Blog & Pastor Letters

Humility, Freedom, and the Undercover Boss

04-10-2022Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

I love watching the Undercover Boss. The pain of the boss at the end of each episode makes me cry. He does not rely on hearsay, neither does he reply to office gossips. He undertakes the process of finding out the pain of every staff. He notes down the serious and the unserious staff. Each will be surprised with the revelation of this newbie they snub, disrespect, and call names. This newbie is the boss in the whole establishment. His mission is to go low to find out who is representing best the interests of his company. Not all bosses go undercover. Some sit in the Oval Office and ride on the Air Force One to any part of the world. To be presidential is to stay in touch with the affairs of the nation and work for the interests of America. When traveling to meet other leaders of the world, the president enjoys the joys of an advance team to ensure his safety. This is usual with most presidents of the world and it gives us joy to see our leaders representing our common interests.

While the Airforce One is a beautiful instrument of the office of the President in the United States, it comes with other responsibilities: The defense of ‘One Nation Under God’ and the protection of the interests of ‘we the people.’ But there is another person in history who never rode an exotic jet such as the Airforce One. He rode a donkey. The difference between a donkey and a jet is obvious. The donkey does not run on fuel as the jet, but it does solve the major desire of man to move from one point to another. The jet can go faster but the donkey is less expensive to maintain; just provide hay and water. Such was the case when Jesus planned to attend the Jewish Feast of Passover. He entered Jerusalem like an undercover boss. He told his apostles, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately on entering it, you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone should say to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ reply, ‘The Master has need of it and will send it back here at once.’” This indicates that Jesus did not appreciate an exotic life. He borrowed a donkey to ride into Jerusalem to save us the cost of showing off as Christians.

The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is the beginning of great events in his life. Also, the Feast of the Passover is a major feast in the lives of the people of Israel. Yahweh saved them from slavery into freedom after being in Egypt for over 400 years. The cost of freedom did not come cheap. But Yahweh delivered them from the pains of bondage in a land they labored hard to build and invested their energies. Does this remind us of their humiliation? Definitely it is better to be free and be a pauper than to be rich and in total bondage. Thus, the event of Passover signifies total freedom for Israel and for us believers in Jesus.

By climbing on a donkey, Jesus exhibited humility expected of the Messiah. This cannot be the only sign of the Messiah as he was expected to win battles for Israel based on the idea of the Marsiah (Messiah) in Judaism. The Messiah was expected to have both spiritual and military prowess. In this regard, Jesus failed to lead an army to overrun the enemies of Israel. However, he was knowledgeable in the history of his people and he knew the Torah excellently. He spoke like no other and quoted copiously to support his arguments. In the first reading, the Prophet Isaiah says, “The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ears that I may hear, and I have not rebelled, have not turned back.” Therefore the kind of ‘messiahship’ Jesus represented was not the political one as the Jews expected but a spiritual one for the redemption of man.

The indication of his spiritual mission is found in Mark 11:1-10 when the people sang, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!” By coming from the Davidic lineage, Jesus fulfilled another condition of the Messiah. Yahweh made a promise to David that he will be with his offspring forever and through his bloodline establish an eternal kingdom as found in 2 Samuel 7. This promise is fulfilled with the work of Jesus born of the Davidic dynasty and his association with the poorest of Yahweh.

By carrying palms in their hands and singing, the people recognized the messiahship in Jesus. He could have ridden on a horse as the powerful Romans did, but he preferred a donkey. Out of their freewill, they spread their cloaks on the floor for Jesus to pass by. He did exactly that and they waived palms unto him for finding the messiah toward the liberation of Jerusalem from foreign occupation. Just like the event of the Passover in Egypt, the people expected the messiah to lead them into a new beginning, and it would happen with no military response.

What does this celebration signify for the Christian today? The passion of the Lord, as Palm Sunday is also known, is a reminder to us about our freedom. We live a new life of freedom away from the pains of slavery. Like the people of Israel practicing Judaism today, we expect the messiah to free us from our bondage and domination. The difference between the Christians and the Jews in Judaism is in the concept of this freedom. While Christians are spread in many nations, the Jews living in Israel are struggling to keep their tiny stretch of land free from conflict. At the time of Jesus, the Romans were the major occupier, today, the enemies have multiplied. Israel is encircled by hostile neighbors. Christians, therefore, need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem every day and the desire of Jewish people to live in freedom from political conflict like any other persons on the face of the earth.

We believe that Yahweh’s promise to Israel will never go in vain. He will free his people from hostile nations. He did it during the exodus centuries ago. He will do it again. Jesus is ‘The First Undercover Boss’ in Jerusalem. He feels the pains of every person under oppression. For Christians, our goal of eternal life begins from Jerusalem by the humility of Jesus riding on a donkey and not inside of Air Force One. After all, Ralph Waldo Emmerson said, “A great man is always willing to be little.” Do you love watching the Undercover Boss? Keep praying!