Today’s Word: ‘Processions’ as in… there were two processions entering Jerusalem on one spring day in the year 30BCE. Passover was beginning; the most sacred week of the Jewish year.
One was a peasant procession.
From the east, Jesus rode a donkey down the Mount of Olives. He was cheered on by his followers who had come to Jerusalem from Galilee, about a hundred miles to the north, to celebrate the Passover. Jesus was from Nazareth, a peasant village, his message was about the kingdom of God, and his followers came from the peasant class.
The other was an imperial procession.
From the west – on the opposite side of the city, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor entered Jerusalem at the head of a column of imperial cavalry and soldiers. Jesus’s procession proclaimed the power of the kingdom of God. Pilate’s procession proclaimed the power of empire. These two processions embody the central conflict of the week that led to Jesus’s crucifixion. Pilate’s procession embodied the power, glory, and violence of the empire that ruled the world. Jesus’s procession embodied an alternative vision, the kingdom of God.
This contrast between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Caesar is central to the story of Jesus and early Christianity. The confrontation between these two kingdoms continues through the last week of Jesus’s life, a week which ends with Jesus’s execution by the powers who ruled his world.
Holy Week and this story of confrontation is about an alternative procession; an alternative way of life. The alternative procession is what we see on Palm Sunday: an anti-imperial and nonviolent procession.
Holy Week as the annual remembrance of Jesus’s last week presents us with the always relevant questions: Which journey are we on? Which procession are we in? All of this leads to one place: the cross—the message: “It is finished.”
First, what in our lives needs to come to an end; finished?
Second, if there is an ending, there is also the hope and the promise of new beginnings.
What most needs to come to life in your life?