If you have spent anytime in church, then it is a safe bet that you know the story of Palm Sunday, but in case, a quick recap. Quick editor’s note before I continue, there is a good chance that you may not agree with a lot of (if not all) the conclusions I draw. That’s fine, and I welcome discussion and disagreement as long as its civil and in the spirit of building up and growing a relationship with Christ.
By the time Jesus enters Jerusalem for what proves to be the last time, His ministry was well known. The stories of Him healing people, driving demons out, punking the religious establishment, and overall being a 1st century rock star were well known. By this time, there was no shortage of people that were willing to buy into the fact that He was the Messiah, and the popular idea among the Jewish people is that the Messiah would drive out their current oppressors (which at this time were the Romans).
So Jesus enters Jerusalem with an entourage rivaling that of a prize fighter. He is welcomed as a conquering hero, and I can imagine the His crew is looking at the Romans in the area and saying the Greek equivalent of “Jesus is here and you’re gonna get it!”
We all know the story. Jesus, rather than driving out the Roman oppressors, he is tried, convicted and crucified less than a week after he is given the fully loaded welcome wagon.
One exercise that I like to do is try to put myself in certain stories, and contemplate how I would interact with the characters, and with this one, I can’t help but think that there was a sense of disappointment when the outcome didn’t quite work out how the crowd anticipated and perhaps even scripted. Their presumption that Jesus was going to come into Jerusalem and knock heads must have been exhilarating. It must have been deflating when their hero not only didn’t drive out their oppressors, but met the business end of a cross.
I think that a lot of Christians today would place themselves in the crowd that was with Jesus on Palm Sunday. Who wouldn’t want to be labeled as being a part of the Messiah’s crew, especially if that meant that they were going to gear up to drive out their perceived enemy. We as modern day Christians have the same presupposition that our life in Christ is to create an establishment. Like in the story of Passion week, this is not the case. Jesus did not come to Jerusalem to set up drive out the Romans and gain political power, but rather His purpose was to exhibit an act of love that is beyond measure. His purpose was to take on the sin of the world, endure the wrath that should be ours as individuals onto Himself, conquer death and raise from the dead, in order that we can be justified in the eyes of God. The ultimate act of love trumps the desire to accumulate power and drive out oppressors (even legitimate oppressors).
This is the example that we are to follow, but instead I see more posturing and power grabbing from my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ than ever before. We are jockeying for political power because we think that Jesus once again is here to accumulate secular power and drive out the modern day equivalent of the Romans.
We get up in arms about gay marriage and lobby to pass the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), but the divorce rate amongst Christians is indistinguishable from that of the general population (according to Barna). Perhaps its time to focus on the defense of the marriages that we already got?
We decry socialism, and allude to the assumption that capitalism was part of the Apostle’s Creed, and Adam Smith was at Pentecost, but the least of these…you know…the people that Jesus said would always be with us (Matthew 26:11) are being vilified and forgotten. Perhaps its time to care for those that God has said will inherit the kingdom of God?
We scream that Obamacare will result in the end of the republic, but forget the fact that at one point that the church was the communities clinic, and if that were still true then Obamacare would be moot. Perhaps its time to get our hands dirty once again and address the needs of the community.
I know that these are controversial statements, but I feel that we are drawing the same conclusions that the crowd who took the interstate from Jericho to Jerusalem in order to see Jesus pick a fight with Caesar. The church needs to be active in the community, not active in Political Action Committees. The church needs to care about those who are desperate and live well below the poverty line, not care about those whose income is considered capital gains because they are hedge fund managers or captains of industry. In essence, the church needs to get back in the trenches of the communities that they serve, and not hope that their agenda can be achieved through either legislation or through entitlement programs.
Christ went to Jerusalem, and his followers made the mistake of thinking it was to establish some sort of government on earth and their focus was on that, not on the people around them. I simply wonder if the modern church is making the same mistake?