B.Y.O.B. (1,119)

April 17th, 2011

It is a terrific story. It would make an awesome movie.

Palm Sunday—a well-needed diversion from our normal, traditional, calm Sundays. It has all the ingredients of great film-making: animal, vegetable, mineral—and also heroes, villains and a great plot twist at the end.

Now, the animal is fairly obvious. “The foal of an ass.” The words alone have a certain amount of crowd appeal. What we’re talking about here is freshly-birthed donkey. No one has ever sat upon this creature. No kidding—considering it is still sucking on its mama’s teat. It is small, frail, just barely achieving its earth-legs, and Jesus plans to perch himself on top of this creature and ride into Jerusalem, tongue-in-cheek, chuckling to himself all the way, his feet nearly scraping the ground as he bounces into town. It is a Jerusalem equivalent of a clown car. And I imagine the young birthling had a few complaints over being ridden at this point, so the colt added its own noises to the surrounding praise. Kind of a “hee-haw-sanna.”

Which leads us to the heroes—the praisers—common people, yet uncommon in the sense that they are a mixture of men, women and children, which in the culture of Palestine at the time was nearly a forbidden recipe. They stripped their clothes and laid them on the ground. Quite bold, don’t you think? Of course, for the sake of our film, we will keep it PG—similar to a Springfield, Missouri, community theater adaptation of the Broadway show, Hair.

These heroes are singing. They are screaming. They have been released from their inhibitions and fears of public ridicule by being in the company of others who have adopted the same wild abandonment.

Which takes us to vegetable. Our heroes decide to pull palm branches off the trees to wave, to further exemplify their enthusiasm. Don’t you think this is terrific to aid us in advertising our feature? Branches. Because we can appeal to the environmentalists by saying that “the disciples have gone green,” while still reaching those who fear such causes but will be delighted that the zealous followers took the time to defoliate a rain forest. It’s perfect.

But because branches are brought out to punctuate the renegade quality of the event, so enter our villains. People of praise are always attacked by people of tradition—Pharisees—funny people with funny hats with funny rules who just don’t like funny. They scream at Jesus to tell the people to be quiet. After all, that’s the way you can tell you’ve gotten old. Everything you like has to be turned up because you’re hard of hearing, and everything you don’t like needs to be turned down because it’s hard to hear. Yes, the villains in our story are those people who think they’re in charge, who believe they have encompassed God in a box called The Temple, and therefore are experts on all matters of the Divine.

Which opens the door—or the trail, if you will—to mineral. Because when our villains asked Jesus to silence the crowd, he says they wouldn’t dare, or “the very rocks would cry out.” Is there anything better than following a leader like Jesus who is both poignant and poetic? Rocks crying out. Cool.

Of course, it was also a reminder to them that just short days before he had warned them that God could take rocks and make “children of Abraham.” In other words, they were not nearly as important as they thought they were. Another nice thing about the introduction of the rocks is that if we decided to do a G-rated cartoon version of our movie, we could have four animated stones roll across the stage, singing “Sympathy for the Savior.” But I digress.

But finally we have our plot twist. Because no one marching, criticizing, groaning under the pressure of being ridden or lying on the ground in a sedimentary position, ready to praise at a moment’s notice, was in fact prepared for the next thing that happened.

The heroes thought they were going in to crown a Messiah—the King of the Jews. The villains were afraid there was going to be an uprising against the Romans, which would take away their security. But Jesus doesn’t do either thing. He marches into town, slides off of his beast that he had burdened, takes a whip of cords he had already prepared, and races through the temple of the Jews, turning over tables and whipping the money changers out of the sanctuary.

This is supposed to be a house of prayer, and you turned it into a way to rip people off.

There’s your plot twist. A triumphal entry suddenly turned into a collective gasp. What was he doing? Didn’t he know that the Romans were the enemy? Why was he attacking the Jewish system? Why was he challenging the people who were occupied and oppressed?

An amazing plot twist, where our movie would end with the audience leaving the theater with as many questions as answers. What a great unfolding of events!

And I would entitle it: B.Y.O.B.—Bring Your Own Branches.

Because Jesus is comin’ to town. You can count on that.

Animal, vegetable, mineral, heroes, villains—or are you ready for the plot twist? Casting is available. Just decide who you are in the story.

Published in: on April 17, 2011 at 12:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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