An unbroken, borrowed colt and a festive procession so noisy if Jesus
said anything, we can't hear it above the Hosannas!--it's Palm Sunday,
but what does it all mean?


 

When they [Jesus and his followers] drew near Jerusalem, to
Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His
disciples; He said to them, "Go into the village opposite you; and
as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which
no one has sat. Loose it and bring it. If anyone says, 'Why are you
doing this?' say, 'The Lord has need of it,' and immediately he will
send it here."

They went their way, and found the colt tied by the door outside
on the street, and loosed it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus
and threw their clothes on it, and He sat on it. Many spread their
clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from
the trees and spread them on the road.

Those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:
            "Hosanna!
            'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'
            Blessed is the kingdom of our father David
            That comes in the name of the Lord!
            Hosanna in the highest!"

And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. When He had
looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went
out to Bethany with the twelve.

                                                      Mark 11:1-11 NKJV, condensed


                                 The Beginning of the End

Jesus and company approached Jerusalem from the east, coming first
to the Mount of Olives overlooking the bustling city which was streaming
with pilgrims who had come for the Passover festival. After walking all
the way from the Galilean countryside, Jesus wanted to ride the last
mile or two on a donkey. Not on any old beast of burden, but just the
right one. He had a specific colt in mind and, after giving them the
password, sent two of his disciples to fetch it.

Within a few short days, Jesus would be dead. With dying comes
urgency, so we can assume everything said and done in his last days
will have added purpose and meaning. These chapters are full of sacred
symbolism. Notice how carefully Jesus instructed his disciples regarding
the mount he wanted. It tells us something important is going on here;
it's a message we should not miss.

God's good news is about the miracles of birth, new life and new
beginnings. It's also about surprises and unlikely happenings. Just as
the young woman, Mary, who had never known a man, gave birth to
Jesus and delivered him into the world, on this day the "virgin" is the
unbroken foal of a donkey. It would deliver Jesus into Jerusalem at the
hour of his impending death.

The two disciples returned with the colt, their mission accomplished
without a hitch. Then they made a saddle with their coats. Jesus swung
himself onto the jackass and they proceeded down the hill toward
Jerusalem's eastern gate. Onlookers, happy to see Jesus again, joined
the spontaneous parade. With clothing and branches they laid down a
carpet for the donkey, and with shouts of joy they proclaimed the rider
blessed of God. Whether knowingly or not, they were literally doing
what the prophet Isaiah had instructed, "Prepare a highway for
our God."

There's something sad and pathetic about this scene. These people
wanted God to rescue them from the domination of the Roman 
empire. They wanted a show of force, a miraculous deliverance. But
Jesus wasn't charging in on a gilded chariot pulled by a team of
magnificent stallions. He came in meekness, appearing too large
for his lowly mount. 

If the city dwellers asked who this was that disturbed their peace and
created such a disturbance, they would not have been impressed to
hear it was Jesus, the prophet from Galilee. Nothing good had ever
come out of that poor country town of Nazareth anyway.

Kings possess power and authority. What did Jesus have to show
for himself? Whenever he needed something he had to borrow it
from someone else! To the unbiased observer he appeared no
more impressive than he had as a babe in the manger in
Bethlehem.

The hosanna chant is the dream of the ages and translates into
"Save now!" Yet God's salvation would not come at the point of a
sword, but with a sacrifice. Jesus came to save, but not in the way
people expected it. "Save now!" meant something entirely different
to Jesus than it did to those speaking the words. His kingdom was
not an earthly one, but a heavenly reality within the heart and
spirit of those who believe in him and do what he commanded.

We, today, watch this parade from a broader perspective. We know
that while the followers of Jesus shouted with joy and raised
expectations, there was another group planning an opposing
agenda, one that would condemn Jesus to death. Regretfully,
many of the same people who yelled "Hosanna!" were part of the
disillusioned crowd who also cried "Crucify him!" on Friday.

The two groups converged that week to settle the matter. Jesus'
troops scattered and fled. The opposition said they took Jesus' life;
he said he gave it. The lifeless body of Jesus was placed in a new
sepulcher where no one else had ever been laid. And yes, on the
third day we know that God was still at work in our world because
that virgin tomb delivered a new life, our risen Lord.

 

Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further
study or reflection.

 

Icebreaker: Recall a situation in which it was too noisy for you to talk to
                      the person next to you.

 

Two disciples were given donkey detail: Find the untamed creature; untie it
like horse thieves while telling onlookers the Lord needs it; then look foolish
while trying to persuade the stubborn animal to walk to where Jesus was waiting.
            How does that scene compare to some of the tasks you have tried
                        to accomplish for Jesus' sake?

 

How could Jesus guide an unbroken colt, without the benefit of stirrups or
saddle horn, over a clothes-strewn roadway through a boisterous crowd
with palm branches waving and everybody shouting noisily?
           Describe the scene from the point of view of the disciples, the crowd,
                        the colt, the public safety people, and Jesus.

 

Jesus entered Jerusalem with a very unique mission on his heart and mind.
            In your own words, explain what his mission was about.
            How did the details of his entrance symbolize who he was?
            What would you have done differently?

 

The text from Mark includes no words from Jesus except instructions
regarding the colt. Luke included a rebuke from the Pharisees to which
Jesus responded that if the people kept quiet the stones would cry out.
            What did Jesus mean by that?
Matthew said the use of the donkey fulfilled the words of Zechariah 9:9--
"Behold, your King is coming. . . ; . . . lowly and riding a donkey."
            Do you think Jesus chose to ride a donkey because of that Scripture?

 

Is there anything about the Palm Sunday experience which reminds you of
the Christmas or Easter stories?

 

King David was a warrior king; Israel's enemies were God's enemies and he
subdued them with the sword.
            According to Jesus, who or what was the enemy and how would
                        that enemy be destroyed?

 

In Webber and Rice's show, "Jesus Christ Superstar", the lyrics go like this:
"Hey sanna, ho sanna, sanna, sanna, hey sanna, ho sanna sanna sanna , ho sanna,
hey sanna, Hey, hey JC, JC won't you smile at me. Jesus Christ, if you're divine,
turn my water into wine. Prove to me that you're no fool. Walk across my
swimming pool. Hey sanna, ho sanna, sanna, sanna, hey sanna, ho sanna."
            Is this a good rendition of the Palm Sunday chant?   Why or why not?

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