Holy Spirit Province Saint-Esprit
Franciscans of CanadaFranciscains du Canada

Ordo Fratrum Minorum

Marc Chagall: The Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem

Marc Chagall: The Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem

At the bottom left of the stained glass window The Tree of Life or Peace (1976), Chagall evokes this messianic entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem. The Prince of Peace selects the right moment and prepares the details of his entry into the city of “David, his father” (Lk 1:32).  “When they had come near Jerusalem, and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ’’Go to the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied and a colt with her; untie them, and bring them to me’’… This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, ’’Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Mt 21, 1-5)

“Jesus comes, not as a mighty king or a fearsome warrior, but as a man of peace,” writes Éloi Leclerc. No sign of power accompanies him, no visible sheen, no human pomp. Nothing that’s likely to seduce the crowds. He sits on a donkey, the most humble mount… He comes, in fact, not to dominate, but to serve. Not to condemn, but to save. Not to sow death, but to give life, and life in abundance… The Prince of Peace enters Jerusalem, cheered by the crowd of the poor and the little ones who honour him by waving olive branches. This people on the move, gathered in a restored unity, is not a deployment of force, but the humble gathering of peace and Beatitudes, which ascends into the city of David, to the cry of: ‘Hosanna to the son of David!’” (Mt 21, 9).

It should be noted that Chagall evoked the figure of King David in the top left corner of the window above this evangelical scene. He recognizes in Jesus his Lord, he rejoices when he sees him approaching and, with joy, he sings and plays the harp. We know that David is one of Chagall’s favorite figures.

King David plays the harp

The acclamation: “Blessed is the King who comes, in the name of the Lord!” (Lc 19:38) is found only in the Gospel of Luke, where Jesus is explicitly given the title of king when he enters Jerusalem in triumph. Their cry of homage summed up the crowd’s reasons for rejoicing. The pilgrims who approached the temple were greeted by the priests from inside the shrine with the blessing: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” The formula of blessing became a cry of homage which was addressed to Jesus. He was the king appointed by God, on whom God conferred all power.

Jesus comes to offer himself for the peace of the world. This ascent into Jerusalem preludes the elevation on the cross. Our gaze, carried by the upward movement of the lines, soars towards this final stage: Christ, by his shed blood and his given life, seals the new Covenant.

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”