Palm Sunday and Reconciliation
“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.” Zechariah 9:9, 10
“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. ” Luke 19:41
I’ve often wondered what it would have been like to live at the time Jesus was walking the earth, to be a participant or spectator to his life and ministry. I did have the opportunity to tour the Holy Land in 1977 and have always wanted to return. There’s something special, almost magical, about walking where Jesus walked, visiting places he touched – Bethlehem, eating St. Peter’s fish on the Sea of Galilee, the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, Golgotha, the Garden Tomb, to name a few. On the other hand, as a small-town Assemblies of God pastor’s son I was SHOCKED by all the Catholic, Orthodox and other religious shrines that dotted the landscape competing for attention and funds from the many tourists groups.
I think I would have relished the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount, the chase to keep up with Jesus to get another morsel of bread & fish, the amazement of seeing another miracle or healing. The crowd and clamor at the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem would have had a festive, parade-like quality, giving one the sense of being part of making history. Honestly, I don’t think I would have wanted to be there a week later when He was arrested, falsely accused, beaten and whipped beyond recognition then brutally hung on a Roman cross – the ultimate humiliation – to suffer the cruelest of deaths, slow suffocation. I too, like the other disciples, would have fled and hid myself and my eyes from that horrific day.
But now, here’s Jesus riding into Jerusalem, coming as their King yet, “humble, gentle” riding on a donkey – actually the animal of Kings – yet coming in a gesture of Peace, not as a conqueror riding on a white steed. His was an offer of reconciliation between a people, a nation, and their God, a God they had always had a special relationship with and yet, because their religion had become institutional and corrupt, they hadn’t recognized Jesus as their Messiah. Things haven’t changed all that much. I have to admit that I too might miss Jesus because of my triumphalist desires and expectations.
To the Roman soldiers, this “Triumphal Entry” must have seemed laughable having witnessed the return of one of the Caesars to Rome from conquest and victory. One such event took three days of pomp and glory for Caesar to display the prisoners and all the spoil he had taken in battle.
Right up till today Jesus continues to come to us in humility and gentleness, with an offer of peace and reconciliation. He doesn’t approach us as a conqueror, though he is. Nor does he want to parade us through the streets as his subjects. He continues to approach us as a lowly servant, a suffering savior – that wasn’t part of the Jewish paradigm.
Prayer and reconciliation are the ministries I’m invested in. When I try to come as the expert, the one with all the answers and solutions, rather than in as a servant, carrying the love, grace, truth and presence of God, I end up sowing the very seeds, the weeds, that will blur and obscure the Work of God, the Misseo Dei, I’m endeavoring to accomplish!
For God so loved the world that he gave….. He doesn’t just love soccer moms, suburbanites, the upwardly mobile, western people – but the World. This challenges and expands my world view.
As we commemorate and celebrate Palm Sunday 2012 lets look for and engage a mindset of loving “our” world the way God does. We must have the same mind and posture as Jesus, who though God, did not grasp at authority and dominance but took the form of a servant and embraced the pain and suffering of those He met while at the same time extending to them the greatest gift of all – Salvation, Eternal Life and an intimate relationship with the Father of all Creation. Humility, servant-hood, suffering and compassion will accomplish far more than all our intellectual, theological, programmatic approaches. My thoughts for today and tomorrow! Lord, I want to be more like YOU, not just in the Church but as I live my life daily in this world.
Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord,Ron Archer North American Coordinator International Reconciliation Coalition
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