Palm Sunday was much more political than most Christians would like. Jesus entered Jerusalem on a colt, a symbolic messianic gesture (see Zechariah 9:9), in a processional that could easily be construed as mocking the triumphal entries of Pontius Pilate or other Roman leaders into town. The palm branches are also the symbol of a victorious ruler, and of the coming Messiah (1 Macc 13). When the Pharisees chastise Jesus to silence the crowd, he responds with a quip from Habbakuk 2:9-11…
“Woe to him who builds his house by unjust gain,
setting his nest on high
to escape the clutches of ruin!
You have plotted the ruin of many peoples,
shaming your own house and forfeiting your life.
The stones of the wall will cry out,
and the beams of the woodwork will echo it.”
As I go to vote in the North Carolina primaries, it haunts me to know that Christians are being associated with rhetoric that is so opposed to the way of Christ. I in no way wish to endorse one political candidate as more Christ-like than another… I’ve never been too impressed with candidates who use Christianity as a way to draw votes for themselves, and I’m especially turned off by anyone who calls themselves a leader by capitalizing on the fears and hysteria of the masses.
Just as on the first Palm Sunday, Christ is entering the back door, maybe on a moped this time, countering this culture of hatred we have built… While we raise our glasses to those who would protect us from the people we have pushed aside, the very stones and woodwork of our security cry out against us, proclaiming, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” The call of Christ, especially on this Palm Sunday, is one that challenges every wall we build to protect ourselves at the expense of others.
The peace that Jesus brings is a peace with justice, a peace that could never be fully realized by a government or worldly kingdom. May we be peacemakers as we enter this Holy Week. May we listen to people who support different political candidates than us. May we work alongside the poorest, surround ourselves with people who are different from us, and look deep into their eyes for the spark of the Holy Spirit…that prevenient grace alive in all people.