Jesus thinks so. He demonstrates this vividly as he enters Jerusalem for the last time before his death. Anticipating the crowds will want to make him King – Jesus plans a big entrance, or should I say small entrance. Some would call what Jesus did street theatre, others might just call it ridiculous. They would both be right. He instructs his disciples to run ahead and retrieve a young Donkey that has never been ridden, this is what will carry him into town. I have seen paintings as a child of Jesus riding a donkey on Palm sunday and assumed they had the perspective wrong. The image of this grown man on a baby donkey is silly-even ridiculous. But this donkey story was absurd before Jesus sat on it. I am sure the disciples gave themselves a face palm as they watched. I imagine Jesus thinking…’if you want me as a king then this is the kind of king I will be’. But this isn’t the first nor the last time God does something ridiculous. When you think about it, alot of what Jesus does and says is absurd. Forgiveness, grace, enemy love, faith – these are ridiculous if you really think about it.
As he rides into the city, the crowds throw down their coats, and branches from the fields shouting ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of God, save us-rescue us!’ They are worshipping him, but not because he is riding a mule -instead his transportation reveals his heart. He is worshipped because he is a God who would ride a Mule. Jesus says nothing as he rides, but the posture of the whole experience says it all. What should have made him the laughing stock, clarifies what kind of God he is. It makes me wonder if faith in a God like this desires to create the same attitude in me.
God rides into all of our lives on a Mule. He shows up in the ridiculous places. In the most humbling of circumstances he desires to appear. Sometimes he shows up to let us know God is King and is still with us, some times to remind us of what kind of God King he is. This I know: God reveals amazing things in the most absurd ways. When confronted with something that should destroy me, God desires to use it to save me. This is called redemption. We see this pattern over and over again. The cross looked like defeat, but it instead declared victory over death and hate and darkness-because his love is that big.
I am intrigued once again to see that this God that looks like Jesus is all about participation. His gospel is not only accessible but requires participation. In this account he sends the disciples on ahead to get his ride, when he could have just as easily done it himself. It reminds me that God wants us to participate in this redemption story. There are a lot of characters in these Gospel accounts, and I think I have played them all. I have helped God make an entrance in to many lives sometimes I have gotten the donkey sometimes I have been the donkey. Regardless this is a beautiful reminder that God takes the ridiculous and rides it into town. God chose the drops outs, the prostiutes and tax collectors and he rides them into a better world proclaiming God’s love and redemption.
Face Palm Sunday reminds me that in the middle of my crazy, God is already their showing up. And how he makes his appearance matters. I am reminded that how he appears is often as significant as what he does once he arrives. Maybe you don’t see him. Because you want him to ride into your bankruptcy with sword drawn and cash in hand, or into your relationship struggles with magic potions. Maybe we are frustrated because we are looking for a King that rides a stallion, and not a king that rides an ass. It sounds absurd and it is – all of it is, and I am glad too, because sometimes I am that Ass.