When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.'” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it.
Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. [NRSA: Mark 11:1-11]
Generosity vs Gratitude
We had some car trouble. While we are blessed to have three options for transportation, two of them were in the shop. In a moment where the three of our household needed to travel in two opposing directions, our neighbor most generously offered to let us use one of theirs. My story of generous sharing is shared in culture and moment of abundance. The two of them also have three cars and did not need all three that day.
Jesus’ story is of different quality and purpose. It is not simply about the kindness of sharing in a time of need. It is about devoting and trusting Jesus in something that might prove difficult to us and others.
The fellow in town whose colt was being untied by one of the disciples could have had a rock and sling and begun to whirl stones to scare them away.
Jesus’s instruction, at first appearance, was the opposite of the 8th Commandment. Go and take the colt, and “IF” someone sees you or asks, tell them we need your ride for the Messiah. To which the person who owns the colt agreed with faithfulness, pride, curiosity, or neighborly trust.
The first lesson in the passage for us to see and hear is that God calls us to make practical preparations for God’s work. There is an implicit inclusion of “Things To Do” for the kingdom that Jesus is expecting us to be working on and about. And the first in this instance is transportation and celebration.
The entry into the city by Jesus as the Messiah would signal a parade of sorts. Just when we hear the parade is coming to town, we make our way to the sidewalk where we might get a view, little ones near the curb, in case candy or prizes are hurled at the crowd. Small ones sit atop parents’ shoulders. Police clearing traffic, waves of people form the way with flags, banners, streamers, and festive decorations.
We ought not to be too surprised that people would wave palm branches just as we might wave foam fingers, rally rags, and noisemakers to share in the festivities. For two to four hundred years of seriously awaiting the appearance of the Messiah to restore the fortunes of Zion were the hope of everyone in town.
No Limousines nor convertibles.
Jesus is making both a political and theological statement to the people by arriving as the new king on an animal of humility. Some leaders parade riding in tanks, some in bullet-proof limos, others on the back of a pickup truck, making different political statements. Jesus, in effect, arrived on a Walmart/Murry riding lawn mower, and not the Zero radius variety. Which would have raised some questions by those seeking power and approval by those who did basic labor from day today.
There was no horse, chariot, carriage, and not even a litter. (That little box with poles carried by 6, 8, or 10.)
The (1) first lesson, God has work for us to help reveal the kingdom, and Our (2) second lesson from this passage is a reminder that Jesus’s mission is not to prove that he was King, but rather what type of Kingdom God’s kingdom truly is.
God wants us to be clear about the kingdom.
Remember some of the kingdom Says:
- Matthew 13:31 NRSA – He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field;
- Matthew 13:33 NRSA – He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
- Matthew 13:44 NRSA – “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
- Matthew 13:45 NRSA – “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls;
- Matthew 13:47 NRSA – “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind;
- Matthew 13:52 NRSA – And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
- Matthew 18:4 NRSA – whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
- Matthew 20:1 NRSA — “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.
The Kingdom of God is not a complicated thing.
King Jesus’ Theological Platform:
The tiny mustard seed, the expanding work of yeast, hidden to be found and treasured, for all people, for old and new, humble and includes our labors for the kingdom.
The (3) third lesson for this Palm Sunday looks beyond the festivities of praise and worship to the timing of Revelation, Truth, and Judgement.
For all the effort of the celebration, what does it look like after the parade? After the Christmas presents are opened? After the Thanksgiving table has been shared.
At the end of the pageantry is work of cleaning things up.
Who likes to do the dishes? Take down the tree? Clean the carpet, return the order of everyday and not just the holiday.
- Jesus prepared, enjoyed, and celebrated with the disciples and the city, but his work was not to be done at the end of the day, but at its beginning.
- His work was not to be done in darkness, even though others would do their evil work in the shadows.
- Jesus’s intent is to reveal for all to see, as we peek ahead, we know at the moment he breaths his last breath, the skies turn dark as night, another reversal of our expectation.
The central part of the coronation and crowning of Jesus as Messiah would not be done by public opinion, and the fickle power of political change, his kingship is revealed in God’s timing, for our benefit.
Jesus looks around at the celebration and knows we will follow when the crowd is behind us when the party is raging, but Jesus needs disciples who are faithful until the judgment.
This is where Palm Sunday begins to point to the rest of the week.
- Our spiritual journey of Lent has prepared us for this moment, or we are not. Jesus needs disciples will follow in when…
- Faithfulness is not popular. When…
- Truth is twisted, and when…
- Persecution is at the door.
Palm Sunday in 2021 begs us to answer.
- are we waving the banner of Christ to a sinful world that is ready to rewrite what it thinks is truth?
- When it chooses the evil of Barabbas just to shut Jesus up?
- When the culture believes it is the judge of humanity and turns to threaten the intentions, faith, and witness of Christ’s faith?
Just as on the first Palm Sunday, we gather to worship and lift high the name and praise of Jesus and tomorrow.
- we will be tempted to go along with the crowd,
- to redefined what is honorable, good, and true.
- Avoid persecution by following the threats and demands of the crowd.
Jesus looks around and says to the disciples… We need to step back and review before the final exam.
As our Students are working hard toward the end of another school year, teachers are preparing the exams that will not only reflect how well the students have learned but also how well the teachers have taught.
Jesus retreats to give the disciples a final word. We will see in the story that Jesus shares the Passover, time in teaching, and prayer, in the wake of the full unfolding of grace and glory.
We now live knowing who the story unfolds and we join now as disciples with a similar list of To-Dos in the face of culture ready to threaten, dismiss, and attempt to de-thrown the body of Christ. Palm Sunday is our final wake-up call to use these next six days of work, that when Christ comes, we are ready to say, I have fed, I have clothed, I have taught, I have carried, I have healed, I have blessed in your name…. and not just found another outfit for the annual Sunday tradition.
This is a sneak peek are we ready for Christ’s return?