Mediations: Subversive Worship

This morning, churches around the globe celebrated Palm Sunday, which commemorates Jesus' purposeful entrance into Jerusalem in the manner of a peaceful king. Prior to this point in his career, Jesus avoided the adoration of the masses. He healed a man and ordered him to keep it a secret. Jesus deliberately drove away potential followers by cryptically teaching that they would have to "eat his flesh and drink his blood."

Jesus was aware of the messianic expectations that were being placed on him. Jesus launched the Passion Week by fueling those expectations. We're only given a few details of the processional that Jesus organized. It's the crowd's reaction-- the palm waving and the Hosannas-- that cue us to the fact that the crowd understood Jesus' to be entering Jerusalem as it's rightful ruler.

This morning I discussed this event this a group of college students. They reminded me that the crowd's worship was an act of subversion. The crowds that were normally in the temple were now worshiping on the side of the road. The priests watched their power base erode in front of their eyes. The Romans outpost noticed the worshipers rally around a would-be challenger to Caesar.

I wonder if the only reason that the temple guard or the Centurions didn't come out to stop Jesus' demonstration was the combination of the size of the crowd and the element of surprise.

The point, I'm trying to make is this: the peoples' worship was subversive. They risked something to honor Jesus. Sure, their worship was misguided. Jesus didn't come to Jerusalem to supplant the Romans. But there was still an element of personal cost to throw their lot in behind Jesus. Each person in the crowd understood that by participating in Jesus' coronation that they were helping to make "the kingdom come."

The risky worship of the crowd suggests how we should worship Jesus this Easter. Two thousand years later we are at risk to view Jesus as an ideology or a symbol. The truth is, that we continue to worship a very real king. Our worship then must be express by our praises and by our living out his heavenly values. The crowd reminds us that if our worship is not culturally subversive it's probably not mature.

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