Jesus enters Jerusalem, by Giotto (click for source)
Somehow, every Lent I’m drawn into reflection on Palm Sunday. It’s captured my imagination for years. The Gospel writers cite a prophetic song in Zechariah when they tell the story, and I only recently reflected on this strange bit about how the messiah disarms his own people:
See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.
Of course, there’s also a piece later in the same chapter about the redeemed people will “destroy and overcome with slingstones.”, so, it’s a tangle. Still, if on Palm Sunday the gospel writers believed that this particular song was eschatologically fulfilled by Jesus, I have no reason to think that this bit of the song was to be excluded. Much the same as Peter does in Acts 2 when he uses Joel 2, we have good reason to believe that the apostles saw Jesus as inaugurating “the last days”. The in-breaking of the kingdom has begun and the Messiah is proclaiming peace to any who will listen, and his disciples are first in line. Are we holding on to our chariots, warhorses and battle bows?Naturally, this is a loaded topic to hint at given our political climate, and especially on the day of “March for Our Lives”. I’m not saying a single thing about laws that should or shouldn’t be put into action, that would take a separate post. I am saying to those of us who are disciples of Jesus: are you ready to follow this king who will disarm you?It’s a good question to ask today before Good Friday, because if we’re clutching our bows, we’re probably not ready to take up our cross.