A MINISTER’S MUSINGS………………………………………………ON PARADES
What is it about a parade that seems to draw people like a magnet? The colour, the spectacle, the marching bands, the prancing horses, the brilliant floats. I am, of course, speaking about the Stampede Parade which, by the way, is only three months away. The marching bands are practicing vigorously even as I write!
This weekend, as we commence our journey into Holy Week, we are about to witness another parade, the Palm Parade. It won’t be quite the spectacle that the Stampede Parade is every year. It will be much more modest—a few donkeys, some ragged cloaks thrown on the ground, palm branches waving everywhere. But like the Stampede Parade, there will be shouting crowds and lots of noise.
Jesus is entering Jerusalem for the final week of his life. And it begins with a parade. Hundreds of people shouting, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” There is excitement in the air. Here is the man they have been hearing so much about. A man proclaiming the “good news” of God’s love for his people. The itinerant preacher who heals the sick, proclaims justice for the downtrodden and challenges the authorities. As part of his “victory” march, the people throw cloaks on the ground and wave palm branches.
And therein lies the “perfect storm” that will claim the life of Jesus. Palm branches are a sign of military victory in the ancient world. Spontaneous parades with people shouting out words of adoration for a conquering hero is a slap in the face of the power of Rome and it also undermines the religious authorities in Jerusalem. That victory march is being watched by dark forces in the crowd who are hostile toward Jesus and afraid of the large numbers of people who are being drawn to him and the message he delivers.
The parade seals Jesus’ death warrant. It is an overt threat to those in power in his society. Beyond the parade, Jesus’ march toward death has begun.