Sunday is coming! Palm/Passion Sunday “Beyond Parades and Palm Branches”

Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Mark 11:8-9)

If you have ever walked-in or been to a parade, when done with the right flair they are usually enjoyable affairs. People line the street and shout with joy as those in the parade walk by them. The crowd’s energy is contagious. Depending on the type of parade; uniforms, costumes, animals, floats and music distinguish the crowd from participants. The best parades I have ever attended hand out candy.

Jesus enters Jerusalem on a colt, with the celebration of the crowd and the waving of cut branches. They shout “Hosanna” which literally means “Please save us.” It is a parade – but of a different sort. It is not really a call for revolution or a military parade but it is the sign that God’s reign is upon them, and their long exile and occupation is over. The savior has come. Messiah, God’s anointed one, has come to establish the Kingdom.

What will the Empire of Rome say to this?

Or their puppet king, Herod?

Or this crowd shouting “save us” once the religious establishment gets involved?

Or any other powers of this world, including our own?

As the story unfolds, we shall soon see the powers of this world fight back against the sign of God’s kingdom. For those who read the Passion narrative this Sunday, we quickly move from Jesus’ Palm Sunday parade to the parade of his execution – as this condemned prophet, healer and rabbi must carry his cross as an enemy of the state through the city to the site of his impending cruel and humiliating death by the garbage heap.

We will see the charge written above him: “King of the Jews” alongside the mocking of the crowd, the soldiers and religious leaders.

We will witness the complete abandonment and betrayal of his followers and friends.

Was this parade a failure? Was this just another sad attempt at revolution gone wrong? Were these palms waved in vain? Most importantly, where is my candy?

Look closer.

Could it be – that the passion was the plan all along?

If so, what kind of Kingdom is this Jesus proclaiming and what kind of king is he? What kind of power is being asserted when it seems like the empty powers of this world have won or at the very least have the upper hand against anyone who opposes them?

All we can do is wait and watch and be caught up in the story ourselves; unlike his followers who run away in fear – or his enemies that act out of theirs; or the crowd that is too afraid to pay attention to see what is really going on.

-Who do you see entering Jerusalem on this donkey?

-What kind of parade is this?

-What kind of kingdom did this Jesus come to establish and how will you know when you see it?

-Do you see it?

Keep looking. Pay attention. The Kingdom is at hand.


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