Interestingly, an international news report from Jerusalem this week can help us better appreciate Jesus’ and early Christians’ sense of humor, their point of view and their hope-laden message.
Earlier this week the President of the United States arrived in Israel for a state visit. He came on board of a special presidential plane (Air Force One) and his special presidential limousine was flown onboard another plane to carry him from one function to another. But the car broke down before the President arrived. Mechanics had hard time putting the car on a flatbed tow-truck because all the armor and classified gadgetry made it so heavy. Allegedly the Secret Service calls this vehicle “The Beast”. And it is a real beast indeed as officially it makes just 9 miles to the gallon, and don’t we all know how it is with these official numbers?! Thankfully, they keep several such “beasts” in the White House stables, because before that day was over, another identical limo was flown in. The President could ride into Jerusalem in another thirsty Cadillac Behemoth.
Please, understand me well, I do not question the need for the security and privacy of any president, least of all the American. This was certainly a small incident in the president’s travel, but because it happened at this particular time of the year and at the entry into Jerusalem, the poignant difference between The Beast and a she-donkey can hardly go unnoticed. And please understand me well again, I do not think that this has anything to do with the president as a person, and everything to do with the timeless imperial institutions and structures (those societal realities which apostolic authors called ἀρχαὶ καὶ ἐξουσίαι “principalities and powers”).
The timing of this presidential vehicle hiccup was just a coincidence, but I am convinced that the story of Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem was deliberately modeled on similar ancient ceremonies of pomp and circumstance. The entire story is built around the contrast between the official diplomatic protocols of the earthly empires and the spontaneous joyful welcome to the arriving kingdom of God.
Days before “The Beast” broke down I called my Sunday meditation “Carbon-Neutral Visit” not knowing how funny and timely it would get (Church staff and some friends can confirm this.) Come this Sunday to celebrate coming of the spontaneous, gentle, hope-filled, different, and clearly alternative world of God.
|Andrei Rublev (1405) - He Baiophoros|