Filed under: Uncategorized
Isn’t there something a bit tragic here, even in the midst of all this exaltation? We know the end of the story, the betrayals, the crooked religious leaders, the powerful who are blind to the prophet and the eventual death of an innocent man. Are these chorus’ of praise are preludes to Jesus’ own demise? Since we know the end of the story they are like the Greek chorus of old that tells the story at the beginning of the play. No surprise, but this is not foretelling. It is merely because we know the ending that we see the tragic in the midst of this celebration. That is why we have a tendency to want to jump past our own foreshadowing and miss the glory in this moment.
Jesus is on his stolen donkey, riding into Jerusalem around those who are jubilant about his arrival. These mobs strewn his path with branches and sing his praise. The crowds of common people know this man. They have heard of this man from Galilee who has healed the sick, returned sight to the blind, cast out the demons, stood up to the powerful, raised the dead and cared for the dispossessed. He is the one who stood up in the synagogue and proclaimed the year of the Lord. There is something dangerous in his proclamations, something subversive, something that feels like it could turn the world upside down. That is why the crowd wants to be there, to be in his midst, they want to be a part of the change that they can believe in.
Yet, there are detractors here. It is best not to ignore them lurking at the edge of the crowd. They are the ones who believe that this is much ado about nothing. They believe that Christ’s talents are less his own making and originate from far darker regions. They are ready to sully his character through a subtle whisper campaign. They hope to trip him up in public, show him to be less of a leader through tricking him and in the end they will boldly betray him.
Do you see what Jesus used to do? He would excite within a crowd of supporters optimism, celebration, expectation and exuberant praise. They raise the palms high and scream Hosannas! This exaltation is blushingly like this week’s pop star du jour.
I can almost imagine Lady Gaga abreast an egg, crowd cheering her meat dress as her metallic makeup catches Jerusalem’s mid-day sun. Maybe this is why Jesus doesn’t move and excite us? We have seen too much, too many sensational things. Nothing is shocking, nothing can keep our attention long and certainly nothing can change us. Maybe the shallowness of pop culture turns us toward multitudes of purchased cheap thrills over mutual sacrifice. I think that sometimes it turns us toward cheap inspiration over courageous actions.
Don’t lose the fact that Jesus’ act is one of great courage. Jesus knows that his move to the spiritual heart of his country could probably mean his own demise. He is riding into uncertainty, despair, violence and eventually death. Yet, there I am again, skipping ahead to the next Friday’s story. What we have now is celebration and jubilant excitement at Jesus’ arrival.
It may be a shocking realization, but Jesus needs an encouraging word. Jesus needs praise. Jesus needed all of these things to grant him courage for what he assumed he would face. Jesus was a man of needs like me.
Unselfish courage toward spiritual truth is a rare trait amongst human beings. Amongst the sinner it is an extinct species. Our ability to stiff upper lip our way through life is highly overrated, especially when crisis overwhelms our ability to pretend any longer. That is why it is a radical notion that Jesus looks to the crowd for help in moving him forward toward a much tougher reality. Yes, there is celebration, praise and adulation, still there is a function that these people have for Jesus. Jesus needs the praise, the affirmation to move him courageously to face darker nights in Jerusalem.
If you have ever had a problem that seemed intractable, a problem that you have turned over and over in your head for years and found no solution it can be maddening. You try one thing after another only to find failure greeting you at every end. Then you find others who understand and guide you in ways that you could not have traveled alone. It is their encouragement, discipline and enthusiasm in care that propels you into courageous change then you know where Jesus is on that donkey.
We have many changes in life that affect the spiritual realm of our existence. Some of these changes will impact us as individuals and others that will change the nature of our spiritual community. There is a place for constructive criticism and skeptical eyes. Yet, these can also function to stifle and stymie any and all change, bogging us down in the soul draining ruts of unhappiness and disappointment. It is time to learn something about courage from Jesus. He rode not only on the back of a donkey, but on the wave of encouragement from the people who loved and supported him. Jesus knew there would be tough days ahead, but the palms and shouts of praise made facing those dark days an easier prospect.
3 Comments so far
Leave a comment