28After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30saying, “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. 31If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 32So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34They said, “The Lord needs it.” 35Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. 37As 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, 38saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” 39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” 40He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+19:28-40&vnum=yes&version=nrsv
Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/palmsc.htm
Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk19b.htm
You Servant, Lord our God, speak the word that all the weary long to hear. Your Son humbles himself to carry the cross that your people long to embrace. As we enter this holy week, let the same mind be in us that was in Christ Jesus. Empty us of ourselves, and draw us close to his cross, that, comforted by his word of forgiveness and gladdened by his promise of Paradise, into your hands we may commend our spirits. We ask this through your Son, the Christ, our Passover and Peace, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.
From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year C, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.
A Few Thoughts
This Sunday is Palm Sunday. We are tempted to preach on the passion reading. I have always struggled with this ancient tradition as in our culture I often find that it excuses people from coming to the services on Good Friday. Moreover, it clouds and complicates the wonderful readings we have in our Gospel for the day.
We are given for our lesson in year C the passage from Luke 19, beginning at the 28th verse. This passage is reaching towards the culmination of Jesus’ ministry and is often referred to as the prophet’s entry into Jerusalem. Here in this moment we see all of Jesus’ followers hoping for something new, more than likely a return to Davidic rule…meanwhile the prophetic mission of Jesus is unraveling before them and revealing quite a different mystery to behold.
We begin in the first verse with the narrator telling us that Jesus has gone up to Jerusalem. This very first verse is intimately connected with the parable that directly precedes our text today. Neither Luke 19:11-27 or our passage for this Sunday, Luke 19:28-40, can be read alone. Here is the parable Jesus tells before his entry:
12So [Jesus] said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. 13He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, ‘Do business with these until I come back.’ 14But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to rule over us.’ 15When he returned, having received royal power, he ordered these slaves, to whom he had given the money, to be summoned so that he might find out what they had gained by trading. 16The first came forward and said, ‘Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds.’ 17He said to him, ‘Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities.’ 18Then the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your pound has made five pounds.’ 19He said to him, ‘And you, rule over five cities.’ 20Then the other came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it up in a piece of cloth, 21for I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22He said to him, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23Why then did you not put my money into the bank? Then when I returned, I could have collected it with interest.’ 24He said to the bystanders, ‘Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds.’ 25(And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten pounds!’) 26‘I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.’”
As we read this passage we see that Jesus is teaching that indeed he is the one who has the authority, he will exercise it, and he will give it away. As we project this forward we can easily recognize that the great prophet’s entry into Jerusalem will be messianic and kingly. We can imagine that he will soon and very soon give authority to his followers. He will even grant entrance into the kingdom to a thief. This exercise of authority and power will continue to be handed down through the apostles. So we look and see as he enters Jerusalem he is himself entering the distant country, where he will receive from God and claim as his own the rightful place as ruler in the reign of God. He is prepared for his death and to give away the authority to heal and reconcile the world to his followers. As we gather with Jesus on the hilltop, on the Mount of Olives, are we ready to receive the authority given to us? Are we ready to follow Jesus into Jerusalem? Are we ready to faithfully walk with him all the way to his cross and then to Easter morning?
The ancient pilgrim tales from Egeria recalls centuries of Christian practice on this palm day of rehearsing, re-imagining, and re-enacting Jesus’ entry. You can read more about this here: http://www.ccel.org/m/mcclure/etheria/etheria.htm.
We are reminded of Zechariah 9.9 with the colt which is sent for by Jesus and retrieved by his disciples. Again, a simple prophecy but one characteristic of Luke’s writings, reminding us of the power this particular king lords over all.
Jesus then begins to make his way into the city riding the colt, as people throw their garments down before him. Each of us may remember any number of movie portrayals of this image or re-enactments at church or summer camp, in these reenactments and films we are touched in our heart with the true sense of wonderment at participation with Christ in this moment of triumphal entry. “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven! Glory in highest heaven!.” We are here connected to the kingship parable. The crowd is rejoicing in the presence of the visitation of God in Jesus.
As we reenact this event Sunday I will be thinking not of doing something that was done long ago but rather my own celebration of Christ’s eternal presence with us. Christ is with us this week. Christ has been with us through Lent. Christ is present in the life of the church. Christ is known to us and before us. Our Lenten journey is almost fulfilled and thanks to the presence of the risen Christ we may walk with Jesus into the last days of his life, his trial, and his crucifixion.
The Pharisees call out and rebuke the crowd. They even tell Jesus that he is to silence the people. They are objecting to the cry that Jesus is king. As Luke Timothy Johnson points out, that this shows us clearly that they are the ones from the parable “who would not have him rule over them.”
Jesus retorts that even if they were silenced the stones would cry out. He is the king and nothing and no silence will make it different. We may remember God’s promise on the plain to Abraham that the children of God will be raised up from these stones. For more on this please refer to the following passages in Luke’s Gospel: 19.44; 20.17,18; 21:5-6; 24:2 and Acts 4:11. Furthermore, Luke Timothy Johnson continues the exegesis of this passage bring to life more fully the kingdom parable on pages 298 and following in his text Luke.
From this triumphal entry Jesus is making his way to the Temple where he will claim in, cleaning it out, and make it the seat of his prophetic Word. The prophet king has come to claim his people and to offer to them a place in the reign of God.
The Lambeth Bible Study Method
This Bible study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African." This method is derived from the practice of Lectio Divina. The entire process should take about 30 minutes.
Question #5: "Briefly identify where this passage touches their life today," can change based upon the lesson. Find lesson oriented questions at this website: http://www.dcdiocese.org/word-working-second-question
Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. One person reads passage. This person then invites a member of the group to begin the process.
2. Each person briefly identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention then invites another person to share.
3. Each shares the word or phrase until all have shared or passed using the same invitation method.
4. The passage is read a second time, preferably from a different translation. The reader then invites a person in the group to begin the process.
5. Each person briefly identifies where this passage touches their life today, and then invites someone who has not shared yet.
6. The passage is read a third time, also from another translation, and the reader invites a person to start the process.
7. Each person responds to the questions, "What does God want me to do, to be or to change?"
8. The group stands up in a circle and holds hands. One person initiates the prayer “I thank God today for …” and “I ask God today for…” The prayer goes around the circle by squeezing the hand to your right.
9. When the circle is fulfilled, the person who initiated the prayer starts the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father…”