Fun Fact: On this day in 1969, the internet was born. The Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded a contract to build a precursor of today's worldwide web to BBN Technologies. In October of that year, a student programmer at UCLA sent the letter “l” and the letter “o” electronically more than 350 miles to a Stanford Research Institute computer in Menlo Park, California. The letters stood for “login." And the effort led to a system crash immediately afterward.
Nevertheless, a technological revolution had begun. Little did those developers know that their countless hours of hard work and sacrifice would one day lead to the financial advancement of social media influencers that make a hard-earned living posting ridiculous videos on the world wide web.
This coming Sunday, we are celebrating a revolution. Often misunderstood through popular Christianese art of the last century, Palm Sunday has been seen as a serene moment in Jerusalem’s history. Typically, Jesus is pictured as a perfectly groomed man, in flowing bleach white robes recently dry-cleaned at Kean’s Bethany location and riding upon a perfectly manicured donkey. Throngs of worshipers have spontaneously pulled palm branches down from the thousands of trees, laying them upon the road as Jesus enters the city in triumphal peace.
Except, ugh, that’s not how things went down. Jesus’s robes most likely had more wrinkles than are socially acceptable for today’s Sunday morning worship goers. But the tone and tenor of this bold act from Jesus was quite revolutionary.
Jesus entered Jerusalem during Passover week, in which the city population would have quadrupled as the faithful came to worship, offer sacrifices, and pay their tithes. He doesn’t come quietly but in the bold traditions of a conquering king entering his city.
The story does not stop as he crosses one of the city gates but continues to the Temple. There Jesus overturns money leader tables and scatters animals to be purchased for sacrifice. Jesus was rebelling against the Jewish religious system full of corruption and sharing a bed with the overbearing might of the Roman Empire.
The triumphal entry was an act of insurrection by a king. Though not a king in the way we understand it. He’s not a king coming to rule with violence, dominance, and overbearing taxes. He’s not a king setting up his throne to be worshipped by humiliated patrons.
This is an act of insurrection leading to the ultimate revolution of the cross and resurrection. And like the thousands who misunderstood his actions on that day, we, too, can mistake what God is doing in our lives and the world around us. Like the disciples who will fail to connect between all the things that he said and did that led to the cross, we, too, can forget to link Jesus’ radical way to our lives.
But the most brilliant aspect of what we call Palm Sunday is that Jesus still desires to start a revolution within our hearts, minds, and souls. Jesus wants to radically transform our way of thinking and living into something better, more beautiful, life-giving, and more promising.
All it takes is an act of faith to trade out the Jesus we want, the picturesque and simplified one, for the one we need, the insurrectionist changing the world one person at a time.