When Jesus comes to town

Good Monday Morning to this week 15 of 2019

Yesterday the Passion Week started with Palm Sunday. Jerusalem, which had a normal population of about 50,000 at the time of Jesus, had at least tripled in size because of the influx of pilgrims celebrating the Jewish holiday Passover. Early Sunday morning Jesus made his dramatic public entry into the city. This was the end of any privacy and safety his ministry had afforded previously. It marked the beginning of what would be an inevitable collision course with the religious and political authorities: both Jewish and Roman.

From the East Jesus entered near the Temple, crowds began to gather to see the rabbi from Galilee. The procession began accompanied by shouting and singing from the throngs as they threw down their garments on the pathway to cushion his ride — an Oriental custom still observed on occasions — as well as palm fronds, the symbol of triumph. The Old Testament prophet Zechariah had foretold the arrival of the Messianic king in Jerusalem via the humble conveyance of a donkey. Here the crowd hailed Jesus as “the son of David”, a loaded name used at a loaded time. The Bible had predicted that the Messiah would be the son of David.

The priestly establishment was understandably disturbed, as the palm was the national emblem of an independent Palestine. These were essentially Jewish flags. What if Jesus should claim to be the heir of King David? Religiously, Jesus was a dangerous item to the current establishment. The people were hailing the Teacher from Galilee as something more than a man, and Jesus was not denying or blunting this “blasphemous” adulation. The Pharisees had been reprimanded by Jesus in public debate, being called vipers, whitewashed tombs, and devourers of widow’s houses. Humiliated, they would be only too happy to conspire with the scribes, elders, and chief priests against him!

What is your, what is my reaction to Jesus’s entrance in two processions as being political demonstrations? The Sunday demonstration (Palm Sunday) occurs at the entrance to Jerusalem, the Monday one at the entrance to the temple.

The historical political Jesus was a spirit person, one of those figures in human history with an experiential awareness of the reality of God…Jesus was a teacher of wisdom who regularly used the classic form of wisdom speech to teach a subversive and alternative wisdom. Jesus was a social prophet, similar to the classical prophets of ancient Israel. As such, he criticised the elites of his time, was an advocate of an alternative social vision, and was often in conflict with authorities. Jesus was a movement founder who brought into being a Jewish renewal or revitalisation movement that challenged and shattered the social boundaries of his day, a movement that eventually became the early Christian church.” Marcus Borg

Jesus, a social prophet and movement initiation, a passionate advocate of God’s justice. He was also a healer, a mystic, a wisdom teacher but most certainly he wasn’t killed for his healings but because of his politics, because of his passion for God’s justice.

This “already” of the Kingdom of God was not an instantaneous flash of divine light, but an interactive process between divinity and humanity, a joint operation between God and ourselves. It is not us without God, or God without us. It is not that we wait for God, but that God waits for us. You won’t find Jesus in the land of the dead. He is still with us.

The powers killed him – but they couldn’t stop him. They crucified him and buried him in a rich man’s tomb. But imperial execution and a tomb couldn’t hold him.

He’s still loose in the world. He’s still out there, still here, still recruiting people to share his passion for the Kingdom of God – a transformed world here and now. It’s not over, he still “comes to town”!

I wish you a blessed week as you live a transformed life with God waiting for you!

Philemon

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