Matthew 21:8-9

Record crowds lined the streets ahead and behind, tossing hats and garlands along the road, shouting, "Make America great again! Hail the new George Washington!"  
As he entered Washington, the whole city fomented with protest, wanting to know who he was. "Jesus, from Nowheresville," the crowds said. "He's the Prophet."

The crowds wanted a kind of salvation Jesus was not able, or even interested in giving them. They wanted overthrow of the Roman deep state. They wanted the savior-king of Zechariah 9, to wipe out those they hated. They wanted a deliverer who would shoulder the responsibility for fixing all their discontents and grievances.

Jesus, riding on the hood of his Dodge Dart, is lampooning everything the crowds are bellowing for, but they are too hopped up on their nationalistic expectations to get the joke. Instead, they have made Jesus into yet another idol.

It's a pattern that has been repeated time and again ever since. It happens whenever Jesus is held up as a symbol of us against them, whenever there is talk of establishing (or re-establishing) a Christian nation, whenever religion is wielded as a sword to take vengeance on those with whom we disagree, or to justify the exclusion or marginalization of others – even when those others have also done awful things to us.

Later that week, when Jesus turns out not to be the idol they hoped for, the crowds reveal just how thirsty for blood they are, taking it out on the one who let them down.

Let modern demagogues beware!

(Photo by Alex Bracken on Unsplash)