“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
“Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest!”
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Old Testament wars were wars of conquest and destruction. When God told Israel to go to war with someone they were supposed to annihilate them. They were to take no plunder, take no prisoners, wipe out everything…scorched earth.
But, the New Testament is a war of insurgency. It’s war to win hearts and minds. It’s a rescue mission behind enemy lines.
When Jesus came to Israel they had been looking for a warrior -king in the model of David. And, who can blame them? Israel had been in some form of captivity, exile or oppression for most of their history. The last thing they were looking for was somebody who would free them internally. The very foundation of Hebrew culture was anchored in laws that were based on external circumstances. Jesus came so that people could be free in spite of those circumstances…or, even, in those circumstances.
The Jews tried to turn Jesus into that warrior-king. They wanted to be freed as a nation, not as individuals. They wanted someone astride a great white horse who would wipe out their enemies, trample their oppressors, exact some revenge and make them a mighty nation. To this end they gave Him a parade. They tried to dress Him up as a king thus disillusioning themselves into believing that He was on a horse. In a warped reversal of “The King with No Clothes” the people tried to pretend that the King was arrayed in splendor, but Jesus knew what the child in the fable knew, that He was naked.
Jesus came as one man healing one person at a time, comforting one person at a time, saving one life to eternity at a time. He was an insurgent behind enemy lines. The nation of Israel wanted to be delivered en masse from all of their enemies in one fell swoop. Jesus came to save them from themselves. They wanted to be a glorious people in spite of their sin; Jesus came to deliver them from their sin. Are we Christians, God’s modern daychosen people any different?
We have spent the last few decades pleading with God to vindicate us, to prove that we are right; to lay low our enemies and bring them in droves to fill church pews so that we can revel in the victory of winning some cultural war. In contrast, we have too often retreated to a “circle the wagons” mentality. We lock ourselves inside our church walls in the vein hope that we can whip congregations into a frenzy that will unleash our “inner warrior” hoping to bring vindication for ourselves. On his album, The Soul Cages, the second hand prophet Sting makes a severe, yet completely accurate, observation of why our strategies have been so ineffective. “Men go crazy in congregations, but they only get better one by one.”
And so, we have lost the culture war. Why?
…to be continued.