Summary: Palm Sunday welcome of the king and an alternative lifestyle is chosen, which is very different from the world’s norm of authority and power.
John 12:12-17 “Welcoming the Alternative”
Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem has always been called a “triumphal entry.” In many ways it appears to be a comical imitation of a Roman parade. We can see this first Palm Sunday event similar to an army approaching a battlefield. It is not the end, but rather the beginning of the war. It is somewhat similar to what Russia is doing on the eastern boards of the Ukraine, or what we did in preparation for Operation Desert Storm.
Jesus, though, is not prepared for a normal battle. He has no sword or armor. He is not surrounded by an army but rather by a rag-tag band of followers. Jesus doesn’t approach battlefield with physical power or technological might. Jesus is armed only with humility and love.
There is a powerful message that we can all learn from the events of the first Palm Sunday.
Cries of “Hosanna,” “Son of David,” Messiah,” welcome Jesus as he enters into Jerusalem. Hosanna is a cry for help, “Save Us.” Son of David refers to the reestablishment of the throne of David and the Kingdom of Israel. Messiah is the long anticipated savior who will overthrow Rome and again establish the golden years for Israel.
The crowd doesn’t get what is happening. They are welcoming Jesus for the wrong reasons. They wanted a king. The crowd wanted someone who would give them the comfort and security that they craved. Jesus was not born for such a mission. Jesus did not enter Jerusalem for that purpose.
Jesus can to establish a different kind of kingdom—the kingdom of God. When he stood before Pilate, Jesus plainly told him that Jesus’ kingdom was not of this world.
Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey and not on a war horse. The gospels point out that Jesus did this to fulfill the prophecy, but Jesus’ actions were more than that. He wanted to signify to the people what the character of his kingdom was going to be. It was going to be one of humility. As the prophet Micah said, “What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, love kindness and walk humbly before your Lord.
The kingdom that Jesus was establishing was a kingdom based on love. It was an expression of God’s love. It was a love that was inclusive. While the world relied upon the power of military might to establish and keep their kingdoms, Jesus would use a more powerful “weapon”. Jesus would use love. The power of this world cannot defeat it.
Jesus’ kingdom was a kingdom of presence. Jesus was incarnate—he became human. Jesus was present in lives of people. Through the Holy Spirit Jesus continues to be present in the lives of those who live in this kingdom.
Holy Week we see the escalation of the war that has been going on since Jesus’ birth and later his baptism. The powers of the world viewed Jesus as a threat. The Romans saw him as a rival king. The Jewish leaders perceived him to be a threat to their traditions and their hold on power.
Jesus could have turned tail and ran, but he chose to fight. He fought with the weapons that he had chosen. He was not goaded to abandon his principles and fight on the world’s terms. He continued to fight with love.
• Jesus’ love was expressed in his compassion. He shed tears; felt the pain of others while at the same time moving to transform their situation.
• He included all in his kingdom. Jesus broke down all of the barriers and walls that had been erected. By his inclusion, Jesus established a unity in the human family. We are all children of God. We are more alike than not.
The confrontation between Jesus, Rome and the Jews leads to the cross. Again, love, compassion, inclusion, forgiveness are hallmarks of the final battle.
We are part of God’s kingdom. The Holy Spirit is moving in our lives to mold us into people who mirror their Lord—who are people of love, compassion, inclusion, humility, service.
We disciples of Jesus Christ march to the beat of a different drummer. We lay down our arms and pick up God’s love and grace. In doing so, God’s kingdom continues to be established and expands one life at a time.