Yesterday began Holy Week. A week that surpasses even Christmas in importance.
The week begins with the crowds welcoming their savior. They pave his way with what they have on hand: their cloaks and palm leaves. They shout, “God! Save us!” (“Hosanna!”).
The crowds know they need someone to save them from the oppressive, decadent, degenerate Roman state. They know they require someone to violently change the world because it's so obvious that the whole world is falling apart. God's people have watched the generations come and go, even as those generations reject their values and laws. As far as we can tell, the crowds mean to shout, “God! Save us! Overthrow the government and give it to us! Break modern culture and bring back our traditions! Give us political and social power so that we can force your will (or what we think is your will) on everyone around us. We want power and we want it now.”
Unbeknownst to almost everyone, Jesus planned to do exactly that—but on a much, much, much higher level. He didn't come just to overthrow Rome and give it to his followers. He came to overthrow every oppressive regime in all history—past, present, and future. He had already built his army: twelve men plus the mention of a few women: none of them strong or powerful.
He trained his army with words: “Blessed are the poor... Blessed are the meek... If someone strikes you on the cheek, let them strike the other... If someone sues you, give them more than they demand... Submit to all governing authorities...” He showed his army that the only way to overcome evil is to cut off its power at the source:
Don't like taxes? Give all your money to the government that minted it. Then give all your life to God. Don't like the different sects of your religion? Remember that God made the whole earth for his worship, even your body is a temple! Nobody can prevent you from approaching him.
And the big one: is Rome oppressive? Is their culture full of evil and debauchery? Love the people at the heart of the evil and debauchery! Show kindness to the corrupt politicians who steal money. Let the prostitutes eat dinner at your table. Defend them when the old church people cast judgement.
Does the government control you through fear? Remember that even the justices of the supreme court will be judged by the same Judge as you. Do they threaten to confiscate your goods? Give all your goods to the poor! They can't take what you don't have. Do they threaten violence? Let Rome kill you and prove that even death holds no fear for you.
Our “Hosanna!” was answered through demonstration: Jesus showed us the way to overcome every earthly power: by proving that it really has no power at all.
If we follow him, we will enter his city with triumph.