first moments their healed eyes took in, was their Healer weeping.

Luke, the Gospel writer and physician who traveled with the apostle Paul, says from the start that he spoke with many eyewitnesses, carefully investigating to write an account of the things that have been fulfilled. (Luke 1:1-4). In chapter 19, he tells of Jesus leaving Jericho for Jerusalem.

“As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples…” Luke 19:29

In both Matthew and Luke, the verses that follow “he sent two of his disciples” tell about the colt, the crowd joyfully shouting praise, the palm branches, the cry of hosanna, hosanna, save, save!

But Luke is clear: “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” (19:41-42, emphasis mine)

They could see, but they were blind, and then Jesus stops to cry on his way to a party.

It’s Matthew who writes the words in red that, even centuries later, sound like heartbreak, like a mother weeping over the loss of a child, desperate to hold her close: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem… how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

Dominus Flevit window

Dominus Flevit, Latin for “The Lord wept”, has a window looking out over Jerusalem, straight at the Temple Mount. Below it sits an altar with a mosaic of a hen sheltering baby chicks.

It wouldn’t be long, just a few decades, before the city was destroyed and the people scattered. And it was only a matter of days before the crowd who shouted praise would cry crucify.

Jesus knew, though. He knew and He wept, right there at the beginning of a week that would itself be both the end and the beginning. One hundred thousand words could be written about the colt, the tradition of this particular celebration, the branches, how the King of it all arrived in great humility, etcetera.

But this year, I find myself watching from outside the city, staring at a Savior who stopped to weep. He could see it all, knew with all certainty that ‘this time next week’ everything would change and resurrection would be written onto the page… and still, He wept.

Dominus Flevit

Here at the start of Holy Week, this week that holds so much, I simply wanted to paint a picture of the both/and of this day.

There’s a crowd who sings praise while missing the Messiah.

There are two blind men who see the Savior.

And there’s our friend Jesus, who holds us when our days hold way too much, the One who gently says come close love, let me hold you for a while.

We don’t know all that the blind men saw, the ones who followed from Jerusalem. We don’t know if they were among Luke’s eyewitnesses, these men who could suddenly, miraculously see the One who saw them first. But we do know Jesus let Himself be seen. We know He chose for there to be a witness to His tears. And I imagine I’m not the only one who waved a palm frond this morning while crying my own “hosanna, help, save.”

I’m sitting on the side of my own road, blind and begging, wondering and waiting for a miracle. I’m shouting, calling, crying—and stunned to find that He stops to ask “What do you want Me to do for you?”

What do I want? What do you want?

Drilled down to the depths, underneath it all, what is it—exactly, precisely, specifically—that we want this Palm Sunday? Here, in the week of it all?

Israel temple complex

apologies for the book cover shot — this is the only image I have standing outside Dominus Flevit while looking toward Jerusalem… but I wanted to share so you can see the view from here

I can’t answer for you, but I can say there’s something about seeing that you are seen, that actually you’ve been seen all along, that brings tears to my eyes.

You are seen by the One who stops to cry.

You are noticed by the One who promises one day, all tears will be wiped away (Revelation 21:4).

You have a witness with you on the way, on whatever road you find yourself on today, dry and empty wilderness or city center in the middle of a celebration.

You have a God who could have picked anything and chose the image of a hen, echoing Psalm 91:

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. (91:4)

And so yes, you and I… we can come as we are with whatever we’re bringing into this week—questions or doubts, gratitude or grief.

We may not be able to see Him clearly right now, may not understand what in the heck He’s doing or how the Very Not Good can be turned around to better than before, but He’s here in the week of it all, seeing us and seeing a way through.

Being the way through.

So bring it all. Every last bit.

He can take it. (He already did.)

branch, standing in Israel

The palm fronds of today will be burnt, the ashes saved to be spread in the shape of a cross across foreheads on a Wednesday in 2025. Just as the smudge of 2023’s branches were marked on many this Ash Wednesday, the story will continue and we’ll say it again: “hosanna, even here.”

It seems to me, today, that Jesus said it first.

It’s labeled as “triumphant” but it began in tears.

And so here, in the week of it all, we’re invited to bring it all… to come close and find that we were already seen. All of us, just as we are, is wanted. Crying praise or weeping with grief or both at the same time. Jesus understands that both/and. Today we’re invited to remember: He can hold the muchness. After all, He’s the One who stopped to weep with compassion on the way to a celebration.

Hosanna, even here… here, in the week of it all.

She answered God by name, praying to the God who spoke to her, “You’re the God who sees me! “Yes! He saw me; and then I saw him!” Genesis 16:13


Day One of here, in the week of it all is available to everyone! If you’d like to receive the rest of the 8-day Holy Week series, sign up HERE for $6. If you’re already a paid subscriber to All The Things (thank you for supporting my writing!), Day Two: For the Ones Who Are Angry will automatically arrive in your inbox tomorrow. (If you’re seeing this after Holy Week, you can subscribe HERE and access all 8 posts at once.)