Running from Palm Sunday to Easter Monday the Jesus Chronicles are a series of reflections on the Easter story and the life and death and life of Jesus and those who were around him. I jump in and out of the narrative from 2000 years ago, and at times take a few liberties – it’s not my aim to be 100% historically and theologically accurate. Instead my hope is that in retelling the story we can see how we are still a part of it. If you missed yesterday’s opening post I suggest you start there.
The crowds who watched Jesus enter Jerusalem were puzzled. He came on a donkey, he avoided the crowds. When they started to fawn all over him he stood up and talked in such a bizarre manner that most of them turned and left. Yet the authorities were worried, the chief priests were looking for a charge to lay against him, they even went after the man he raised from the dead.
Surely he was just doing all of this to increase the intrigue? Build up an underground following that would burst out at the crucial moment and declare him as their king. Some of them had seen him speak, most of them had heard the stories, the loaves multiplied, the blind given sight. This was the hope that they needed.
They were ready to answer his call. The religious authorities thought they could control everything, they were particularly keen on making sure no one threatened their cherished position as the underlings of the Roman Empire. There was this sense of anticipation around Jerusalem that things were about to change.
This Jesus had been wondering around for the past few years, he’d covered a lot of ground, after all building an insurgency in Judea called for a sophisticated retail politics operation. He’d made the calls, formed his exploratory committee, dubbed ‘the disciples’. He’d shook a lot of hands, kissed a lot of babies, grabbed some attention with carefully timed and brilliantly executed PR stunts. He’d commissioned field directors for his core constituencies and sent them out on practice runs to act as his operatives. They were even doing some surrogate media spots, casting out the odd demon, healing the sick, making sure they were doing it in his name. All in all he had a pretty good grass roots operation under way.
Now he just needed to make his big splash. The big entrance. Declare his candidacy to the world.
This Jesus had made some pretty big claims as he’d travelled around. It seemed as though he reckoned he had some kind of special access to God. Who could forget the tales of when he was baptised in the River Jordan?
After years of oppression it was time for something new. After the tired rules of the Sadducees and the Pharisees maybe the time had come. The Essenes had fled to the hills and the Zealots were sharpening their swords. Here was a king for the post-priesthood era of politics.
He could unite the factions, he could transcend their partisan differences. He was from the line of David but raised in the home of a carpenter. Here was the king to lead the revolution, no wonder the crowds had lined the streets and laid down their palm leaves.
They didn’t quite get everything he said, some of it just went straight over their heads. But they saw something, they felt it when he spoke, the hairs on their forearms started to rise.
This one was special. And he was here, they thought, they hoped, ready to lead their revolution.
He is a revolutionary king.