Today is Palm Sunday. This is the day we celebrate the “triumphal entry” of Jesus into the City of Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Many hundreds of thousands were gathered in Jerusalem for the coming Passover, and John tells us that the people were focused on Jesus because of crowd spreading the word that he had risen Lazarus from the dead just days before. (John 12:17-18 (“Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him.”))
As Jesus entered the City, people lined the streets with palm branches, threw their cloaks on the road in front him, and venerated him with shouts of “Hosanna!” and “Blessed is the king who come in the name of the Lord!”
This is Luke’s account:
As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:36-38)
And here is John’s account:
The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” (John 12:12-13)
As we celebrate Palm Sunday today, we know that story is about to take a very drastic, tragic turn for the worse. The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is not the precursor to celebratory times, but the darkest of times. We should consider the incongruity that just days before Jesus was condemned by an angry crowd yelling, “Crucify him!”, he was hailed King of the Jews by an adoring crowd – and it was likely the same crowd!
When Trump first announced his presidential intentions, it seemed to me like a reality show stunt. It was like a distraction from “the real the thing”, the serious business of presidential primaries that will determine the only choices that we have next November.
Now that Trump, the reality show candidate, is increasingly likely to become Trump, the presidential candidate, I have been unsure how to put it in perspective. Trump, the caricature, seems to be Trump, the real deal. Even as he polarizes people who are already quite polarized, he gains in popularity and delegates to the convention where he will likely be the “popular” choice.
I do not need to recount the number of ways that Trump has failed to exhibit the fruits of the Holy Spirit. The stories are now legion. The examples of mocking a disabled man, or cheering while people are forcibly removed from his audience or statements about punching people in the face are played over and over on social media like a parade of “fail” videos.
Meanwhile, Trump is not just polarizing the haves and have-nots and the Democrats and Republicans; he is polarizing Republicans and Republicans. More importantly, and more significantly, to me, Trump is polarizing Christians, even those who call themselves Evangelical Christians.
“Your kingdom[*] come….” (Matt. 6:10) Jesus instructed his apostles, and therefore his followers, including us, to pray for God’s kingdom to come. That is a curious instruction, as many Jews at the time believed that the Messiah would overthrow the Roman occupation of Judea and return the land to Jewish rule. They were bitterly disappointed when that did not happen.
Did the disciples not pray hard enough? Did God fail to answer the prayer Jesus instructed them to pray? What does that mean for us today? We need to look back at the First Century for the answer. Continue reading “Your Kingdom Come”→