Does Palm Sunday Teach Pacifism?

By Jon Kauffman

12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,


“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the king of Israel!”

14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:

15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;
    see, your king is coming,
    seated on a donkey’s colt.”[f]

16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. John 12:1-16 NIV

Does the Palm Sunday story in John teach that Christians should not participate in the military of their country?

I believe it does.

When a King conquered an enemy through the Roman military or the Egyptian military or the Assyrian military he paraded through the streets on a white horse. Jesus’ riding on a donkey indicated that he was the King of peace.

What did the people who were laying coats and palm branches in front of Jesus think that Jesus would do? They thought Jesus would throw off the yoke of Roman government and free them to live under a Jewish King or Messiah.

Does Jesus use the government or the military to conquer for his Kingdom?

The people wanted a military leader but Jesus came as spiritual King.

Jesus made clear that his Kingdom superseded human government. Jesus does not need government intervention or help to conquer evil and install his Kingdom.

At the beginning of his earthly ministry, Jesus went to the desert to be tempted. Satan offered to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would worship him.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Matthew 4:8-10

Falling water and colorful rocks at Baring Creek.
Copyright © 2022 by Leon Kauffman

Paul said that the weapons we use are not the weapons of the world.

 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 

Paul tells what weapons the followers of Jesus use in Ephesians 6.

Even in Revelation 19 when Jesus conquers evil, he uses the sword of the word of his mouth and does not use physical weapons.

11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”[a] He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh, he has this name written:

king of kings and lord of lords.

Revelation 19:11-16 NIV

During the first three centuries of the church, three times Rome tried to wipe out the church similar to way Hitler tried to wipe out the Jews. Jesus said that nothing could stand against his church. The Christians of the first 3 centuries did not need government to support Christianity. Today we do not need government to support Christianity.

Jesus said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”  Luke 14: 26,27 NIV

The war we are fighting is very dangerous.

When we serve Jesus we are fighting a real war, but that war is spiritual and more real than any physical battle.

 The Armor of God, Ephesians 6:11-17

Jesus and the Roman Centurion, Matthew 8:5-13

Does Romans 13 Justify Christian Participation in Violence?

Copyright © 2022 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted when used to further the Kingdom of God. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

Author: Jon

Jon Kauffman graduated from Goshen College, earning a BA in Religion. Jon attended a Mennonite Church while growing up and currently attends the Salvation Army Church. Jon works as a drafter at TrueNorth Steel, Fargo, ND.

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