Bible Study that Doesn't Suck: Palm Sunday

Updated: Apr 15



Read all four Gospel versions here


Notes:

Book of Zechariah (9:9) and states: "All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. Traditionally, entering the city on a donkey symbolizes arrival in peace, rather than as a war-waging king arriving on a horse.


The Coming Ruler of God’s People

Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! 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. 10 He[c] will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war-horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

11 As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. 12 Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double. 13 For I have bent Judah as my bow; I have made Ephraim its arrow. I will arouse your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, and wield you like a warrior’s sword.

14 Then the Lord will appear over them, and his arrow go forth like lightning; the Lord God will sound the trumpet and march forth in the whirlwinds of the south. 15 The Lord of hosts will protect them, and they shall devour and tread down the slingers;[d] they shall drink their blood[e] like wine, and be full like a bowl, drenched like the corners of the altar.

16 On that day the Lord their God will save them for they are the flock of his people; for like the jewels of a crown they shall shine on his land. 17 For what goodness and beauty are his! Grain shall make the young men flourish, and new wine the young women.


Mark 11:1-11AD 66–70- passive Jesus

· Disciples steal a colt

· Colt no one has ridden

· Jesus does not say he is the King - ‘Its master needs it, and he will send it back right away.'"

· Clothes on the colt

· People laid their cloaks and small branches of trees in front of him, singing part of Psalm 118: 25–26 – Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord

· Jesus goes to the temple then returns to Bethany

Luke 19:28-44 - AD 85–90 – Jesus passive – disciples provoking

· Colt no one has ridden

· Jesus does not say he is the King - ‘Its master needs it, and he will send it back right away.'"

· Disciples steal a colt - the owner of the colt asks what they are doing

· People laid their clothes – no branches or palms -singing part of Psalm 118: 25–26 – Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord

· Only in Luke - Some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, scold your disciples! Tell them to stop!" 40 He answered, "I tell you, if they were silent, the stones would shout." 41 As Jesus came to the city and observed it, he wept over it. 42 He said, "If only you knew on this of all days the things that lead to peace. But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 The time will come when your enemies will build fortifications around you, encircle you, and attack you from all sides. 44 They will crush you completely, you and the people within you. They won't leave one stone on top of another within you, because you didn't recognize the time of your gracious visit from God." - direct reference to the desalating sacralige which is in another

· In Luke 19:41 as Jesus approaches Jerusalem, he looks at the city and weeps over it

Matthew 21:1-11- AD 85–90 -

· Disciples steal a donkey and a colt and put clothes on it

· Jesus does not say he is the King - ‘Its master needs it, and he will send it back right away.'"

· Zechariah 9:9 "The Coming of Zion's King – See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey"

· Jesus rides both a donkey and a colt (do to translation confusion) – Jesus sits on both?? Impossible – but a great metaphor - donkey may refer to the Eastern tradition that it is an animal of peace, unlike the horse which is the animal of war – this would have been done by a King

· People laid their clothes and palm branches in front of him, singing part of Psalm 118: 25– 26 – Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord

John 12:12-19- AD 90–110

· Crowd came for a festival – greet Jesus with palm leaves instead of their ruler. They shouted, "Hosanna! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessings on the king of Israel!"

· 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him.

· No stealing - Jesus finds a young donkey

· Disciples do not understand - His disciples didn't understand these things at first. After he was glorified, they remembered that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.

· Victory over death - The crowd who had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead were testifying about him. 18 That's why the crowd came to meet him, because they had heard about this miraculous sign that he had done.

· Jealous Pharisees- 19 Therefore, the Pharisees said to each other, "See! You've accomplished nothing! Look! The whole world is following him!"

About the Palm Procession –

The walk from the mount of Olives to the temple – is less than a mile, but it is very steep downhill. Zechariah 14:4 states that the Messiah would come to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives - Jesus traveled by way of Bethphage. Usually the paschal lamb was brought from Bethphage and led to the Temple mount.[3]


In ancient Egyptian religion, the palm was carried in funeral processions and represented eternal life. The martyr's palm was later used as a symbol of Christian martyrs and their spiritual victory or triumph over death.[18] In Revelation 7:9, the white-clad multitude stand before the throne and Lamb holding palm branches.


Palms as a sign of water - The first reference to the date palm is when the children of Israel entered the desert after leaving Egypt (Exodus 15:27). The palm was prominent in the decoration of the temple.


Palms as major symbol of the temple - In I Kings 6 and also II Chronicles 3, we find that the walls of the temple were adorned with palm trees. No mention is made of any palm in the tabernacle and it may be instructive to consider this difference. Unlike the tabernacle, the temple is the established place for the dwelling of God on earth. It could not be built until there was peace (I Kings 5:3-4), that is, until the kingdom was firmly and righteously established in the hand of Solomon. The palm tree has an even greater role in the temple of Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 40 we find that the palm tree was inscribed upon the posts of the chambers, the gate, and the posts of various gates.

In Jewish tradition, the palm is one of the Four Species carried for Sukkot, as prescribed for rejoicing at Leviticus 23:40. Sukkot is a 7 day (if live in Israel, 8 in diaspora) harvest festival – and a reminder of the fragile homes people lived in during the Exodus.

Alternatives for stay at home orders:

Palms come from Roman understandings of military victory – perhaps it’s time to change it up

Russian orthodox church uses pussywillows - There is no canonical requirement as to what kind of branches must be used, so some Orthodox believers use olive branches. Whatever the kind, these branches are blessed and distributed together with candles

In Bulgaria this is celebrated as flower day

In England jack-o-lantern figures were burned on fire – now it is a time to decorate graves

In Finland and Syria children dress up as Easter witches and give out coins, candy and pussywillow branches

Italy and the Middle East celebrate with both palm and olive branches

In Lithuania they use spruce branches

In the Philippines children dress as angels and scatter flowers – these flowers are scattered with the planting of rice as they are planted


Additional Resources:

* Sukkot

* Mount Olives to the Temple - though likely would have gone past Gethsemane and directly to the Temple. It was a very short distance.

* Palm Sunday traditions around the world - learn about ways you can modify Palm Sunday while you are home bound.

©2019 by the Rev. Dr. Megan Rohrer