This is the second time now I have reflected on Palm Sunday. You would have seen the image on my welcome page.
So what did I notice this time? The story this week tells of how Jesus is coming from the Mount of Olives, the place to which Jesus would return and where things would not go so well for him. The question that arose for me was, does it matter where he came from? He was engaged in the city but did not actually stay in the city but trotted (literally) in and out of it making very public political statements. The first a critique of the Empire and the nature of how they use power and the second was the turning of the tables at the Temple.. The two key residents Jesus was intentionally antagonizing. It isn’t really surprising that they got to a point of wanting to take him out.
The second point that came to my attention was that there was a massive crowd who came in waving palms and laying cloaks but it actually created chaos in the city and people were wondering who this person was. I think when I have heard this story before I just thought everyone was on board, but here the text is clear Jesus had his own crowd that were excited about his arrival. In this light it makes a bit more sense how the crowd turned to have him crucified. Maybe they were never with him and if all he did was come into the city and criticise and mock, almost goading a reaction from the leaders at the time, I wonder how the every day citizen of the city would feel as they tried to make out an existence in the dynamics that was their lives.
This week I am doing some training on leadership and political advocacy. It has raised for me some questions about how we critique those things that we think are contrary to God’s way and God’s will. Is Jesus model of trot into the city drop a couple of controversial public statements and leave, waiting on the outskirts for them to come and get him. I wonder if Jesus had considered other ways? I wonder if the lengthy discussions with the Pharisees and Sadducees along the way was a way of trying to speak into their world and situation. I wonder if the conversation as to who’s head was on the coin was a gentle attempt to educate? Sometimes people don’t want to listen or hear, even when we talk with them directly no matter the language we use or the examples we explore with them. Sometimes people can justify anything, or it just makes sense to them because that is how it has always been. I wonder if they got it when he went to the extremes? I wonder if Jesus frustration of hearing the suffering of the people had got to a point that it required some light relief. His frustration at the temple and the leadership there left him with no other way left? Maybe, maybe not..
What do I take away from this? The example of Jesus to speak out against the things around him that were causing harm to others, that were separating them from each other and from God. Honestly I struggle often to speak out against most things. The problem I have is that I can see things from both sides, and to the people involved it makes sense. But does it make it ok to harm others or stop others from connecting with God purely because of who their family is, their background, or where they come from? Is this God’s way? Jesus life would suggest otherwise, he even had to fight against his own cultural conditioning to remember this. Sometimes the consequences of these actions are not good, and the truth be known I too am scared. But slowly I am working on my courage to remain true to myself and what I hear Jesus calling us to as a church and to speak out against injustice. Today we talked about fighting for justice is what love looks like in the Public arena, love cannot remain only contained in caring for the individual without dealing with what is causing thier suffering. So I begin with conversations, kind and gentle chats, going to vigorous discussions, maybe we will even make light about those things that get in between us or try to control us, I wonder if I too will need to turn over tables, I hope we can grow together long before then!!
May wisdom be your guide and the Spirit’s courage your companion.