On Fridays during this season of Lent, I'm posting readings from The Way: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus and its companion devotional. Today's post is an excerpt from The Way: 40 Days of Reflection.
The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is writ- ten: “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” (John 12:12-15 NRSV)
Each election season, I receive political phone calls almost non-stop—at least every thirty minutes. You know what I’m talking about. Whether it’s a local primary race or a national general election, we are bombarded with campaign slogans and candidate promises in hopes to persuade us to vote this way or that.
In the presidential election of 2012, the candidates and their supporters spent over two billion dollars trying to get elected. In the end, each voter had to make a choice as to which candidate should be leading our country going forward.
On the first Palm Sunday, those in Jerusalem were offered a choice as well. Three “candidates” marched into Jerusalem that week, perhaps on the same day: There was Pilate, accompanied by centurions riding on their magnificent steeds, planning to keep the peace by intimidation, preparing to crucify a handful of Jews who dared rebel against Rome’s authority. There was Herod Antipas, ruler of the Galilee, who had taken his brother’s wife as his own—an incident that shortly thereafter led to Herod’s beheading of John the Baptist for speaking against that act.
There was also a third candidate. He entered Jerusalem not on a stallion, but a donkey. He came not adorned in gold and silver and silks, but in the clothes of a carpenter. His followers were a ragtag band of misfits, tax collectors, prostitutes, common folk, and children who hailed him as a king on that Sunday as he entered Jerusalem. He spoke of loving your enemies, praying for those who persecute you, and turning the other cheek when mistreated.
As we come to worship this Palm Sunday, waving palm branches and singing, “Hosanna,” consider which person would you have chosen among these three?
Would you have chosen the powerful and the wealthy ones who ruled by might? Or the peasant king who called his followers to conquer by the power of sacrificial love?
As I awaken each morning, I always take a moment in prayer to hail Jesus once again as my Savior and King.
Lord, help me to choose you each day and to follow in the path you’ve laid out for me. You are my King and my Lord. Teach me to demonstrate kindness in the face of unkindness and to overcome evil by the power of love. Amen.
Photo credit: Jill Fromer, Getty Images