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Peace Rides a Donkey

Peace Rides a Donkey

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Published by David Driedger

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Published by: David Driedger on Jun 12, 2007
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/01/2013

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1
 Palm Sunday
Luke 28:44People usually speak of Lent as the
 journey
towards Easter. The Gospel readings for thisLent season have come from Luke and Luke in particular is interested in Jesus’s journey.Already in Luke 9:51 we read,
 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for  Jerusalem.
Starting from the Galilee Jesus walked somewhere between 50 and 100 miles to reachJerusalem. Along the way Jesus has told stories and performed signs. Some havelistened and followed, some ignored him and others rejected him. Reaching the Mount of Olives and our passage for this morning Jesus is now only a couple of miles outside of Jerusalem.I titled this sermon
 Peace Rides a Donkey
because for the life of me I could notshake the image of Jesus entering the city on a donkey. And for some reason my perspective was always seeing him from behind as he was riding away. As I looked atJesus all I saw was the uneven and awkward shifting of the donkey’s hind legs causingJesus’s body to bob up and down slightly with him having to catch his balance the oddtime. Needless to say it was not a graceful image.For the sake of historical accuracy I went to YouTube. YouTube is a website where people can upload their personal video clip. I typed “donkey riding” into the searchengine and sure enough there were several video clips of people riding donkeys. The ridedid appear to be somewhat smoother than I imagined but even today as I image it was2000 years ago none of the clips carried any sense of grace or dignity.I am not sure I care too much for this image. I prefer the image next to my desk. It is areprint of one of the oldest icons in which Jesus is referred to as
 Pantocrator 
which inGreek means
 Ruler of All 
. In this image Jesus is not yet given a crown and scepter as heis in latter depictions of Christ as King. In this image Jesus is patient and stoic, groomedand cleaned, waiting for you to be drawn into his presence. He invites you to sit at hisfeet and receive his blessing. I just need to look over my shoulder and there he is with New Testament in one arm and his other hand forming the theological equivalent of his
 
2gang affiliation. Icons can be help remind us of the abiding presence of Christ.However, icons can also lure us into a notion of Jesus that is fixed and permanent. Thisis not this morning’s image.This morning Jesus has been on the move and if I look over my shoulder there is a goodchance he will not be there. Perhaps if I look for him all I can catch now is the back endof his . . . donkey.Where is the welcoming crowd in this image? It greets him outside of Jerusalem. Theimage of Jesus riding on a donkey is not lost on them. It is a kingly gesture at least,thought perhaps not “regal” in a traditional sense. It conjures up in their minds thecoronation of Solomon who was also set upon a mule a paraded through town. And perhaps more familiarly it evokes the imagery of Zechariah who prophesied saying,
9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!See, your king comes to you,righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey,on a colt, the foal of a donkey.10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraimand the war-horses from Jerusalem,and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to seaand from the River to the ends of the earth.
But what did they understand this to mean? What sort of army what sort of force wouldestablish this sort of peace? Surely they, like Jesus, had also read the next chapter inZechariah which says that,
3 The LORD Almighty will care for his flock, the house of Judah,and make them like a proud horse in battle.4 From Judah will come the cornerstone, from him the tent peg, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler.
 
3
5 Together they will be like mighty mentrampling the muddy streets in battle. Because the LORD is with them,they will fight and overthrow the horsemen
.Indeed we find out later that when the crowd comes to arrest Jesus one of Jesus’sfollowers strikes out with his sword, with the sword Jesus allowed him to carry. The only peace they had known came by the edge of a sword. Solomon whose name comes fromthe Hebrew word for peace established his kingdom from the bloodshed of his father David. What else could they expect?Using force to create peace is both ancient and modern approach to life. What we seearound is disorder and we are called to bring order to it. This was what the sheriff did inthe wild west. Clint Eastwood would stride into town and eventually confront the badguys who are taking advantage of the good townspeople. His justice was shift being ableto gun down four men before they were even able to reach for their holster.This is not much different than the ancient creation stories that would have circulated inalongside the Genesis account in the Ancient Near East. In these stories the gods arealready in conflict with each other even before humans are created. In the creation storycalled
 Enuma Elish
words like “terror,” “confusion” and “evil” are peppered throughoutthe opening lines. The creation of the world is actually the result of the violent conflict between two gods named Marduk and Tiamat.It says that they,
  strove in single combat, locked in battle.
And then when Tiamat opened her mouth
 Marduk drove in the Evil Wind . . . As the terrible winds filled her belly,. . .
 
 He released the arrow,[and] it tore her belly, It cut through her insides, splitting the heart. Having thus subdued her, he extinguished her life. He cast down her carcass to stand upon it.
(IV, 93-104)
Then Marduk stomped on the legs of Tiamat,With his unsparing mace he crushed her skull.When the arteries of her blood he had severed,On seeing this, the gods were joyful and jubilant,They brought gifts of homage to him.

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