Sunday, March 20, 2016

Palm Sunday

Today is celebrated by the Christian Churches as Palm Sunday, a week before Easter - and five days before Good Friday.

Whether you believe in God or not, the events commemorated today are perhaps the ultimate historical illustration of the fickleness of mortal popularity.

Approximately one thousand, nine hundred and eighty seven years ago, Jesus rode into Jerusalem accompanied by cheering crowds who spread their coats on the street before him and greeted him with palm branches, which were a symbol of triumph and victory in contemporary Jewish tradition.

Less than a week later, crowds in the same city were shouting "Crucify him!" despite the fact that there is no evidence of him doing anything in the meantime to earn their enmity. The bible suggests that a jealous priesthood had whipped up the people to do this, but the fact remains that they did it - it is isn't as if Jesus had made any secret of what he taught before or after he entered Jerusalem.

I once read an American short story in which one of the characters compares the treatment of Jesus by the people of Jerusalem as being "like giving someone a ticker-tape parade, and then hanging them." And in the next sentence of the story someone commented that politics is still so perverse that they would not regard such a sequence of events as impossible.

There are lots of messages from Palm Sunday, but perhaps the one which has most resonance for me is not to set your hopes, or judge people, on worldly popularity. Hope to be judged by the wise on whether you did what was right.


Jim said...

As you know I am not religious, but did go though a catholic schooling.

So this story, I took as, Jesus came into Jerusalem and the people were so glad to see him they gave this this huge parade, basically the red carpet treatment. It was that very act that ensured his doom. Nothing Jesus did, more the fact the people liked it. His messages did not change, but what was clear to the current standing religious men was that his ideas were popular, and thus dangerous to them. Ideas are only that, they are only ideas, but if ideas begin to gain traction, they become a real problem to the establishment.

When it was conceived The Harrogate Agenda was deliberately intended to mimic the Chartist movement, the chartists ideas were just ideas, and the governments of the time could ignore them, until of course the ideas spread and little by little, inch by inch, there was an overwhelming force for change.

Palm Sunday led to the authorities to quickly muddy Jesus, kind of the ancient method of FUD or "project fear" if you will, in an act of self preservation. When you can see a problem is building and will very soon be out of your control then you act quickly to stop it, and that is what the authorities did.

-Well, that's pretty much how I have always taken the story of Palm Sunday anyhow.

Chris Whiteside said...

Yes, I see that take on the story and there is something in it.

Still interesting that in a city which had given Him such a rousing welcome a week before, the Priests, Levites and other Temple authorities could get a crowd's worth of people outside the Governor's residents to shout for Jesus to be crucified, and get all those who had strewn their coats before Him to join that cry or at least stay quiet or stay away.

Says something either about how much people feared the temple, I think, or about how powerful the temptation to follow the crowd can be.

Jim said...

It all depends on the people really, "huge crowds" are not always the same "huge crowds", so its pretty akin to a Manchester United football player walking into Manchester to a Hero's welcome, one week, then before you know it 100,000 Manchester City supporters are calling for him to be banned from the FA.

I don't think that the authorities in the time of Jesus had managed to "turn" the people who welcomed him so valiantly, i just think they managed to raise a crowd of "different" people is all.

Jim said...

^ as for staying away, you can easily control a crowd, and it was known then too, the roman colluseam is a testiment to that fact.

All you need to do is set up an entry system where by your most favoured are at the front, and leave those you dont want either in the cheap seats or outside for the main event.......

Chris Whiteside said...

You're probably right. But the Pharisees must have really done a number on supporters of Jesus to get such a turnaround that nobody who would have dared shout for him got within earshot of the Roman governor !