Palm Sunday

by Chris Kamalski

Was the procession really this peaceful and static?

A Gospel Reading

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethpage and Bethany, close by the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, ‘Go to the village facing you, and as you enter it you will at once find a tethered colt that no one has yet ridden.  Untie it and bring it here.  If anyone says to you, ‘What are you doing?’ say, ‘The Master needs it and will send it back here at once.’  They went off and found a colt tethered near a door in the open street.  As they untied it, some men standing there said, ‘What are you doing untying that colt?’  They gave the answer that Jesus had told them, and the man let them go.  Then they took the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on its back, and he mounted it.  Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others greenery which they had cut in the fields.  And those who went in front and those who followed were all shouting, ‘Hosanna!  Blessed is he who is coming in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the coming kingdom of David our father!  Hosanna in the highest heavens!  He entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple; and when he had surveyed it all, as it was late by now, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.  (Mark 11:1-11, NJB)

A Few Thoughts Disguised As Questions

  • Why a colt?  Was this a symbol of an upside-down, revolutionary, counter-cultural Kingdom in opposition to the ‘Pax Romana’ show of force of the empire of the day (Rome)?  Was Jesus really aware of what He was doing?  Why is this so hard for us to swallow, that he would ‘deliberately’ set himself up to die?
  • Why a cry for imminent salvation (Literal translation for ‘Hosanna!’)?  Hadn’t the crowds picked up on Jesus’ teaching of the ‘already-present-but-not-fully-yet’ Kingdom, even as a hint?  Hadn’t word spread of Jesus’ previous refusals to be made physical King through a coup so far?  Did they really expect Him to suddenly display a massive show of force?  How did their expectations mislead them so badly?
  • Could Jesus’ movements have been more deliberate as He entered the city? Why record these details?  Why leave out others?  In a Gospel that rarely includes excess detail, why would Mark note that Jesus was ‘surveying’ the city, almost mentally preparing for what was to come?

A Prayer Appointed for the Day

Assist me mercifully with your help, O Lord God of our salvation, that I may enter with joy upon the contemplation of those mighty acts, whereby you have given us life and immortality, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.