Overthrow

When Jesus and his disciples entered Jerusalem, people thought they were ready for him. But he did something that should still surprise us today.

Matthew records the events in chapter 21.  It was not just any old parade. Sure there were people lining the roads watching and cheering, but they weren’t just celebrating an amazing person. They were hungry for a political overthrow. And they thought Jesus might be the one to lead it.

But there was a reason the Roman empire was in power for so long – they knew how to recognize a potential uprising and squash it. At the beginning of that Passover week, there was another entry with great fanfare, of another political leader — Pontus Pilate. They even used the Antonia Fortress — towers built right onto the side of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem — as if to remind the Jews during any festival or temple ritual who was really in charge. So, as the Jewish people prepared for their Passover week, there were two grand entries: Pilate, signifying earthly power, oppression and conquering, violence and pride. And Jesus, signifying the Kingdom of God,  a new order of peace and humility and freedom not only from political oppression but from the oppression of sin and death.

But instead of heading straight for the seat of Pilate’s political power, Jesus surprised everyone when the first place he went was the temple — the heart of religious life and authority.  Two practices had developed that corrupted the purpose of the temple.  
- Because Roman currency wasn’t allowed in the temple, people were charged a currency exchange fee in order to use money there.
- People coming to make sacrifices to God were made to buy their animals there, at inflated rates.
In short, religion had become a business profiting those in power.

So to people’s surprise, Jesus’ overthrow began in their own religious center, not Rome’s political center.  Because his interest was (and is) primarily for people to know their Heavenly Father.

On this Palm Sunday, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, we’re all being forced to ask: “What might Jesus be overthrowing in my life?  In our lives?”

For reflection:
  • What habits have you formed that Jesus might be overturning?
  • What trust have you put in human institutions that Jesus might be redirecting?
  • What blessings have you taken for granted that Jesus might be insisting you see and give thanks for?

Many Blessings!

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