14 April 2019: Why this political road show?

Cross made out of palm fronds.

HOLY WEEK Palm Sunday – Passion Sunday

Reading 1:  Isaiah 50:4-7; Reading 2: Philippians 2:6-11

Passion Narrative: Matthew 26:14-27:66

 For my part I offered no resistance, neither did I turn away

Two events that finally seemed to have sealed the fate of Jesus, were: his triumphal entry into Jerusalem and his violent showdown against the religious merchants! Though these actions were uncharacteristic of his personality and intentions, they seem to have been organized and carried out intentionally by Jesus, in direct confrontation with the political and religious powers of the day.

Why did Jesus put up the famous political road show of that triumphal entry into Jerusalem? Becoming a king was a temptation that he had already overcome in the desert twice: once when tempted by the devil, and again when the crowds tempted him after the multiplication of loaves. We know that the Kingdom he preached was not political. Yet he seemed to have planned and enjoyed this triumphal demonstration in full public view! It gave wrong signals both to the crowds, who wanted him as king, and to the government which was wary of coup attempts by insurgent groups! Jesus had no intentions of capturing the priestly powers either! And he knew that both the establishments would combine to eliminate him at the slightest excuse!

The core passion of ‘God’s Reign’ in Jesus was not political or religious. Changing a government or a religious set up were transitory solutions; other oppressive political ideologies and religious systems would soon replace them. The basic ‘revolution’ he wanted to accomplish was to free human beings from the clutches of sin, i.e., to re-establish the Reign of God, or the Golden Rule of Love. Sin was the source of permanent slavery. Truth would lead to freedom! That is why he proclaimed to Pilate that he was ‘born for this – to bear witness to the truth’ and that his Kingdom was ‘not of this world’, although he was capable of this if he wished! If God ruled, political and religious purifications would automatically take place. Establishing the primacy of God in the individuals, in religions and in governments was his basic ‘passion’, the central theme of this “Passion Sunday”. And the law of love would bring about this revolution, if necessary, by personal suffering, rather than by hurting others! That is the revolutionary logic behind his submission to death!

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