Jonathan's Perspective  

Mar 27

'World's Apart'

The week we now call Holy Week began on the first day of the week which Christians hail as Palm Sunday.  The excitement of Passover rippled through the Jewish community near and far.  As one of the holy days that Jews were to present themselves before God at the Temple, Jerusalem swelled from 50,000 inhabitants to 150,000 with pilgrims everywhere.  Early Sunday morning, Jesus boldly and publically entered into the city.  For Jesus - and his followers - this was the end of all privacy and safety.  Riding in with throngs cheering, singing and waving palms set Jesus on the inevitable collisions with the political powers that be - Rome in all its might.  The kingdom of Rome and the kingdom of God were worlds apart.

Pilate, Prefect of Judea, was appointed by Tiberius Caesar to keep order in a rebellious region of the Roman Empire.  Over the previous 100 years there had been a dozen uprisings that were brutally squelched with the swift justice of Rome.  Sometimes just the closet leaders were executed.  Sometimes there were miles of people on crosses demonstrating that large scale reprisals might come for insurrection.  There was nothing Rome wouldn't do to keep order, with fear being their greatest weapon.  Pilate entered Jerusalem on a war horse from the West.  He brought a legion, 3,000 troops, to ensure nothing would happen on his watch.  Pilate's superior was exacting and unforgiving.  He knew that his position, even his life, was in danger if a full rebellion occurred. 

Jesus, a rabbi and miracle worker from Nazareth, entered from the East on a donkey symbolizing one who comes in peace.  It was the culmination of Jesus' proclamation of the Peaceable Kingdom of God.  As Zechariah prophesied, "See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey... He will proclaim peace to the nations." (Zechariah 9:9-10)  If we would describe Pilate's coming with a tank, Jesus came on a bicycle.  While Pilate was flanked by a legion of soldiers with spears and swords, Jesus was surrounded by ordinary people who had been healed, saw miracles, had been fed, were forgiven, or were seeking the same.  While the citizenry fled the streets, held their children close, and cowered at Pilate's entrance; the crowds hailed Jesus with songs, cheers, waving palm branches and laying down their coats before Jesus.  Pilate came in the name of Tiberius.  Jesus came as the Son of David who would be King of Israel.  Pilate was hated.  Jesus was loved.  These were two kingdoms that could not have been more diametrically opposed.

Palm Sunday is about two kingdoms that were worlds apart even though they occupied the same city, the Holy City of Jerusalem.  Friends, this story reminds us that no kingdom of this world comes close to comparing to the Kingdom of our Lord.  Jesus came with the invitation to joyfully lay down our lives that we might receive life.  What a privilege it is to join that Palm Sunday crowd and embrace the Peaceable Kingdom of our Lord!

Seeking Life that is Truly Life,

Jonathan

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