‘Hosanna’ to ‘Crucify’
On Palm Sunday this year, we reflected on how we are called to follow in the footsteps of that first topsy-turvy Palm Sunday as we liked Jesus’ party parade to the Feast of Fools in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, in which Quasimodo was crowned King.
According to a number of Biblical scholars, around the time that Jesus was riding on a donkey, there was a great, imperial procession carrying the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, into the capital. And it would have been a grand affair. Drums would be beating and stallions neighing; banners flying and helmets gleaming. Soldiers would have marched the streets, striking fear and awe into all who saw. This was a parade of power; a march of might. A procession which reminded the Jewish people of their subjugation, occupation and humiliation. And it was a sight they had grown accustomed to, having witnessed so many great world leaders – from King Solomon to Alexander the Great – do the same. This was how a true ruler came to Jerusalem. This was how to evoke pride from your supporters, fear from your enemies. And so this was how the messiah was expected to arrive – astride a great stallion, leading a vast army, liberating the city and its people by force.
So what Jesus did was a joke. Quite literally. In Mark’s account of things, Jesus’ parade to the gates of the city was lampooning the triumphal entries of Pilate, Alexander and all. For an ass took the place of a stallion; a gang of tax collectors, unemployed fishermen and women of ill repute were the army; a wandering pacifist from Nazareth, the mighty leader. It was odd, comical, disorientating. A perfect parody of earthly kingship in which power was shown through humility; where branches, not swords, were waved about; when joy and humour took the place of fear and resentment. In his parade, Jesus identified with the poor and challenged the expectations of his followers, he mocked the actions of the empire and disclosed more of his understanding of authority.
Today – as national leaders demand big parades and argue over whose missile is the biggest, we are called, once again, to be fools for Christ. To follow the clown-king on a donkey, who poked fun at those who show off with their weapons and power, and who invites us instead to walk the foolish way of humility, love and peace…
The Story of Holy Week…
We listened to the ‘story’ from ‘Hosanna’ to ‘Crucify’ in Mark’s Gospel
Ch 11:1-11, The triumphant Entry into Jerusalem Ch 11:12-19 Jesus curses the Fig Tree
Ch 11:27, 12:14-17, 28-34 Different Questions
Ch 14:1-11 The Plot against Jesus / Jesus is anointed at Bethany /Judas agrees to betray Jesus
Ch 14:12-72 From the Passover meal to Peter’s denial
Ch 15:1-37 Jesus before Pilate to his Death
Hearing again the story of holy week, perhaps you feel short-changed – no ‘proper’ sermon, no real conclusion, no appearance of Jesus yet. Perhaps you feel battered and bruised by the story or even left on a cliffhanger. Well, perhaps this is what we are meant to feel on Palm or Passion Sunday for there is so much more to say, to pray; there is more sadness to be felt, more injustice to confront, more joy in which to be immersed.
Ch 16: 1-8 The Ressurectiom
But that is to come…and I hope you will this holy week…For now, we finish this morning’s service by singing a hymn which reminds us of the life which took Christ to the cross and the challenge that he gives us today – When God almighty came to earth, he took the pain of Jesus’ birth, he took the flight of refugee, and whispered, humbly, follow me…