The Radical Way of Jesus
Did you know that on the first Palm Sunday, two processions came into Jerusalem? From the east, Jesus rode a donkey down the Mount of Olives, cheered on by an excited crowd waving palm branches. From the west, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, entered Jerusalem, leading heavily armed foot soldiers and mounted cavalry. Imagine this scene for a moment.
The two processions are symbols for two radically different ways we can live our lives today. On the one hand is Pilate, whose way of life is defined by violence, force, and superiority. On the other hand is Jesus, whose way of life is one of non-violence, gentleness, and vulnerable love. One of the most critical decisions we make is to choose between these two ways of living. We face the choice every day, in almost every area of our lives and our relationships. Think about the contrast. There are
> two ways to have a conversation, the way of Pilate or the way of Jesus;
> two ways to resolve conflict, the way of Pilate or the way of Jesus;
> two ways to relate to our families, the way of Pilate or the way of Jesus;
> two ways to lead people, the way of Pilate or the way of Jesus;
> two ways to treat people you don’t like, the way of Pilate or the way of Jesus;
> two ways to break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, the way of Pilate or the way of Jesus;
> two ways to drive your car, the way of Pilate or the way of Jesus.
I must be honest. Choosing the way of Jesus isn’t easy. His way is radically different from the way our culture usually operates. Each day we are surrounded by loud voices and powerful images that urge us to live Pilate’s way. We are encouraged to get our own way, to be in control, to show other people who is in charge. Tragically, those who follow Christ hardly notice that society’s way of living is at odds with the way Jesus calls us to follow.
How sad it is when Christians betray the gospel by going along with the way of Pilate. We say that we believe in Jesus, but we do not follow him. Perhaps we can understand why people look at Christians and see no reason to believe in Christ. Our lives are not radically different from the lives of those who do not confess Christ.
The time has come for the emergence of a new generation of radical Christ-followers, young people who are seeking each day to live the Jesus way, the way of non-violence, gentleness, and vulnerable love. Are you willing to become a part of the Jesus revolution? Make no mistake: Following Jesus requires courage. But, as we step into the procession, we hear the good news: The one who rode into Jerusalem from the east will step out of the gospels and into our lives as a living, active, empowering presence.
Think about what following Jesus means in your everyday life. What’s different about you because you are a Christian? How do non-violence, gentleness, and vulnerable love play out in your relationships at school? at home? in your community? Begin to think twice before you act. Are you following the way of Jesus?
>> To learn more about the two processions and about the ways Pontius Pilate and Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday, check out the book The Last Week by Marcus Borg.
—from devozine (March/April 2012). Copyright © 2012 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved.