This Sunday begins Holy Week, arguably the heart of the Christian faith’s theology and mission. This is the week that concludes the season of Lent and transitions us into Easter.
Holy week begins in a way that we often consider a celebration, and in previous Palm Sunday celebrations we have contrasted Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on one side of the city with the entry of Pontius Pilate on the other. Accenting this contrast is the perspective that the waving of palms and shouting of “Hosanna!” may have been overt acts of protest against the occupying powers.
Mark 11:1-11 (CEB)
1When Jesus and his followers approached Jerusalem, they came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives. Jesus gave two disciples a task, 2saying to them, “Go into the village over there. As soon as you enter it, you will find tied up there a colt that no one has ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘Its master needs it, and he will send it back right away.'”
4They went and found a colt tied to a gate outside on the street, and they untied it. 5Some people standing around said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6They told them just what Jesus said, and they left them alone. 7They brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes upon it, and he sat on it. 8Many people spread out their clothes on the road while others spread branches cut from the fields. 9Those in front of him and those following were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! 10Blessings on the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest!” 11Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. After he looked around at everything, because it was already late in the evening, he returned to Bethany with the Twelve.
Consider these questions:
- In contrast with first century Jerusalem, we don’t live in an occupied city. Even so, protests are not uncommon. Do you think there is a Biblical and/or theological justification (or even mandate) for protesting?
- If Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem can be seen as a protest, would you call it a “successful” protest? What makes it successful or not? Does this reasoning apply to protests today?
Post-Sermon Update on 3/27
Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).
Sunday’s exploration of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem described this event as an overt political protest. Scriptural and historical understanding of the colt, the palms, and the shouts all suggest that Jesus and the disciples and the crowds were using their voices and actions to speak against the Roman occupying powers of the time. Political protests may be on our minds because of the crowds in cities around the country participating in the March For Our Lives events, including here in San Diego.
All this leads to the assertion that we must be engaged in our faith. We must participate. We must be active.
Consider these questions:
- In what ways have you felt most fulfilled in actively living out your faith? How often do you participate in this activity?
- Whether or not there’s a regular practice through which you actively live out your faith, what additional ways can you think of to live out your faith in an outward way?
- What might keep you from stepping up your active engagement in this way? And how can you resist whatever might hold you back?