Before I start with what will be an extended Weekly Sunday Sermon for the internet in honor of Palm Sunday, I'd like to remind you that I don't care what you believe let alone if you agree with me. I hope you'll offer me similar courtesy. In my view, as long as you live with love, forgiveness, without judgment of your peers, but with empathy as well as a desire to help those in need, you're doing it well enough. If you're new to my rants, you might also need to know that in my view, a vast majority of Christians are celebrating Christ wrong. It's my calling to try and convince one or two of them to put judgment aside, and live in service and community with others to make sure all of the homeless are housed, all of the hungry are fed, all of the sick find care, and all find justice in a more fair and peaceful plan for humanity. But onto Palm Sunday...
Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, had been pissing off people in power by preaching that God was loving, not jealous and vengeful as they'd previously been told. He said that God was in all of us, as the holy spirit. He told people to serve, forgive and love each other, despite differences. He commanded we share with each other, and serve the poor, hungry and sick. He challenged the bankers, and the new fangled Roman currency. He challenged the church of Israel and the royal family of Israel being one in the same, and for being in bed with the Romans, and then fed 5,000 Israelis at once, showing he had the ability to defy the state and serve the people without them. After his friend and mentor John the Baptist was beheaded, Jesus began working with gentiles as much as Jews, and started speaking about how different tribes of humanity were all God's children deserving love, dignity and respect. Jesus challenged the teachings of the elders because those teachings had been elevated to the status of Scripture, when very little was the word of God. He traveled out of the country to the region of Tyre and Sidon and met a Canaanite woman, which was forbidden. As he came back to the region of Galilee, he fed the four thousand more, a sign that he could meet the needs of all the nations. He realized his death was inevitable. Everybody in power wanted him dead for speaking truth to power, but he had one last coup up his sleeve.
There's some argument as to if he knew Judas was to betray him, because he actually asked Judas to betray him. While I love that argument, it's not necessary for Palm Sunday, as when Jesus of Nazareth came back to Jerusalem to be judged by the corrupt courts of Israel, he knew his fate. Before entering the city he paused in sadness over a vision of the Romans taking the second temple of Israel, as they had the first. Personally I like to think that was out of sadness for what the church in his name would become.
Alright, we might need a little more background here, for those not hip to the story. Jesus had already been charged as enemy to the State. On what we now call Palm Sunday, he was being taken in front of the Sanhedrin, the Israeli courts of the day. While one justice abstained from voting, the rest found him guilty of perverting the nation, forbidding the payment of tribute, and sedition against the Roman Empire. He would go on to Pontius Pilate's court for sentencing. Basically Israel and Rome were in allegiance after warring at this time, though the region was quite a bit more complicated than that, as it remains today. Ultimately Pilate would sentence him to death only on the charge of purporting to be a child of God, to which Jesus only replied, “You have said so.” But I digress...
On what we now know as Palm Sunday, Jesus had amassed quite the following among Jews, Gentiles and many others. You heal the sick and feed the hungry at a time of massive government corruption, and you tend to do that. No bail bondsman needed, Jesus didn't consider skipping court. Instead, he made a spectacle of it. In those days it would have been customary for royalty to ride into town on a horse. The prince of peace rode in on a donkey. In those days it was customary for the people to lay something on the ground as royalty approached, sort of like a red carpet today. Jesus's friends and followers chose to lay down palms, in a defiant act to the state. Palms symbolized rejoicing.
So, Jesus, fully aware he would be found guilty and soon sentenced to death, as his friend and mentor John the Baptist had been, took a stand. He mocked the power structure about to condemn him by rolling into town on an ass over the joyous symbolism of palms. He reminded the corrupt power structure that though they could take his life, they couldn't take his teachings of love, service and tolerance away from the people. Palm Sunday was the original Johnny Cash middle finger poster.
Of course, the church would co-opt that too. Now it's sort of like when you hear the Clash's Lost in Supermarket while at the supermarket. There's a little irony, and quite a bit of sadness for what has become of something once so very punk rock.
I think these origins are important to remember, especially on a Palm Sunday the day after hundreds of thousands of young people took to American streets to speak out against violence. Especially in a world on the brink of World War III because of a Zionist Jewish State and blind American allegiance to it. Most especially because of the way Christ's message of love, peace, acceptance and coexistence has been distorted into the opposite by the many churches blaspheming his name. So yeah, I hope you brought a palm home to Grandma and have a nice feast with the family today, but much more than that, I hope you find a creative way to stick it to the man today. That's WWJD. Jesus would stick it to the man and help the least fortunate he came across. In my humble opinion.