Monday, April 06, 2009

There Will Be Resistance, But...

As a preacher, I never know what to do with Palm Sunday. It's fun to sing and dance, but I know where things lead. Making a big deal about Jesus' triumphal entry seems rather beside the point, when I know that Good Friday is on the horizon.

But the Gospels tell this story nonetheless, maybe as a reminder to us that we're often fickle, getting pulled along by the crowd, this way and that. In that telling of Jesus' story, we find him riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. To us riding a donkey might not make an impression, but for first-century Jews, it may have called to mind a prophetic word of hope. It's quite likely that Jesus intentionally acted out Zechariah's prophetic word that one day a king would ride triumphantly into the city on a donkey, bringing with him the promise of peace for all nations, even as he extended his rule to the ends of the earth (Zech. 9:9-10).

So, as the people began to hear that the teacher from Galilee was riding into town on a donkey, they must have wondered – Is this the one? Indeed, is this the one who will wrest dominion from the hated Roman oppressors and restore freedom to God's people? With those thoughts in mind, it's no surprise that the people responded by shouting hosanna and by spreading palm branches out in front of him.

As we consider this scene, we need to consider another one, because it's quite possible that as Jesus was entering the city through one gate, the Roman governor was riding into the city through another gate astride a war horse. So, here we have it – two visions of reality. One vision lifts up peace, while the other focuses on domination. We're fickle. We'll give peace a chance, but only for a moment, because when push comes to shove, we're likely to embrace Caesar. It's safer, after all!

...The message of Holy Week, which we enter this morning, is this: Whether it's sticks or stones, or names, we have been called to a ministry of word and service, and no matter what comes our way, God is there to sustain us in our ministry. As we go forth into the world, we don't go alone. There will be resistance, but God and not Caesar will prevail. So be strong, stand firm! {full post}
[via Ponderings on a Faith Journey]

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