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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Palm Sunday

I thought it would be fun to do some posts on Holy Week based on the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel for this year. I did this a couple of years ago when the book The Last Week: A Day by Day Account of Jesus' Last Week in Jerusalem by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan was published. I will link to those posts as well.

The twist this year is to find some scenes from movies as commentary. I will comment on them as well.

Today is Palm Sunday.

The text is Mark 11:1-12

Here is my post from last time, A Tale of Two Parades




I guess you could call this rock opera a classic by now. This song has been used to introduce a number of children's parades on Palm Sunday. I used it this morning in fact.

This is about the only time Jesus smiles in Jesus Christ Superstar. Don't you love the head gear of the chief priests?

This song captures the conflict between Jesus and the religious authorities. No colt though, which is the important symbol in the story. In the text, Jesus is using a dramatic spectacle. He lampooning the military parade in which the leaders will be riding horses prepared for riot control.

Jesus rides a colt. There is no need for riot control in the 'kingdom' he envisions. The children are the little ones for whom Jesus speaks and acts.

The film clip freezes on the line, "Won't you die for me?" capturing the self-doubt of Jesus as if he is hearing it here for the first time. "I'm not sure I signed up for this," he seems to be saying.

The film constantly asks the question in one form or another. Why did Jesus have to die? What will it possibly do? The film doesn't answer that question.

Theology has been stuck on that question, assuming Jesus had a self-awareness of his mission. For the author of Mark, Jesus functions as a character through which Mark tells a larger story, the way of the cross. For Mark, Jesus doesn't die for us, and certainly not in place of us, but shows us the way of the cross.

It is a way of standing with the executed, of resisting rather than acquiescing, (and anticipating the angel's words to the women after the resurrection), the way of "returning to Galilee" to continue the way of resistance (ie. parades) with the assurance that the Executed God goes before us.


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