Making the Road: Walking through Lent (Sunday, April 10, Luke 19:28-40)

As we make this road into the holy city of Jerusalem, we walk alongside
Jesus riding a colt, his disciples shouting praises, making a scene and
drawing a crowd. Across the city, another powerful leader makes his
entrance. In their book, The Last Week: A Day-by-Day Account of Jesus’s
Final Week in Jerusalem, Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan describe,
in vivid detail, the procession of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of
Idumea, Judea, and Samaria. It was standard practice for governors to show
up in cities during major festivals. Pilate wasn’t coming to help celebrate
Passover, though, but to maintain order and squash any rebellion that
might arise among a crowd unhappy with their Roman oppressors.
Pilate’s procession into Jerusalem was a showy parade of strength. Pilate
led the way on a huge war horse, followed by his calvary, followed by his
foot soldiers. According to Borg and Crossan, they’d be dressed in leather
armor and helmets, carrying weapons, banners, and golden eagles mounted
on poles. It was a display of both imperial power and imperial theology.
The Roman emperor was not simply a political ruler. Augustus, the greatest
of Roman emperors who ruled from 31 B.C.E. to 14 C.E., was believed to
be the son of Apollo. Augustus was referred to as “son of God,” “lord,” and
“savior,” and his successors continued to bear these divine titles.
Given this context, Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem appears more like a show
of planned resistance than a humble parade. The danger and tension rise
in this narrative as one “Son of God” enters Jerusalem from the east and
another from the west. The road Jesus is making confronts and contradicts
the power of the world. Jesus’ way is the road of humility and peace, not
intimidating strength and terrorizing power.

Son of the Living God, let us not be confused about who you are and
the road you lead us down. Let us make our road humble and work
for peace. Amen

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