The Corridor: Palm Sunday

The Corridor

We are a church community committed to having an incarnational presence in the Washington/Baltimore Corridor.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Palm Sunday

Today is “Palm Sunday”, the day of Jesus’ “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem. This was an incredibly political event, as it took place while Jews were coming into Jerusalem to begin preparations of the Passover. It was politically charged activity even before Jesus got there because Passover was the celebration of God’s deliverance from and oppressive ruler and an oppressive nation.

Hope was wrapped up in this story for a “new exodus” ever since the Jews had been exiled in Babylon and Jewish prophets began to dream of this “new exodus”. By the end of the O.T. the Jews were able to return home, but under the occupation of the Persian Empire. Though they did better under the Persians (rebuilt temple ect) with the rise of Greek culture, and then Rome, they had not been able to rise to self rule and a place of power as they once had under the “glory days” of King David.

It was in this volatile environment of their Roman occupation during Passover that made it common place for Jews to wave palm branches during this holiday as a symbol of their desire for a revolution. It was in this environment that Jesus entered the city, already rumored to be the Messiah, it made sense based on these hopes that he would become the focal point of their Passover demonstrations.

Some historians point out, that that it was common for Pontius Pilate to also to come to Jerusalem during Passover and other Jewish holidays. He would come around this time of year riding on a warhorse along with soldiers showing a military presence in order to remind the Jews just where they stood; and how futile a revolution would be against their military might. The Jews were desperate for another David to topple their Goliath.

Though it was prophesied in Zechariah that their King would come to them riding on a donkey, and that is just what Jesus did, the crowds still likely saw Jesus ridding into Jerusalem on a war horse. Yet Jesus’ revolution represented a different kind of Kingdom and the entry into a different kind of triumph. It was a Kingdom of God triumph in the Way of peace, which turned upside down what we tend to think as triumph according to the way of Caesar.

As we gathered as a community earlier this evening and reflected on this story, we made crosses from palms. I could not help but to appreciate the symbolism of what we were doing. Here we were taking this ancient revolutionary symbol of the palm leaf, which represents a dream of conquering enemies, and turns it into a symbol about a Way that is so committed to peace and solidarity that it is willing to die for enemies. This parade of extreme contrasts, even if most were blind to them, was beautifully played out the day Jesus road into Jerusalem on a donkey.


Post a Comment

<< Home