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Palm Sunday

(posted as part of the blog www.somethingshappeninghere.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/palm-sunday/)

expectation (ekspektSHn)
Noun 1. A strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future. 2. A belief that someone will or should achieve something. Synonyms: expectancy expectance hope anticipation - prospect

Scriptural Context: (you can click on the links to read the full Biblical texts)
Matthew 21:1-11 Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem riding on a donkey.

Zechariah 9:9 The prophet foretells of the Messiah riding through Jerusalem on a donkeys colt. Exodus 34:5-9 The steadfast love of the Lord endures forever. Psalm 118 The stone that the builders rejected has become the capstone.

Reflection: The Narrative: Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King


Matthew 21:1-11 21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away. 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 Say to Daughter Zion, See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks

on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven! 10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, Who is this? 11 The crowds answered, This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.

The Narrative: Defying Expectation?


Setting: Jerusalem, in the week before Jesus crucifixion Characters: Jesus, his disciples, a crowd of people in a busy city centre, donkeys colt , you and me Plot: Jesus instructs two disciples to get him a donkeys colt he will use to ride through the crowd in the city centre of Jerusalem. Jesus enters the crowd riding on a donkeys colt. Context: A people who have, for hundreds of years, been expecting a fulfillment of their Gods covenantal promise to bring them a Saviour, respond to the presence of this man Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkeys colt. Points of View: Disciples: Jesus instructs: Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away. The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. Oh to be in the mind of the disciples when they hear these instructions! The details of the instructions might seem random, insignificant, unpredictable to us but being well-versed in their own Scriptural tradition as Jews, the disciples would have recognized the significance of Jesus request. One of the prophets, Zachariah, had foretold of this very scene and event about 500 years earlier, to the minute details. But cant you also hear the very human response first: how did he know that? As part of this new breed of Christ-followers, the disciples were getting used to situations like this: predestined events, miracles, a depth of teaching unlike anything they had heard before. And yet it was familiar nonetheless, as a fulfillment of what the prophets had been saying for generations. All the pieces were coming together in a way they could not fully comprehend; yet they still believed. Without our gift of hindsight and history, the disciples trusted, and followed through on the instructions Jesus gave them. Although they

couldnt possibly understand what it all really meant, they were among the first believers that Jesus was the Messiah. The Crowd: A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven! Like the disciples, the crowds of people in the city centre of Jerusalem were also well-versed in the traditions of their Jewish heritage. They knew what their God had promised them, although they had been waiting for hundreds and hundreds of years for the promise to unfold. In all that time, expectations grew for an almighty King to come to them as their Messiah their Saviour to free them from oppression once and for all, the awaited King of the Jews. For those who heard that this man Jesus might just be the One, they drew towards the crowds to see who it was that was coming into town. Imagine their surprise when they saw the awaited King of the Jews ambling towards them on a donkeys colt not a mighty warhorse. Whats going on? Is this some kind of a joke? The Hosannas rang loud and clear shouts for justice, against oppression, within the antsy anticipation of their Mighty King. Confused shouts in the crowded, oppressive midst of many people tired of waiting. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, Who is this? The crowds answered, This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee. Who is this, indeed. Defying expectations, Jesus rides in, in simple garb, on a donkeys young colt, no entourage of mighty warriors. In mere human understanding, this was too much to bear. The very crowds that half in anger and bewilderment, and half in anxious, ansty anticipation of their long awaited King shouted out their Hosannas to this humble (humiliating?) image, in the same fashion shouted out Crucify him! less than a week later. It was group-think at its worst. But what they couldnt understand was that Jesus had to defy all human expectations, otherwise it would be same-old, same-old all over again. In the mixed message of the Royal King riding on the most insignificant of humble beasts (and on a colt, nonetheless, that had not even likely been strong enough to be used for work yet), Jesus plays out Gods plan of a necessary revolution, turning it all up side down in the sweetest of ironies. The weak shall be strong. The last shall be first. What you have done for even the least of these, you have done for me. The event and image are just too rich in dichotomous symbolism to not appreciate. A whole new order had begun. But for the crowds who were steeped in anticipation for generations, this defied all expectations of the fulfillment of the covenant.

You and Me: Where do we fit in as we relive this scene? Are we like the crowd, anxiously waiting for something of importance to happen some overt grand gesture that, when it doesnt happen, leaves us feeling cheated and disappointed, angry even? Or are we overlooking, in their very gentleness and humbleness, the signs, gifts and messages that we are already given, that are already in our midst? What might seem insignificant because of its simplicity could in fact be the answer we are seeking. Are we like the crowd in our group-think swept up in the waves of emotion and drama that surround us? Surely the bigger, grander, more unbelievable, more scandalous events and messages are the right ones; the simple truths are boring, and weve heard them all before. When we do get caught up in the drama, it is now of all times that we need God to help us to step back and take a look from the outside in. Only through direct conversation with our God, through prayer and through the Spirits guidance through the Word, can we truly step back, re centre, re-focus, and discern the truth of what we are getting involved in. With His help to erase all distractions any thought or behaviour that is getting in the way of focusing solely on Him we can truly stop, listen, hear, and determine the right path. Then, we will be more like the disciples, who go and do as Jesus has instructed. With our gift of the written testaments, hindsight and history books, one would think we would see more clearly, understand more fully, and simply believe. But maybe, like the crowds steeped in their tradition and cultural understandings, we, too, need to put aside everything we have learned, all of our paradigms, all of our preconceived ideas and judgements and start again at the very beginning, see with fresh new eyes. Otherwise its the same -old, same-old all over again, and we risk missing out on the new life promised of old. When he could have shown us his power and might, God reveals himself to Moses in the Exodus passage as a God of love, care, compassion, forgiveness, graciousness, faithfulness and abounding in love. In the same way, when he could have perhaps come in, trumpets blaring, into Jerusalem, Jesus enters as the Servant King, royalty on a donkeys colt. We need to refocus on that redirect our attention to the God who transcends time and place, to care for us and love us enough to break down forever any barriers between our relationship with Him, by giving us the ultimate gift of His Sons life, death and resurrection. So this Palm Sunday may be the perfect time to step back and observe whats going on in your life, and then take it God in prayer for fresh new eyes to discern His true purpose for you. Maybe then we wont dismiss the simple truths; for it is those simple truths that hold the greatest majesty, and the promise of a new life.

Message in Music:
El Shaddai, by Amy Grant (full lyrics here) El Shaddai, El Shaddai, El-Elyon na Adonai, Age to age You're still the same, by the power of the name. El Shaddai, El Shaddai, Erkahmka na Adonai, We will praise and lift You high, El Shaddai. Through the years You made it clear that the time of Christ was near, Though the people couldn't see what Messiah ought to be. Though Your Word contained the plan, they just could not understand Your most awesome work was done through the frailty of Your Son.

You can click on the picture to take you to the youtube video of the song.

Jesus, I am resting, by Tricia Brock (full lyrics here) Jesus I am resting, resting in the joy of what Thou art. I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart. Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee and Thy beauty fills my soul For by Thy transforming power Thou hast made me whole How great Thy loving kindness, vaster, broader than the sea! How marvelous Thy goodness lavished all on me! Yes I rest in Thee Beloved - know what wealth of grace is Thine; Know Thy certainty of promise and hath made it mine.

You can click on the picture to take you to the youtube video of the song.

Prayer: Agnus Dei, by Samuel Barber (King's College Choir)


Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. (translation: The Lamb of God, who took the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.)

You can click on the picture to take you to the youtube video of the song.