It’s early morning and it also happens to be Palm Sunday. We have all been told how this was the day of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey while hundreds of people lined the streets with branches of palms. Last night as I lay in bed wide awake I began to think about this and I wonder whose triumph was this anyway? Let’s face it, Jesus kind of knew that this was not one of your typical triumphal entries, especially in terms of a Roman triumph. In the days of the Republic, generals would be accorded a triumph by the Senate and not every successful general got one. The members of the Senate in those days knew the dangers of allowing a general into the city of Rome with his legion of battle hardened war veterans. A triumph was not only a recognition of a generals great successes on the field of battle its was also a political statement. We are not that far from our own version of the triumph, in January one of those running for President will have their own triumph, we call it the inauguration. The successful candidate will parade through the Capitol, with hundreds lining the streets, some may even be cheering, an affirmation of our Republics continuance. Yet, whose triumph will it be? With such a divided electorate, with the heated rhetoric, the name calling, the less than truthful Facebook postings can we really call this a triumph?
Jesus entered Jerusalem, not with the intention of vanquishing the political and religious establishment, he came to show the power of God in the frailness of his humanity. As a general rode in his chariot during those grand military spectacles, there was always a person who sat behind him whispering in his ear that he was but human. This triumph was temporary, that even the mighty have and will fall, usually through their own hubris. Jesus needed no such voice, he knew who he was and that the powers of the world would not allow him to enter that city without exacting its pound of flesh.
In a short while I will gather the congregation, we will say our Hosanna’s, wave our branches of palms as we process into the church so far removed from that first Palm Sunday. Even now I wonder, whose triumph are we celebrating for soon after we enter the church we begin the Passion, the all too human story of love, betrayal, and death. Our lives are bound up in this story whether we are religious or not and it is through this story we learn about our relationships, the good, the not so good and the difficult ones.