Weekly Moravian Message, April 13, 2014
Palm Sunday, April 13, 2014
“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” But we live in cultures that place value on appearances. We want leaders who project an image of strength, sophistication, composure, and decisiveness. We don’t want someone who looks like a pushover. We have stylists that dress folks in appropriately colored “power ties.”
We make things look the way we want people to believe they are. Sometimes when things look different from how we expect them to look, they challenge our beliefs: a teacher with body piercings and tattoos, an overweight doctor, a pope who refuses to live in the apostolic palace.
Jerusalem was “in turmoil” (Matthew 21:10) when Jesus rode into town on a donkey, even though the prophet had told them it would look like that. This could not possibly be the One these faithful Jews had been waiting for so long. This didn’t look like a leader that would keep them safe and secure their futures. And yet the crowd was shouting “Hosanna!” in recognition of him as the One they were expecting.
Nothing has ever looked right about Jesus. Not the lavish gifts the magi bestowed upon a child born into an impoverished family. Not the baptism in the backwater creek by that wild-looking guy. Not the dinners he ate at the tables of the wrong people. Not the conversing he did with questionable women. Not the touching and the healing and the raising of the dead. Nothing about him looked or seemed right for a leader.
He challenged their expectations of what the Messiah would be like on every human level. He continues to challenge us today. Nonviolent, unmaterialistic, countercultural Jesus, who healed people on the Sabbath and crossed social barriers and touched contagious people and hung out with seedy types.
If he isn’t challenging you, then are you perhaps still expecting someone else?
Staci Marrese-Wheeler, pastor, Lakeview Moravian Church, Madison, Wisconsin