Palm Sunday, 19 March 2016, Sparkford
Not long ago, on the busy concourse of Victoria Railway Station, London, a man walked into the middle of the teeming crowd, pulled out a klaxon which he held high and blew, turning heads everywhere around the station. Then, holding his arms out high and wide he shouted at the top of his voice, “We are Wales!” He was wearing a Welsh Rugby Union replica jersey.
And in that moment, the crowd heard female voices begin singing; out of the crowd, half-a-dozen women, dressed just like all the other commuters and travellers, joined the man in the centre of the concourse, removed their outdoor coats and jackets to reveal that they, too, were wearing Welsh Rugby jerseys, and broke into a rendition of the Welsh National Anthem:
“Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri…”
As the singing went on an audience began to form; and as it did, out from behind the audience from all directions, others came to join the Welsh choir - men, women, all ages and sizes, sopranos, altos, baritones, tenors, basses, all displaying their red Wales jerseys, altogether making a great show of themselves to get across their message - their passion for their national team.
As the anthem came to a close, the man who had started it all stepped forward again, shouted: “Come on Wales!”, people all around the station cheered and applauded, and in an instant he and all the makeshift choristers put their coats back on, went off in every direction, the audience dispersed, and station life returned to normal. 
That, my friends, is a flash mob.A flash mob is ‘a group of people who organise on the Internet and then quickly assemble in a public place, do something bizarre, and disperse.’  And in this social media age they are everywhere, whether playful flash mobs or ones purposefully protesting a cause, people get to know about them because their antics get filmed and posted online - which is how I came to see the Welsh flash mob at Victoria Station, first posted on Twitter with the hashtag #TheWelshAreComing.
Now flash mobs have the appearance of being spontaneous - and to some extent they are - but they always have someone at the centre organising them: conceiving the idea, setting things in motion, spreading the word which will bring people together in a common purpose.
I know that I’ve suggested this to some of you before, but I like the idea so much that I want to suggest to you again this morning: that Jesus on the donkey and the crowd who met him at the gate of Jerusalem waving palms was a flash mob. His entry into Jerusalem, was carefully planned by Jesus, who fixed it for word to get around that he, Jesus - regarded as a rebel, seen as a leader of a quiet revolution - would that day be riding into Jerusalem by a back gate on a donkey, posing ridiculously as a mock king. Because Jesus and everyone else knew that on the very same day, and perhaps at the very same time, the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate would be riding into Jerusalem by the main gate, in all the pomp and ceremony of his exalted position, to keep order in the city during the Passover festival.
I love the idea that Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was a carefully orchestrated one-off event - a flash mob, if you like; a deliberate provocation towards the Roman imperial power with all its military hardware designed to keep the Jewish people compliant, and the Roman imperial theology which upheld the emperor as not simply the ruler of Rome, but as the Son of God. I like to think that Jesus adopted the donkey-king persona to mock the emperor’s pretensions and to playfully assert his own status as God’s Son, by entering the holy city by the back door in that ridiculous but evocative peasant procession.
You see, throughout his life it was Jesus’s passion to promote what he called ‘the kingdom of God’, an alternative vision of human life in sharp contrast to the way of the kingdoms of the world.
‘This contrast - between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Caesar - is central [...] to the story of Jesus and early Christianity.’ … And ‘the two processions [into Jerusalem that day embodied] the central conflict of the week that led to Jesus’ crucifixion’. 
That confrontation unfolded day by day as Jesus let his passions drive his actions through that week.
On the Monday Jesus shut down trading in the temple to protest against the way the temple authorities made money there at the expense of the poor people of the land - driven by his passion that all people should enjoy free access to their God, unhindered by wealth or status or condition. 
On the Tuesday his conflict with the temple authorities deepened as Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple and the coming of the Son of Man - driven by his passionate belief in the ultimate triumph of God’s kingdom of righteousness and peace, over the corrupt structures of the world. 
On the Wednesday, at a meal in the house of a leading Pharisee, Jesus received a poor woman who, it is likely, had spent her lifetime savings on an expensive ointment to anoint him with - driven by his passion to affirm the poor in the presence of the privileged, despite the self-serving protests of Judas. 
On the Thursday Jesus again went ahead of his disciples to make another set of secretive arrangements - this time for a Passover meal in an upstairs room - driven by his passion to unite his friends and followers in a celebratory meal they would never forget.
Though that evening ended with betrayal, the spiritual and emotional torment of Gethsemane and the arrest and trial of Jesus by the high priestly authorities and the Roman ruler,  what Jesus leaves us with as we journey with him through Holy Week, is a clear sense of his passions and his priorities, those things which drove him to do what he did.
We call it Jesus’ passion, this week of confrontation and suffering, the word passion coming from the Latin passio, which means ‘suffering’. But today we more commonly use the word passion to describe those things we are deeply interested in, enthusiastic about and committed to. 
Sometimes we spiritualise the meaning of Jesus’ death, and it is hard for people to comprehend precisely what is meant by him ‘dying for the sins of the whole world’. It is crucial that we don’t reduce it to some cosmic, legalistic formula, for the events of what we call Holy Week were concrete not abstract, and the meaning of Jesus’ death is entirely bound up in his confrontation with these earthly powers and authorities, for the sake of the good and gracious way of God. 
Jesus’ execution is the last desperate act of the kingdoms of this world to assert their dominion over those who oppose them; Jesus’ resurrection is the ultimate triumph of the kingdom of God over those forces - meaning Jesus can continue to live out his passions in collaboration with those who choose to walk with him.
These stories leave us with a single question, a question which could turn our world upside down, depending on how we answer it. The question for you and me is this: are the passions of Jesus, also my passions?
This is a rewrite of my earlier sermon, Jesus’ crowd is a Flash Mob, preached in Devon in 2013.
 YouTube: #TheWelshAreComing.
 Wikipedia: Flash Mob.
 Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, The Last Week, What the Gospels really teach about Jesus’ final days in Jerusalem, p.2-5. The entire thesis of this sermon owes a great deal to Borg and Crossan’s inspirational work.
 Borg and Crossan, Chapter Two.
 Borg and Crossan, Chapter Three.
 Borg and Crossan, Chapter Four.
 Borg and Crossan, Chapter Five.
 Borg and Crossan, p.VIII.
 For a range of resources discussing atonement theology, see Paul Neuchterlein, The Anthropology of René Girard and Traditional Doctrines of Atonement.