Historians have argued that one of the greatest single acts of insurrection in Western history was Julius Caesar’s January 49 B.C.E crossing of the Rubicon. This act will change the course of human history, igniting a civil war, and eventually establishing the Roman Imperial system that would dominate for nearly 500 years.
As one historian put it, “Ancient Rome had a large influence on the modern world. Though it has been thousands of years since the Roman Empire flourished, we can still see evidence of it in our art, architecture, technology, literature, language, and law. From bridges and stadiums to books and the words we hear every day, the ancient Romans have left their mark on our world.”
And yet, this Sunday, we celebrate an even more significant and more impactful act of insurrection. What we often fail to see in the Triumphal Entry of Palm Sunday is the downright rebellious undertones that galvanize this moment.
Jesus does not come into Jerusalem as a peaceful and quiet Messiah. This is a very bold act of resistance.
Jesus is rebelling against the Jewish religious system that was full of corruption and sharing a bed with the overbearing might of the Roman Empire.
Jesus comes into the City riding on the back of a donkey with fanfare all around him. This is the triumphal entry of a king coming into his city. The triumphal entry was an act of revolution by a king.
Jesus is the insurrectionist king we need today. We too need Jesus to show us how to step over the religious, political, cultural, economic, relational, and spiritual walls that prevent us from living the way God designed us to live, to love our neighbor in the way that we love ourselves, to be a part of bringing the world right-side up in the way God intends for it to be.
But it is all too easy to move past the celebration of Palm Sunday and into those who end the week jeering up at Jesus as he hung on a cross.
Maybe our prayer for this Palm Sunday is to move us by faith to follow our insurrectionist king into a new way of thinking and living, beyond what we can understand and experience apart from him.
May this Palm Sunday be our crossing of the Rubicon into a life of peace, grace, joy, mercy, gratitude, unity, kindness, and love.