04.10.2022 Palm Sunday


“The King is Coming, Jerusalem”

Graham Braddock

2013


Graham Braddock was born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1942. He trained as a graphic artist but in 1974 he became a professional NZ landscape artist, winning such awards as Kelliher Art Award and the Cambridge Art Award From 1975 – 1999 he has held many exhibitions in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, spending 1984 in Israel, which inspired his biblical paintings.


Graham says: “Ultimately, I want my paintings to reveal that there is a great, overarching, purpose behind life and creation; to present facets of the wonder and beauty of God’s character; to encourage you to discover Him through Jesus Christ; to adventure beyond the present… to become excited about the future… to live in confidence and hope!

… “I stood in a graveyard not far from the point where Jesus entered the city on that first Palm Sunday. I imagined the crowds, the air of excitement, the shouts of, Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord! I thought of a coming day when He will come again to the same city. Next time the cheering crowd will be global. Next time He will enter to rule as worldwide Prince of Peace.

He is coming. Our lives can be a shout of welcome!”


Lectio

Luke 19 : 28-40

28“After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

29As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives,

he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30‘Go to the village ahead of you,

and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden.

Untie it and bring it here. 31If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘

The Lord needs it’’. 32Those who were sent ahead went and found it

just as he had told them. 33As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them,

‘Why are you untying the colt?’ 34They replied, ‘The Lord needs it'.

35They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.

36As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.

37When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives,

the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God

in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

38‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!

Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’

39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus,

‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ 40‘I tell you’, he replied,

if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out’”.


MEDITATIO

Context

Jesus continues on his way to Jerusalem, towards his final passion and death, which lay only a few miles and a few days away. He had been preaching his ministry for three years but He and his message had been rejected. Looking to the past, Prophets had resorted to action, to emphasise their words or when their words were having no effect; when people had not listened or had not understood. They created a dramatic picture of their message through their actions[1].


Jesus plans his entry into Jerusalem

So, Jesus planned such action now. He would ride into Jerusalem in a manner which made it clear that He was making his claim to be the Messiah, God’s anointed King. He had set his plan some time before, as He had already arranged to obtain a colt on which He would travel. Whether that arrangement had been made in advance with the owners, or whether Jesus was relying on support from a follower, we do not know. All we know is that Jesus sent two of his Disciples with the instruction to go to the village opposite, where they would find on their approach, a tethered colt. This they were to untie and bring to him. He told them that if anyone were to question their actions they were to say “The Lord needs it”. So they went off on this task and were duly questioned by the owners as to why they were untying the colt, to which they replied as instructed “The Lord needs it” and they were allowed to proceed.


Much is made of this arrangement in the Gospel passage and clearly the Disciples’ errand was a special one. Had Jesus previously made arrangements with the owners, or is Jesus’ foreknowledge or messianic authority implied in these mysterious instructions to obtain the colt?[2]


There is a strong similarity here with the instruction Jesus would give a few days later to Peter and John, while probably in Bethany, to enter Jerusalem, where they would be met by a man carrying a jug of water, who would lead them to a room, where Jesus would celebrate the Passover with his Disciples. Again, a specific message was to be given to the man and the arrangement was described. Jesus instructed them to say “The Teacher asks ‘Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’” He told them that they would be shown to a large room upstairs, all furnished. They were to make preparations there; and so when they came to the City they found things just as Jesus had said and they made their preparations[3].


Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem

As we can see from Jesus’ careful planning, the decision to enter Jerusalem in the manner He did was not impulsive, but rather pre-determined. His arrangements had been thought through in detail.


By this time, there was a price on Jesus’ head[4]. He would be watched carefully. Regardless, He chose not to try to enter unseen and leave again. No, his purpose was to create a dramatic entrance and make himself the focal point of it. His disciples have draped the colt in their cloaks, their most costly possession, before helping Jesus to mount and the gathering crowds followed suit by strewing other garments onto the road before him, as He made his way. He was deliberately drawing as much attention to himself as possible, to call attention to his words and proclaim his message of love. What an act of defiance! Many would scarcely believe their eyes. What courage this must have taken and what faith and trust in his Father He demonstrated, to so expose himself to his enemies and in doing so, to create the beginning of his final days.


Interestingly, Luke makes no reference to the waving the palms, as is found in the other Gospels. It may be that Luke was already aiming his version of the Gospel[5] towards the Gentiles, who would not understand the palm as a Jewish symbol of victory and triumph; that those holding them high on Jesus’ approach to Jerusalem were likely to see him as a path to political deliverance.


But Jesus had already warned the Jews that if they did not repent, if they continued to look to an earthly kingdom and to reject the Kingdom of God, they would perish[6].


Jesus’ claim to be King

This was a bold way of Jesus claiming to be King, deliberately fulfilling Zechariah ‘s words “Lo, your King comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey[7]. In his actions, Jesus was demonstrating the kind of kingship He was claiming – a king of love and peace. An ass or donkey in Palestine then was not the humble animal, as we see it. Rather, it was a symbol of peace which kings would ride if they came in peace; riding a horse signified war. So, Jesus in his choice and in his actions was proclaiming himself King of love and peace – and not a conquering military king which is what the Jews were awaiting. It was as if He wanted to make one final dramatic appeal to be accepted as their King; making one last attempt to have his offer of love and peace accepted by them. Sadly, that was not to be the case and, instead, in a matter of days, He was to be subject to the hatred of men and the cruellest of deaths.


Confrontation with the Pharisees

As Jesus drew near to the City, some Pharisees in the crowds took issue with the Disciples’ joyful cries of blessings on Jesus as King, declaring peace and glory in heaven and bearing witness to all the powerful deeds done by Jesus.

These Pharisees, addressing Jesus as “Teacher” told him to rebuke his Disciples. They thought that the Disciples had gone too far making claims for Jesus that He himself would not dare make[8]. But once again, Jesus’ response was sound and He made it clear that the time for proclamation of his true identity and mission had come. God’s plan was to be revealed now, and, if not by the Disciples, then even the stones would cry out in witness. Use of the same rhetoric can be found in the Old Testament, in God’s reply to the Prophet’s complaint[9].


Conclusion

The first thing we learn from the Gospel of Luke is that Jesus knew fully and understood completely the opposition He was facing and its consequences; but He kept trust with his Father and would not be deterred from his mission on earth.

Palm Sunday reminds us that the reign of Christ is far greater than any that the mind of man could ever conceive. The Jews were looking for someone to fight their battles in their present-day world. Yet God had the ultimate plan to send His Son to fight the final battle over death. This is the greatness of what we celebrate this coming week. Because of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, we can be set free of death. It is also a reminder of the importance of continuing to welcome Jesus into our hearts, with a willingness to follow him.


The Passion narrative in the Gospel of Luke records a variety of human responses to Jesus, from faith and jubilant praise, to mockery, hostility and violence. Yet throughout this narrative of ever-changing human responses, of human blindness, weakness and hardness of heart, one thing remains constant: God’s will to show mercy and to save! We can see that, even amid this human tragedy, God is at work for good.


ORATIO

Prayer for Peace

“Lord Jesus Christ, who are called the Prince of Peace,

who are yourself our peace and reconciliation,

who so often said "Peace to you," grant us peace.

Make all men and women witnesses of truth,

justice and brotherly love. Banish from their hearts whatever might endanger peace.

Enlighten our rulers that they may guarantee

and defend the great gift of peace.

May all peoples on the earth

become as brothers and sisters. May longed for peace blossom forth

and reign always over us all”.

Saint John Paul II


CONTEMPLATIO

We can never tire of the Gospel narrative, of how Jesus came to lay down his life for us. It is the story of some of the most dramatic events ever told

o Where is our part in this story?

o Have we taken the message of Jesus to our hearts?

o Do we consider that he has ensured our salvation?

o What can we do to secure salvation for ourselves?

o How can we show Jesus the love he deserves?

o When we think deeply about it, do we find it overwhelming ?

Jesus’ life was to change dramatically in just a few days

o Do we stop to consider that ours too may take unexpected paths?

o How to we prepare for unexpected hardship?

o Can we prepare for life changing for the better?

o Can we acknowledge that we have received unlimited chances to be a true

disciple of Jesus and resolve to try to live without the need for more?

o Can we take the step of putting our lives in God’s hands and trusting him?

The Jews’ rejection of Jesus

o Jesus was rejected by the hardness of their hearts.

o He was not the Messiah they were looking for.

o Are there times when we too reject God’s love because it is not what we want, or

his way is too difficult?

o In the short period of three years, Jesus was rejected by those He came to save.

He poured out his love and his life’s blood for us during this time. Do we find it hard

to bring the same focus on his message throughout the whole our lives?

 

[1] 1Kings 11: 29-31; Jeremiah 13:1-11; 27:1-11; Ezekiel 4:1-3; 5: 1-4 [2] Collegeville Bible Commentary, p.971 [3]Luke 22: 10-13: “’Listen’, he said to them, ‘when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters and say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher asks you, ‘Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’’ He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there’. So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal”. [4] John 11:57: “Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that they might arrest him”. [5] Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11: 1-11; John 12: 12-19 [6] Luke 13: 5: “I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.” [7] Zechariah 9:9 [8] Collegeville Bible Commentary, p.971 [9] Habakkuk 2:11: “He very stones will cry out from the wall, and the plaster will respond from the woodwork”.

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