Palm Sunday Lesson
April 10, 2022
Read the passage at the bottom of this post: Luke 19:28-40, The Message or Luke 19:28-40, The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).
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This post refers only to the text for Palm Sunday - Jesus enters Jerusalem.
Click Luke 22:14 -- 23:56 for commentary on the Passion text.
The comments below are drawn from my earlier notes on the parallel text found at Mark 11:1-1.
On this day in the life of Jesus, it is the beginning of the week in which Passover will be celebrated in Jerusalem.
Passover is still celebrated by Jews to this day.
Celebrated in synagogues, and most particularly in homes, where their salvation from slavery in Egypt is remembered and re-told: The hardship of our oppression. The calling of Moses to lead us to freedom and to a promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey. The repeated agreement - and then reneging - of the Pharaoh, until the tenth and final and most deadly of the plagues - the angel of death that killed all first born males - except for the homes where we had used the blood of a lamb to mark our door posts - those homes were passed over. The hurried preparations to be ready to flee - no time for leavened bread. The flight from Egypt pursued by the Egyptian soldiers. The miraculous parting of the Red Sea to allow us to pass through, but drowning the pursuing soldiers. The hardship of the 40 years wandering in the wilderness. The giving of the 10 Commandments - now that we are free, how shall live? What does the Lord require of us?
And then as now, remembering that the journey from oppression to freedom, from corruption to purity, from unjust violence to non-violent justice, has not been completed. Leave the door ajar and an empty chair at the table for Elijah! When Elijah comes the Messiah is on his way. And when the Messiah comes, finally the will of God will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Next year in Jerusalem!
But on this day in Jesus' life, this is the year, and this is Jerusalem. At least that is what the crowd thinks. Listen to their shouts:
Blessed is the King
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!
Now Jerusalem is not a large city. And what the authors of the Bible take for granted and fail to mention is that while Jesus is parading in on a colt through one of the back gates, on the other side of the city Pilate is parading in on a war horse accompanied by a squadron or two of battle hardened Roman soldiers. You can bet that he too is being acclaimed by a crowd. There'd be hell to pay if he wasn't. (See Borg & Crossan, The Last Week, pages 1-30. Click here to check it out on Amazon.)
The Bible doesn't tell us about that parade or what they shouted, but you can bet it wasn't, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!" That would be treason. And treason was punishable by? You guessed it, by torture followed by execution on a cross.
Do you think anyone at Pilate's parade heard about Jesus' parade? Heard what the crowd had shouted? Let's see what unfolds in the week ahead.
Note: Historical background information is primarily from Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh, Social Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels, pages 305-306; and the writings of Amy-Jill Levine, et. al. See link below.
Luke 19:28-40 (NRSV)
28 After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
29 When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, "Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' just say this, 'The Lord needs it.'" 32 So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?" 34 They said, "The Lord needs it." 35 Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38 saying,
"Blessed is the king who comes
in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!"
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, order your disciples to stop." 40 He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out." 41 As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, "If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. 44 They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God."
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Luke 19:28-40, The Message)
28 After saying these things, Jesus headed straight up to Jerusalem. 29 When he got near Bethphage and Bethany at the mountain called Olives, he sent off two of the disciples with instructions: 30 "Go to the village across from you. As soon as you enter, you'll find a colt tethered, one that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it. 31 If anyone says anything, asks, 'What are you doing?' say, 'His Master needs him.'"
32 The two left and found it just as he said. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners said, "What are you doing untying the colt?"
34 They said, "His Master needs him."
35 They brought the colt to Jesus. Then, throwing their coats on its back, they helped Jesus get on. 36 As he rode, the people gave him a grand welcome, throwing their coats on the street.
37 Right at the crest, where Mount Olives begins its descent, the whole crowd of disciples burst into enthusiastic praise over all the mighty works they had witnessed:
38 Blessed is he who comes,
the king in God's name!
All's well in heaven!
Glory in the high places!
39 Some Pharisees from the crowd told him, "Teacher, get your disciples under control!"
40 But he said, "If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise."
41 When the city came into view, he wept over it. 42 "If you had only recognized this day, and everything that was good for you! But now it's too late. 43 In the days ahead your enemies are going to bring up their heavy artillery and surround you, pressing in from every side. 44 They'll smash you and your babies on the pavement. Not one stone will be left intact. All this because you didn't recognize and welcome God's personal visit."
Scripture quotations from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
* Link to Amazon.com Bibliography for Bruce J. Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh, Social Science Commentary on ... The Synoptic Gospels; The Gospel of John; The Book of Acts; The Letters of Paul; The Book of Revelation; and others.
+ Link to Amazon.com Bibliography for Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler, Jewish Annotated New Testament, The Bible With and Without Jesus, Short Stories by Jesus, Entering the Passion of Jesus, and others.