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Why Jesus needs to do this may result from his recognition that it’s easy to misunderstand the message.With the celebration of Martin Luther King’s birth and legacy fresh in our minds, it is worth reflecting on how his famed “I have a dream” speech has been used to sustain the status quo.As Charles Campbell puts it: “Jesus goes to take possession of Jerusalem unarmed and riding on a colt” [Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B, Vol. 155] This is a difficult lesson for us to learn, especially since the Constantinian embrace.We have grown comfortable with living by the sword.
Christians in American have been accustomed to our hegemony.
One commentator points out that it’s quite possible that the animal is so small that Jesus’ feet would be dragging on the ground. Not only that, the people start shouting: “Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Sometimes we like to think of things like this as spontaneous, but Jesus knew what he was doing.
Consider this word from Zechariah 9:9: Zechariah puts into juxtaposition “triumphant and victorious” with “humble and riding on a donkey.” These don’t seem to go together, and yet here they are. It would seem to suggest that the kind of king that Jesus intends to be will be quite different from Caesar and his successors.
It is by the power of the war machine that Jesus will inaugurate his kingdom, but through humility.
Could it be that Palm Sunday can’t be understood without reference to Good Friday?