Who Doesn’t Love a Parade? – Palm Sunday – 2018

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Palm Sunday – Mark 11:1-11

Last week we prepared to celebrate Palm Sunday by considering what it means to be forgiven. This week we move forward empowered by that forgiveness to continue our story through the gates of Jerusalem with a reading of Mark 11:1-11.

Jesus’ Parade is a Mirror to Rome’s Parade

When Roman officials would enter into a city that Rome occupied, there would be a military procession in order to announce their entry. This was especially true when Pontius Pilate entered into Jerusalem at the time of Passover. Pilate had the difficult job of keeping the peace while Jerusalem celebrated the holiday that remembers God setting Israel free from Egypt. Celebrations of liberation tend to be fuel for uprisings and rebellions. Pilate, and any other Roman official, would enter into the city on a warhorse and with great military support. Palm Sunday was a theatrical mirroring of the Roman military parade.

Jesus’ Parade displayed Humility, Peace, and Love

The Roman military parade reinforced the Roman official’s authority by displaying wealth, might, and status. We will remember that when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he was faced with ways to identify himself other than as the beloved Son of God. He was tempted to find his identity as Messiah in material resources or wealth, mighty power that would force all the world to bow before him, and his status as someone important enough that angel armies would come to his rescue if he needed. As he entered the gates of Jerusalem, Jesus once again resisted the temptation to identify himself by these markers. Instead, he entered in humility, peace, and love. Palm Sunday holds a mirror to the Roman military parade and to the powers of the world embracing and displaying the same things that Jesus resists and rejects.