True Power

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are on the brink of Holy Week. Palm Sunday is only four days away. Jesus will soon enter Jerusalem, Luke 22:14-23:56.

In a 2011 blog post, Brian McLaren engages in an imaginative exercise, retelling the Palm Sunday story from the perspective of those who expected a military and political savior. What if Palm Sunday had happened that way, he wonders, as a carefully planned assault on Roman Jerusalem, rather than the tragicomic image of Jesus perched upon his donkey that we read about in the scriptures.

“Operation Sacred Vengeance” is the name of the rebel campaign. Jesus and his disciples have engaged in careful preparation, storing caches of weapons, arranging for relays of horses, establishing communications with Zealot factions who are awaiting the signal rise up and sow chaos in the streets, preparing the way for their military assault.

As McLaren tells it:
Jesus mounts a white horse. He is carrying a huge sword, but has it hidden in a palm branch. His disciples are similarly well-armed with swords, daggers, and shields, all camouflaged behind palm branches. They are mounted on warhorses, prepared for battle. The word goes out and the crowds assemble. In each man's right hand is a sword or dagger raised to the sky, concealed beneath in a palm frond or coat. Each left hand is raised in a fist. Younger men and boys carry concealed torches, ready to light them, march on the city, and create mayhem when the battle begins…

As they cross the brow of the hill near Bethany and the city comes into view, Jesus gives a rousing speech. "It is wrong for the heathen idolators to have power over the faithful people of God!" he shouts. "That wrong must end today! We have suffered enough. Now we will make our persecutors suffer!" The people cheer and chant, "Victory! Victory! Crush the Romans! Kill the collaborators!"

"Who is with me in our holy cause?" Jesus asks. The crowds shout, "We are!" in a roar that echoes across the valley into the streets of Jerusalem. "Who is willing to fight to the death and avenge the blood of our ancestors?" Again the crowds shout, "We are!" "And who will shed a gallon of Roman blood for every drop of our blood that is shed?" Again the crowd erupts. Then the branches and coats are thrown to the ground and blades glisten in the sun.

Not exactly the way it happened.

Would we really want a Palm Sunday that sounded like that?

-- Retrieved October 5, 2012

I invite you to pray upon these questions:

  • Have you found vengeance or mercy to be more formative to you spiritually?
  • Have the worlds’ militaries or the love of Jesus made a larger mark upon the world?
  • What message of Palm Sunday do you hope to have enter your heart?

Still in One Peace,

Pastor David J. Jensen

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