There are many ways to explore Easter week (known as Holy Week). One thought to consider is the primary actions of Jesus, Pilate, and God.
The week kicks off with the satirical actions of Jesus in his "triumphal entry" known as Palm Sunday.
When it was time for the festival of Passover, there would have been a great pilgrimage to Jerusalem. There you would see Jewish people from all over the Roman empire coming together to remember the story of how they were enslaved by the Egyptians and freed by God through Moses.
With such a great number of people coming to recall how they were once enslaved but became free, you can imagine that someone would have said, “Hey! We are still enslaved by Rome and right now we outnumber them here in the Holy city! Let’s liberate our people like Moses and wipe out Rome!”
These thoughts might have been why every Passover it was the custom for the Roman ruler of the area to create a militaristic triumphal entry to Jerusalem. This huge procession was called a Roman triumph.
There seems to be a standard order to the triumph parade:
- The captive leaders, allies, and soldiers (and sometimes their families) usually walking in chains;
Captured weapons, armor, gold, silver, and exotic treasures were carted behind them,
Rome's senators and magistrates walking in
The general's bodyguards in their red war-robes,
The general in his four-horse chariot
The general's unarmed soldiers followed
Two flawless white oxen were led for the sacrifice to Jupiter, would have been located somewhere in the procession
All of this was to remind everyone that Rome was bringing peace to the world - by killing those who resisted.
So when Jesus comes in donkey, you have Jesus making a highly visible bit of satire. Jesus rides in on a female nursing donkey with her little colt walking alongside her to bring Peace. Jesus is using satire to make a point: peace cannot come by way of Rome - Peace by way of the sword is peace in name only.
This bit of political satire was not lost on the crowd who shouted the very same things the Roman crowds would have shouted when the Roman armies came into the city: "Savior! King! Hosanna!" And rather than using flowers and incense to bring in the leader, the Jewish people there used palms and cloaks to pave the way for this satirical demonstration. Think of it something like the original flash-mob - this was theatrics in order to make a point.
Needless to say, the satirical drama made its way to the powers that be: Pilate. The next post explores the mocking actions of Pilate as a direct response to the satirical Jesus.