Thought for the week, April 5 2019

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Two processions entered Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday around 2000 years ago.

One was a peasant procession, the other an imperial procession.

From the east Jesus rode a donkey down the Mount of Olives, cheered by his followers – a ragged, but enthusiastic band.

Jesus was from the peasant village of Nazareth, his message was about the kingdom of God, and his followers came from the peasant class.

On the opposite side of the city from the west, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea and Samaria, entered Jerusalem at the head of a column of imperial cavalry and soldiers.

Jesus’ procession proclaimed the kingdom of God; Pilate’s proclaimed the power of the empire.

Imagine the imperial procession arriving in the city.

It would be a visual manifestation of power: cavalry on horseback, foot soldiers, leather armour, helmets, weapons, banners, golden eagle standards mounted on poles and flags fluttering in the breeze of authority.

Listen to the sounds: the marching of boots, the creaking of leather, the clinking of bridles, the beating of drums, the sound of authority.

Pilate’s procession displayed not only imperial power, but also Roman imperial theology.

And according to this theology, the emperor was not simply the ruler of Rome, but the Son of God.

Here was a conflict if ever there was one.

Jesus’ procession deliberately countered what was happening on the other side of the city.

Pilate’s procession embodied the power, the glory and violence of the empire that ruled the world.

Jesus’ procession embodied an alternative vision, the kingdom of God and the power of love.

Rome proclaimed the love of power.

People were joining the processions.

Which procession will you follow?