(March 28, 2010 – Palm Sunday) Understanding what Jesus did on Palm Sunday is in many ways the key to understanding Holy Week, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and most of the rest of what Jesus was about. No coincidental peasant outpouring of love and affection, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was a powerful and premeditated counter-protest to the show of Roman strength in the city. In presenting himself as an alternative, Jesus offers the citizens of Jerusalem a choice between the worldview he espouses and that of the Roman Empire. Jesus is not interested in changing up the people at the top of a corrupt system, but shaking and changing the framing story entirely, something much more sweeping and threatening, something, ultimately, people will kill to avoid. We have the same choice before us today; will we continue to buy into the Imperial story that the ones with the most money and weapons and people are in charge (and just change their faces from time to time), or will we seek a new vision, God’s framing story, that peace is never achieved through force or violence and justice is not the king’s to doll out but the common well-being of the people? Will we pick up our spears and shields to join in the Roman procession, or will we lift our palms and march in the Jesus parade? (Luke 19:28-40)
This is a topic with which I have undergone a tremendous amount of reading, prayer, study, and reflection. For that reason, it is often hard to tease out which thoughts are my own and which are the result of important books and essays I have read. I know I have definitely been influenced by Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael (for discussion of the importance of story and the ways in which they become ingrained in us), by Brian McLaren’s Everything Must Change (where he says what I was trying to say, but more clearly and succinctly, about Jesus’ opposing framing story), and by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan’s The Last Week (for just about everything I’ve learned and internalized and made my own about the meaning and context of Jesus’ final week in Jerusalem).