Sunday, March 20, 2016 10:00 am ·  0 Comments
Many preachers will say this week something like, ‘these crowds who welcomed Jesus with waving palm branches will turn on him and yell ‘Crucify him!’ In a few days.’ Luke 19.28-40
But I suggest that’s not very likely.
Zechariah 9:9 speaks of God who is coming not only as “humble and riding on a donkey,” but as “triumphant and victorious” as the oppressors are forced out of power. Humble yet also triumphant.
The crowd that gathered for the demonstration wanted to have their occupied country set free of Roman rule.
Jesus’ ride symbolically trampled not only the Roman rule, but the privilege of the religious elite who collaborated with the foreign occupation. Jesus dramatized the hope that Israel would be a servant people, with no imperial power over them.
Palm branches waved madly. The branches recalled the Maccabean Revolt against the Syrian Empire, a time of liberation from foreign control.
Shouts of “Hosanna” greeted Jesus all along the palm parade route. “Hosanna” means “save us.” Jesus boldly walked toward the power seat amid the cries and hopes of a people longing for freedom.
The people welcomed Jesus with open arms.
Today we mark the hospitality of the people of Jerusalem for Jesus.
In Matthew 10.7-14, Jesus gives the disciples their mission: they are to go out and give good news and heal people – they are to seek the hospitality of others – where it is not offered, they are to shake the dust off their feet and go on to the next house or town. They are to go out looking for hospitality; if they don’t find it, well, ‘don’t go where you aren’t wanted’.
We learn from Palm Sunday and from the words of Jesus that the bonding of mission to hospitality is essential.
Where hospitality is present, we are to identify its significance for new life and hope in the midst of oppression and misery. Where it is absent, we should move on, understanding that the closer one moves to the victims of inhospitality and violence, one must embody the same good news one seeks to proclaim – that is we must be hospitable too.
We are called to mirror God’s ways as Jesus did – offering and receiving hospitality.
Our practice of receiving and giving hospitality is essential to our spiritual growth. As we have more consciously sought to open ourselves to others who cross our thresholds, we have grown in our ability to go out into the world and proclaim the promise that hospitality embodies.
We have done what Jesus instructed: gone looking for hospitality among the most despised of the earth.
When members of Maple Grove United Church went on a mission trip to India with Rotary International’s Polio Plus program to vaccinate children against polio, we discovered a depth of hospitality not known to us before. A local doctor said to me, “you are seeing the poorest people in the world.” Yet, no matter how poor, the people hosted us for tea, fruit and biscuits before we began our work saving their children. We were literally treated like gods.
What was in Jesus’ mind on that first Palm Sunday? Why did he encourage this show of hospitality on his way to the cross? We know that he planned this, thought about what he was doing, and understood it’s meaning and significance for the people.
Why did he do it? Because hospitality is the only context in which the disciples will be able to proclaim the coming of God’s kingdom.
Were the people who welcomed Jesus with loud ‘Hosannas!’ the same people who cried ‘Crucify him!’ a few days later?
Think about it. Jesus was betrayed, arrested, interrogated and tortured at night. A small number of the elite plotted his death in secret, in the darkness. And by sunrise he was hanging on a cross. Few people would have been awake let alone hanging around the courts of the oppressors if they knew what was good for them.
The hospitality of the many still persisted. There were people there who followed after the crucifixion; there were people there who followed Jesus for the rest of their lives; and there were people there who followed Jesus to their deaths.
The promise of God’s reign is experienced in those moments. Jesus received hospitality during the moment of his entrance into the city. That is what we remember in the procession of the palms. Hospitality was a hint of the reception of Jesus that lasts to this day; hospitality was a hint of what the kingdom looks like.
this is a hint of what relationships in God’s kingdom look like.
Hosannas that last forever!