On this Palm Sunday we commemorate Jesus entering Jerusalem; six days before the Passover. And yet in this Passover Jesus was crucified.
People passionately welcomed and praised Jesus citing the Psalms.
Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.Psalms 118:26
The atmosphere was so positive. They were so happy seeing the Old Testament’s prophecy would finally come true.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.Zechariah 9:9
They expected that this new king was going to emancipate them from the Roman’s oppression. In Jesus, they anticipated the revival of the son of King David, the prince of this world.
Jesus, however, said otherwise. The prince of this world will be cast away, implying his own death.
Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.John 12:31-33
Jesus knew that what they thought was a false expectation.
What Jesus would bring should not be the kingdom of this world. He was neither a political leader nor a revolutionist. He was not a man of violent but of peace. This is why, Jesus rode a donkey in entering Jerusalem, not a horse.
Soon after, unsurprisingly, people got disappointed. Even one of the disciples answered back.
Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.John 12:3-8
It seems to Judas that Jesus looks so unrealistic, idealistic, even ethereal. He thought what people need was the power in this world, the bread for their living, and socio-political freedom, and social justice; moreover, success and prosperity in this world.
What Jesus said, however, sounds enigmatic for him, saying I am the bread of life, the light, the way, and the truth. Perhaps, a lot of people would rather agree with Judas. (I don’t mention the perspective of the Gospel of Judas that Judas was the one who knew what Jesus intended.)
People quickly started hating Jesus. He was no longer their hope, but a blasphemous dreamer. Their interest shifted from Jesus to Barabbas.
But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.Matthew 27:20-23
Mobs are cruel, easily manipulated, and collectively selfish. Their disappointment and disillusionment generate the sense of anger and hatred without knowing details.
We are such cruel, selfish mobs.
Throughout human history, we have repeated such praise to hatred patterns, endlessly, even now. Seeing both palm branches and crucifixion together, this week should be the time when we contemplate on how we are such cruel, selfish, and irresponsible mobs.
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