According to New Testament scholars Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, the Triumphal Entry was … an act of political theater, an anti-imperial demonstration designed to mock the obscene pomp and circumstance of Rome. …Borg and Crossan argue that two processions entered Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday; Jesus’ was not the only Triumphal Entry. Every year, the Roman governor of Judea would ride up to Jerusalem … to be present in the city for Passover – the Jewish festival that swelled Jerusalem’s population from its usual 50,000 to at least 200,000. The governor would come in all of his imperial majesty to remind the Jewish pilgrims that Rome was in charge. They could
commemorate an ancient victory against Egypt if they wanted to. But real, present-day resistance (if anyone was daring to consider it) was futile. Pontius Pilate’s imperial procession [was] ‘A visual panoply of imperial power: cavalry on horses, foot solders, leather armor, helmets, weapons, banners, golden eagles mounted on poles, sun glinting on metal and gold.’ … according to Roman imperial belief, the emperor was not simply the ruler of Rome; he was the Son of God. For the empire’s Jewish subjects, Pilate’s procession … was the embodiment of a rival theology. Heresy on horseback. This is the background … against which we need to frame the Triumphal Entry of Jesus. …As Pilate clanged and crashed his imperial way into Jerusalem from the west, Jesus approached from the east, looking (by contrast) ragtag and absurd. His was the procession of the ridiculous, the powerless, the explicitly vulnerable. ‘What we often call the triumphal entry was actually an anti-imperial, anti-triumphal one, a deliberate lampoon of the conquering emperor entering a city on horseback through gates opened in abject submission.’ Elsewhere, Crossan notes that Jesus rode ‘the most unthreatening, most un-military mount imaginable: a female nursing donkey with her little colt trotting along beside her.'” Debbie Thomas
“They … went out to meet him, shouting, … ‘Blessed is the king of Israel!’” John 12:13
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Imagine all the Roman/human values being critiqued, rejected – even mocked by Jesus here. Are you comfortable with this Jesus who confronts the political powers? Who attempts to undercut all they stand for? this “agitator?”
- Imagine the concepts being redefined here: “power”, “foolishness”, “triumph”, etc.
- As a follower of Jesus today, are you comfortable with “speaking truth to power?” public agitating? choosing “weakness?”
Abba, your Son is awesome.
For More: The Last Week by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of value with you daily in 400 words or less. Thanks for your interest. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)