Picture a World, Where a Politician is elected…
Palm Sunday 2016
Bonnie A. Perry
Picture a world where a politician you desperately did not want to be elected, is elected and then re-elected. Each time having put his hand on the bible, and sworn to uphold the constitution, so help him God. In that time period, several Supreme Court justices died. So this politician appointed three maybe four justices. A decade has passed since he was in office and our country and the world is a very, very different place. Picture how you feel. How enfranchised, respected and tolerant of the political system you now feel.
Take those emotions and now picture that someone who you believe can change everything is heading to the capital. This procession, with the one you believe, can right the wrongs and topple the system, that same procession is due to arrive today. How long have you been waiting, for this political rally to change everything? How expectant is the crowd? Have you just made three new friends, because of your similar fears and aspirations? Is there a palpable bond amidst the crowd?
It is these very emotions, I believe that were feeding and nurturing and inspiring the crowd that waited in Jerusalem for Jesus to arrive. It was a festive release of massive pain and sadness. A carnival of frivolity, for soon they hoped, this one, this man, this anointed one was going to change how they lived. That they would no longer be on the fringes, in the corners, lost in the shadows their rights, their beliefs, their hopes would be enacted and their children would lead better lives.
Hosanna. Blessed. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Soon their city, run by people with obscene values, would change. Praise and Glory, thanks be to God. The palms are thrown, waved, and sold and woven into shapes for commemorative souvenirs.
But remember, according to Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan in their book The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach about Jesus’s Final Days in Jerusalem, there is another procession coming in a different gate on the other side of the city. One with, leather armor, helmets, banners and golden eagles glinting in the sun. The Roman detachment, with the governor, is coming up from the seaside in Cesaria to offer reinforcements for the detachment already stationed by the temple in Jerusalem. (Borg & Crossan p 3) It is no ordinary weekend. It is the week of the festival for the Jewish people. The festival where they remember as a people who God intervened and helped them throw off a previous oppressive government. Really how much different is Cesar from Pharaoh? One difference, Cesar has no intention of his chariots and charioteers being vanquished in a formerly parted sea. When the city of Jerusalem fills with restless, faithful pilgrims, he will ensure by shear strength of numbers that no one will resist his will. So another procession enters the city.
Another procession enters the city, the same time as Jesus comes in astride, not a stallion but a colt: a beast not yet fully grown. An image, once predicted by the prophet Zachariah,
“Look your king will come to you. He is righteous and victorious. He is humble and riding on a colt…He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the warhorse from Jerusalem. The bow used in battle will be cut off, he will speak peace to the nations. His rule will stretch from sea to sea…”
Humble and righteous, without bow or spear… this King arrives. Alas it is imagery lost on the peasants praying for change, and legions anticipating war. What does this procession of Jesus Christ mean?Surely soon the two processions will collide…
What will happen?
Jesus enters the city and heads to the temple. The temple where the chief priests are under the control of Rome. He overturns the tables…the processions collide…this is what happens next…