Posted by: Pauline | March 18, 2013

Scriptures for Sunday March 24

Luke 19:28-40

Up until this entry into Jerusalem, Jesus has shown no desire for the people to recognize him as king. When they wanted to make him king by force (John 6), he slipped away. Often he told people not to spread the word of what he had done. One reason for this is that the publicity would make it difficult for him to go about his ministry, between crowds wanting to see miracle and enemies wanting to arrest him.

Now that he knows he is coming to Jerusalem to die, there is no reason to keep quiet about who he is. By entering on a donkey, he knows he is fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy of the Messiah. He comes as a king but he comes in peace – a king coming to wage war would ride a horse rather than a donkey. Even the fact that he rides a colt no one has ridden is significant – no one else rode the same animal that a king used.

He accepts the honor people give him as they lay their cloaks on the road. (Consider what it meant for someone who probably only owned the one cloak to let the donkey Jesus rode walk on it.) He accepts their praise as “the King who comes in the name of the Lord” as they quote from Psalm 118.

Naturally all this upset the Pharisees. How could a simple rabbi let the crowd proclaim him as the long-promised Messiah sent by God? If it were not already clear by this point that Jesus was in fact presenting himself as the Messiah, his refusal to rebuke the people, as the Pharisees demand, shows that he accepts that honor as his due.

The usual understanding of his reply that “if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” is that nature itself would need to praise him if people did not. Psalm 98 speaks of rivers that clap their hands and hills that are joyful. Isaiah 55 describes mountains and hills breaking into singing, and trees clapping their hands.

Another possible interpretation, however, is that stones that witness wrong being done will cry out in condemnation, as in Habakkuk 2:11. If the followers of Jesus were forced to be silent, it would be such a great wrong that the stones would cry out to condemn it.

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-29

Psalm 118 is the last of a group of psalms (113 to 118) that were traditionally sung at the great feasts of Israel, so it was natural for the Jews coming to Jerusalem for the Passover to have its words in their minds. (It is thought that this may be the hymn sung by Jesus and his disciples after the Last Supper.)

Whatever Messianic associations this psalm already had in Jesus’ day, early Christians quickly came to see Messianic significance in Psalm 118, and New Testament writers quoted it numerous times. Some of these are in references to the triumphal entry into Jerusalem; others identify Jesus as “the stone that the builders rejected” that has become the cornerstone.


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