Jonathan's Perspective  

Apr 12

'Dreams, Reality, and God!'

Palm Sunday reminds us that life is complex. As soon as we think we know which end is up, we have to readjust to intruding reality. Palm Sunday is a great case in point: there was the people's point of view, the Roman point of view, and God's view - which is usually the most surprising. 

First, the people were so excited that they had a messiah to hail as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Passover. Passover was the celebration of how God brought the Israelites out of captivity, plundering the Egyptian empire, and destroying their army. The palm branches were reminiscent of how the people hailed the Israeli army led by Judas. Jesus riding a colt reminded the Israelites that David had Solomon paraded around Jerusalem proclaiming that he was the heir to the kingdom. It was clear the people waving palm branches were expecting Jesus to become the new king of Israel and destroy the evil Roman empire. 

Rome, and many leaders in Israel, had a different view of things. While Jesus paraded in from the East, Pilate rode in from the West on his war horse and royal guard to destroy any hint of a revolt. The Roman Republic had just been overthrown by Julius Caesar in 43 BC. His son, Augustus, ruled at the time of Jesus' birth. Now Tiberius was in power, who was called 'the son of God.' The spread of the Roman Empire was hailed as 'Good News.' And Tiberius was proclaimed the 'King of the whole world'. In fact, Israel was just a small chaotic country on the way to the breadbasket of Egypt. Many Jewish leaders tried to discredit Jesus so that they wouldn't get in trouble with Rome. 

God had a different plan. Jesus didn't have the same vision as those who praised His coming. Jesus didn't come to meet their expectations, but to meet their deepest needs. Jesus didn't share the same perspective as the rulers of Israel; trying to keep an uneasy peace with an evil empire. Jesus didn't come to meet their expectations, but their deepest needs. What were their deepest need? Absolution of sin. Jesus didn't come to battle Rome, but to battle our toughest foes - sin and death. 

'What comes out of you is what defiles you. For from within, out of your hearts come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All of these evils come from inside and defile you.' Mt 7:20f 

Jesus was riding in to Jerusalem with the cross in mind, not a civil revolt or a throne. Jesus rode to Jerusalem to take unto himself the sin of all so that He might destroy it's hold over our hearts and our souls. In fact, the Israelites would try a civil revolt 40 years later, only to be utterly decimated by Rome - even the Temple was torn down. But at the same time, God was on the march across the Roman Empire saving one heart after another. While the Roman Empire is long gone, the Church of Jesus Christ continues to grow into the image of the one who humbly, self-sacrificially, rode into Jerusalem. 

Do you dream of God taking your side in your petty wars? To side with you against those you find vexing? Or are you afraid God may ask too much of you and disturb the reality of your uneasy peace at work or home? I encourage you to let God be truly God of your life. Allow Him to transform your heart, so that you can even love your enemies enough to tell them about the One who has set you free.

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