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Could it be that Palm Sunday can’t be understood without reference to Good Friday?
He was talking about the need to entrust one’s life to the one who ushered in the realm of God. Scholars even have a term for it – the “Messianic Secret of Mark.” The kingdom is coming. He’s revealing it in his actions, including his acts of healing.One commentator points out that it’s quite possible that the animal is so small that Jesus’ feet would be dragging on the ground. Not only that, the people start shouting: “Hosanna!Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Sometimes we like to think of things like this as spontaneous, but Jesus knew what he was doing.While I spent my youth as first an acolyte and then a lay reader in the Episcopal Church, I took a while before I caught hold of that vision. I went to seminary with the intention of being a college professor.I was going to teach church history and preach on occasion, but not as a full-time pastor. My dreams of an academic career eventually gave way to a recognition of a call to preach the good news of God’s realm. First came John and he preached a message of repentance. He wasn’t the one who would inaugurate it, but he would pave the way. After his baptism and his temptation, he took up his calling as a preacher. Like John, Jesus called on the people to repent and believe. For preachers, there is always the danger of upsetting the people who pay the salary.As Charles Campbell puts it: “Jesus goes to take possession of Jerusalem unarmed and riding on a colt” [Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B, Vol. 155] This is a difficult lesson for us to learn, especially since the Constantinian embrace.We have grown comfortable with living by the sword.People like parades, and if one starts people will gather. The people are shouting words of blessing, claiming for him the throne of David. Neither the Temple authorities nor the Roman overlords would be happy with such a message. This kind of action can get you arrested and even killed.It could be the Rose Parade or the Doo Dah (that’s a parody of Pasadena’s Rose Parade that’s been around for nearly forty years—I went to it once during the early years). If the crowd starts to follow the parade, so do you. Could it be that Jesus is courting a confrontation? At the same time, there’s the animal upon which he’s riding. But, if you go with John 12, it has prophetic roots.Caesar rides in on either a war horse or in a chariot, followed by his legions, as well as captives (slaves). It didn’t take long for a crowd to gather and join in. First there is the style and then there is the substance.Yes, if you’re going to have a triumphal parade you have to have captives to show off, along with plunder. That’s just the way it is with parades, whether it’s the Rose Parade or the When the parade starts, a crowd gathers. The parade has the style of a triumphal parade, only the hero rides on a donkey and not a war horse.