Tomorrow will be our third week without our meeting together for worship. It looks like it will be a few more weeks before we can meet. This year seemed to be going really quickly, then we hit a brick wall, now it drags so slowly. Although not meeting together and worshipping leaves a big hole in our lives, even more so is the missing of the components of worship and the means of grace (sacraments, preaching, prayer together, and fellowship). And the special days of the church calendar.
Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. Then this “Holy Week” also brings Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and culminates in Easter Sunday. We say that every Sunday is a celebration of the Easter day events of the resurrection, but face it, we like to have special days where we can get dressed in our Easter best clothes, women in bonnets, and greet each other with, “He has risen!” and “He has risen indeed!” But wait, that is next week’s topic.
What do you remember of the Palm Sunday story, also called the Triumphal Entry? I immediately think of Jesus on a donkey, coming into Jerusalem, with crowds of people placing palm fronds (the ones in my yard have thorns; didn’t that hurt?) on the pathway and shouting Hosanna, Hosanna. They were laying down coats (or cloaks?). Oh, and the disciples went ahead and untied and took the donkey, only getting permission after they started walking away with it. Sketchy information like this is what I remember, and why at certain times of the year, I reread certain portions of the Bible: The Christmas Story in December; the Last Supper, Jesus’ last day, burial, resurrection during “Holy week;” and so on.
So, what do you remember about Palm Sunday? It appears in all four Gospel Books. The story is basically the same in each, but there are differences. I think we mostly have heard Mark’s version, which seems a little more complete. One has a donkey with a colt, the others have a colt only. Other variations include cleansing the temple before leaving town or not cleansing it, two entries vs. one, Pharisees griping or not, people remembering Lazarus or not, etc.
There was one more thing that stuck in my memory: That the disciples did not understand this whole thing until after Jesus rose. Reminds me of these troubled times right now for us. I know there is a reason for it but I don’t know what it is. I hope someday when this is over, or someday in Heaven, I will learn its meaning, and I pray every night that the pandemic furthers Christ’s kingdom and Glory.
Now, read the Triumphal Entry story. If you have several people together, try reading one version and the others following along in other Gospels. They are short, won’t take long, and may surprise you. (By the way, I think you may find that only by combining all four, you can get a full understanding of the story. And all four fit together as if Someone told the writers what portion of the story each should write!)
The Triumphal Entry:
—Elder Tom Sharp