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Palm Sunday, March 29, 2015

Today’s Reading | Mark 11:1–11

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
      Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
      Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
      Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. (NRSV)

Along with John Dominic Crossan, the late Marcus Borg pointed out the unmistakably political nature of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It was a mockery of the way Jerusalem’s Roman rulers would have entered the city, and by staging this elaborate demonstration Jesus was boldly proclaiming the emergence of an alternative kingdom. More broadly, in the last book published before his death, Borg makes clear that the Bible as a whole—and by extension the Christian faith that is shaped by it—is political.

This doesn’t mean that we should try to fit Jesus or the Bible into the polarized ideologies of contemporary American politics. Over the past several decades, we have seen how this generally leads to disastrous results.

But it does mean that it is a naïve attempt at compartmentalization to say that our faith has nothing to do with politics, as if devotion to God were a private matter that never impacts our public lives. If our faith doesn’t influence how we understand and live in our world, what good is it?

Throughout this Lenten season we have immersed ourselves in the Gospel of Mark and have seen how Jesus’ life and ministry were shaped by his conviction that the kingdom of God was coming to be. As his mission comes to its dramatic conclusion during Holy Week, may we have eyes to see and ears to hear what this ancient story has to say about the world we live in today.

God of all life, help me to walk closely by Jesus’ side this week as he leads us into the very heart of your kingdom. Amen.

Written by John W. Vest, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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