I haven’t posted in a very long time, but really hope to do so each day of Holy Week this year. This first is a reflection on Palm Sunday, both then and now.
When I heard he was arriving in Jerusalem, I was curious but doubtful. We had heard stories of deliverance our whole lives, knew we were the chosen people of Yahweh, but it was always hard to believe that it would happen again. That was especially true because of the Romans. They terrorized us into submission. Their might and power was everywhere we turned and most of us lived our lives in constant fear – not that something big would happen – but simply that one or two soldiers would get it in their minds that someone needed to pay.
And we paid. Our families paid. Our children paid with their very lives.
So, I was doubtful when I heard rumors that someone who would be our new king was entering Jerusalem. My curiosity was fueled as I heard more stories about him. He had a band of followers. Among them was one we knew fought against the Romans. This known freedom fighter was the treasurer of the group. I heard that great crowds followed him in the country sides and I knew, I knew that if anyone could save us from the powers that be, it would be someone who brought so many big crowds of people together. It was the only way to overthrow our oppressors.
So I joined the crowd that welcomed him to the city that day.
I expected guards with armor to be beside him. I expected weapons in the hand of every citizen of Jerusalem. I expected royalty.
But he came riding a donkey. Children surrounded him. People waved palm branches, not weapons. But still we cried out Hosanna and welcome to the one people said would deliver us. I got caught up in the moment. I got caught up in my dreams for freedom and safety and I joined the crowd in greeting him.
As I look back on that day, I also hear stories of how the one we knew, Judas. Apparently Judas turned him over to the authorities in hopes that this would cause an insurrection. Yes, there was money involved and maybe because of that Judas was said to be his great betrayer. That may be true. It may be.
But I also know that everyone who stood, everyone who gathered to shout hosanna, also betrayed this King. They betrayed him with their expectations. They betrayed him with their desire for safety. They betrayed him with their lust for revenge.
This man, Jesus, came to save us. But he did so by turning the world of power upside down. Where we cried out for power, he gave of himself. Where we cried out for safety, he gave his very life.
They…No, not they, but I…betrayed the very one who would come to save me from myself.
Jesus met his enemy on his journey to Jerusalem. And that enemy is anyone who would make him into what they want rather than allow him and his selflessness to be Lord.
Jesus met his enemy…and the enemy is sometimes the very one who shouts Hosanna!