Tag Archives: Zechariah 14

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?

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[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

March 8, 2014 (Year B Lent 3) Celtic Meditation

John 2:13-22

In John’s gospel, this incident in Jesus’ ministry comes immediately after his first miracle at the wedding feast in Cana. His disciples, having seen this miracle, trust him (John 2:11). In this reading, Jesus is at the center of the Jewish world, the Temple in Jerusalem, and he is violently challenging the use of this sacred space as a place of commerce. His actions might have been less startling to the Jews of his day since Jesus’ behavior is in line with that of the prophets. The prophets had consistently warned the people of God against diluted worship practices and taking advantage of others in trade.[1]  Here, the issue is the practice of commerce in the space set aside for worship. How have we, as church, mingled secular with sacred in our sacred space and, in doing so, made it hard for people to worship and pray with us?

Even if prophetic action like Jesus’ was less startling then than it might be now, the religious leaders needed verification of Jesus’ authority for his actions. The sign that they ask for is a sign of God’s authorization for Jesus to serve as a prophet. Jesus explained what the coming sign was, but the leaders of the Temple misunderstood.  Jesus’ reply–that the sign of his authority to be both priest and prophet is that the temple, the dwelling place of God, will be torn down and then he will rebuild it in three days–can only be understood after the first Easter.  The Temple of God, the place where God dwells, is uniquely in the person of Jesus.  What does it look like for us, as church, to live into our acceptance of Jesus’ death and resurrection as a sign of Jesus’ authority?

Jesus’ disciples had begun to trust Jesus, but their faith would be much more robust after Jesus was raised from the dead. Then they realized that Jesus’ actions in the Temple that day were an expression of his living out Psalm 69. Jesus’ passion for the people of God is summarized by verse 9: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”[2] As we continue through our Lenten journey, let us ask ourselves what do we as church, as those who have tasted Jesus’ authority, need to be doing in order to grow into an all-consuming zeal for God’s house in our day?

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

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[1] William Pape Wood. “John 2:13-22.” Interpretation 45 no 1 (1991): 59-63. In particular, Zechariah had prophesied that the day was coming when all of Israel would be holy to the Lord and there would be no trade taking place in the Temple (Zech 14:21).

[2] Richard B. Hayes, “Can the Gospels Teach Us How to Read the Old Testament?” Pro ecclesia, 11 no 4 (Fall 2002), 413-415.