Both our morning worship and our youth group Bible study this past Sunday focused on the choice offered to us by the Palm Sunday story. What is the choice?
Borg and Crossan, in their recent text The Last Week, lay out the choice as they describe an interesting historical picture of that first Palm Sunday. On one side of Jerusalem you have Jesus, a humble peasant rabbi, entering on the back of a donkey, flanked by the poor who lay branches and clothing at his feet. On the other side of town, you may likely experience the entrance of Pontius Pilate, entering Jerusalem to help keep the peace during the volatile Passover observance. Pilate would have entered riding on a decorated chariot or atop a powerful warrior steed. He would have been flanked by Roman soldiers, carrying their weapons and the flag of the empire. And if the peasants were throwing anything at his feet, it would have been their own weapons as a sign of their total submission to the Roman Empire.
The question before us then: Which procession would you choose to be part of -- the procession of the peasants following the humble rabbi, or the procession that represents all the power, influence, and benefits of the Empire? This is the choice we should put before our youth: Which empire do you choose? The Empire of the World (and it's promise of success, power, $$$) or the Empire of God (and it's way of humility, sacrifice, challenge, submission). And yes, I do think it's an either-or choice. Not a both-and.