He disarmed those who once ruled over us—those who had overpowered us. Like captives of war, He put them on display to the world to show His victory over them by means of the cross.
Colossians 2:15 (The Voice)
Since last month’s shooting in Parkland, Florida, school students have walked out of classes all over America to protest gun violence in this nation. Many of these young people hearken back to the “Freedom Riders” for Civil Rights and the Anti-War (Vietnam) protesters of the 1960s. And like their socially-conscious “ancestors,” these youth risked reprisal: in this case, from their school districts for doing so (two towns here in New Jersey I know of are guilty of this).
This anti-gun violence protesting has culminated with a “March for Our Lives” that took place yesterday in Washington, DC (the seat of American power) that was organized by the survivor-students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre. Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the nation’s capital accompanied by fellow protesters across the nation and globe. Despite counter-protests by gun-rights advocates, yesterday’s events took center stage. This loud message was aimed straight at the powers that be in Washington-and elsewhere-that are in bed with the gun lobby including the National Rifle Association. This time, our youth has put these legislators and lobbyists on center stage likened to “captives of war” for all the world to see.
Today is Palm Sunday. Today, we commemorate Jesus’s “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem (the seat of Roman/Jewish power in Jesus’s day) a few days before his Crucifixion*. Jesus-accompanied by his disciples-rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Jesus-ever since his ministry on Earth began-has preached truth to the powers that be. Jesus-like many of us today-contended with the political and religious elites that were in bed with the Roman Empire which oppressed Jesus’s people.
Upon his entry into Jerusalem, Jesus knew the reprisal he would face from the authorities. Jesus knew that going up against the powers that be with the Realm of God would be death for certain. He knew the waving palms and shouts of “Hosanna!” would be clenched fists and shouts of “Crucify Him!” in only a few days. Jesus’s entry reflected the humility and self-sacrifice that are hallmarks of God’s Realm. God-through Jesus-used a lowly service animal instead of a stallion to bring His/Her Christ into the face of power. To me, this entry was an act of Divine protest against the spiritual and political violence against God’s people. Just like the young protesters about two millennia later, Jesus took aim at the powers that be.
Today, as we celebrate Palm Sunday, we will be called to protest that which is against God’s Realm. God will call us to stand up against the powers that be like Jesus and today’s youth. Will we be willing to stand despite reprisal?
Protest on Palm Sunday? Something for us to think on.
Peace.*Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-38; and John 12:12-19
(Image courtesy of The Washington Post)