About ten years ago while living in Missouri, I had the opportunity to experience a Civil War re-enactment. In my ignorance, I expected to show up to a crowd full of men dressed as Yankee soldiers with perhaps a smattering of Confederate re-enactors because, I mean really, who would want to re-enact the losingside? I got an education that day as I saw scores of individual dressed in the Confederate gray. While the event was interesting and I learned a great deal from the experience, I left with a sense that the entire endeavor was futile. No amount of re-enacting would change the outcome.
I have on occasion experienced similar emotions on Palm Sunday. (John 12:12-16) If you have heard any sermons about Palm Sunday, you know what happens: the pastor describes the expectations of the crowd, how desperately they wanted Jesus to be a King on their terms. They wanted a political powerhouse, a mighty warrior. But, in a week’s time, their expectations would be crucified along with Jesus, and at their hand. So….why do we re-enact this great moment of misunderstanding and idolatry turned violent?
Some things only make sense backward…like the movie with the plot twist that makes you gasp in shock. He was his father??No way. With this new information, the entire movie is transformed.
So too, Palm Sunday is transformed when re-watched on the other side of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We finally see that God does not give us the King we want; God gives us the King we need. We see that the humble man on the donkey came not to enact violence, but to take it into himself for our sake. We understand that God’s intentions were not a small political coup in the Middle East but a cosmic liberation of Creation from the bondage of Sin and Death. We understand that God comes to us not in power but in weakness and vulnerability, entering into our broken lives in order to redeem them.
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Grace and Peace.