March 29, 2015 (Year B, Palm Sunday) Celtic Meditation

Mark 11:1-11

I wonder if the disciples were surprised when Jesus sent them to go get a donkey colt that had never been ridden. I wonder if they were surprised that the acquisition of the colt went as smoothly as it did and just like Jesus said it would. When have we, as a church, followed what we knew to be a clear set of counter-intuitive instructions from the Lord and been surprised to find that we were doing exactly what we needed to be doing when we needed to be doing it?

In hindsight, the disciples recognized that Jesus was fulfilling Zechariah’s prophesy.[1] What happened next is the people’s response to Jesus’ actions also foretold in this same passage of Zechariah’s prophesies. The people responded using a phrase from Psalm 118, but the language might seem odd to us today even though we use this same phrase every week in the traditional eucharistic liturgy. “Hosanna” is Aramaic for “save us, we pray”[2] and is addressed to the blessed one, the one who is to be praised, who comes in the full authority of God. This plea for salvation asks God, from God’s highest dwelling place, to save the people. When Jesus, the long awaited son of King David, entered Jerusalem, the actions of the people matched their words. They pleaded for salvation, a salvation that comes through the institution of the Davidic kingdom by the man whom they accepted as the one approved by God. They used their coats to smooth out the road[3] and they waved branches to celebrate the coming of the Son of David into David’s royal city. What do we, as church, need to be doing so that our actions more clearly align with our words used when we celebrate the eucharist which is the Son of David’s instrument for bringing in his kingdom?

Jesus then went to the temple, looked around, noticed the time of day, and went back to Bethany for the night. Sometimes, even when we know what needs to be done, what we most need to do in the moment is to wait. This week, our practice, as church, is to wait and remember. What does it look like for us, as church, to discern the time and season and wait for the right time to act?

———————————————————-

[1] Zechariah 9:9. For Mark’s use of Zechariah 14, see Paul Brooks Duff, “The March of the Divine Warrior and the Advent of the Greco-Roman King: Mark’s Account of Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem.” Journal of Biblical Literature 111/1 (1992): 55-71. For the contrast between Jesus’ entry into the city and Greco-Roman traditions of the day, see Brent Kinman, “Jesus’ Royal Entry into Jerusalem.” Bulletin for Biblical Research 15.2 (2005): 223-260.

[2] USB Greek lexicon

[3] I wonder if this laying down of coats is a way of “making straight the path of the Lord” commanded in Isaiah 45:13 which is repeated in Mark 1:3 but now applied to Jesus. Through John the baptizer’s ministry, many of the people of Israel were looking for the Messiah.

© 2015 Donna R. Hawk-Reinhard, All Rights Reserved

Leave a Reply