When you think of Palm Sunday, what is the first memory that comes to your mind? Please share in the comments. I’m expecting that waving palm fronds and processionals come to mind. We did a treasure hunt for the kids at our last church with all the elements of the Passion. The kids found eggs with trinkets to help them tell the Easter story. It was powerful for me. I hope it created a memorable experience for the kids, too.
Now as I write this reflection, it’s the first part of October. Not the usual time for thinking about this story. Putting those limiting thoughts aside, I read the passage again with fresh eyes. What I see today is a beautiful display of prophecy fulfilled. Matthew’s entire gospel is rich with examples of prophecies that have been completed.
Jesus was their king. He is our king. He is the supreme ruler. Yet he humbled himself. Did he arrive in Jerusalem with lots of pomp and circumstance? Did a large brass band announce his arrival? No. Jesus did not rule over us with majesty of earthly measure. His reign is eternal. His power is without limit. Jesus showed us how to love and serve.
This triumphant celebration as Jesus enters Jerusalem must have been quite a spectacular event. The whole city was talking. Who was this man? Certainly, he was popular. The procession was fit for a king, all but the donkey part. Jerusalem was not expecting a king to arrive for Passover. Were they?
I had to wonder, too, what was Jesus feeling? He knew what was coming. His sense of dread must have been mingled with happiness or even surprise. He knew the prophecy, but to feel the love and see how it played out must have been a bit overwhelming. I hope he felt the love.
How about the disciples? They were probably even more convinced now that Jesus was wrong about his fate in Jerusalem. Look at the crowds. They were displaying such reverence to their king. How in the world could things ever change such that Jesus would be killed? It had to seem incredible, just like it does to us still today.
Did anything particular stand out to you in this reading? One final thought for me is the fact there were two animals. What happened to the other donkey? Of course, I checked in with David, my pastor and scholar husband. He got out his Hebrew version. The other Gospel accounts have one donkey. Matthew’s account seems to have interpreted two animals are referenced in the prophecy.
Matthew probably wasn’t one of the disciples with the instructions to get the donkey. In his attempt to write about Scripture fulfilled, he made an incorrect assumption. Do we ever do that? Is it a problem? No, but I had to share my reflection.
Our take away today–Jesus is king – today, tomorrow, forever.
Let’s pray. Lord, forgive me when I get stuck on little details. In my head I believe you want us to ask you questions. You want us to understand. You also want us to trust. Thank you that you have used Matthew to bring his version of things. The message is still there. Jesus’ life on earth fulfills prophecy, and he models for us humility and servanthood that we can seek to follow. Lord, help me be a better leader to bring your truth alive for others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.