Palm Sunday B


Featured Musician: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Tasty Wafer:Holy Week Round Table 2015

Exegetical Notes

Mark 11:1-11 and John 12:12-16

Initial Thoughts

  • Two versions of the same story, remarkably similar.

  • Small differences are telling in the greater theology of each.

    • Mark - Coming Kingdom

    • John - Jesus is King

Bible Study

  • Colt

    • Colt is a name for a young donkey or a young horse. Matthew says it is a donkey and a horse, but John points back to Zechariah 9:9 which tells of a king coming "humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."

    • Jesus behaving like a King

      • The Colt that “no one has ridden” is a Kingly prerogative.

      • Disciples are to go and “obtain” a horse. They follow without question.

      • If they are pressed, they are to exercise his authority.

      • Disciples are asked to make a great act of faith on behalf of Jesus’ authority.

    • Mike Baughman has another interesting take on the “colt that no one has ridden”

      • An unridden colt would be unneutered and untrained. Riding and unbroken donkey would be a dangerous task, and the exact opposite of what a conqueror would ride - a trained and seasoned war horse.

      • Jesus coming to Jerusalem in a new way - with a new ride. He is bringing in an untamed, unknown way of doing things.

  • Zechariah 9

    • eschatological proclamation which “breaks” the militarism of human nations and will “speak peace to the nations”

    • Not a foretelling the coming of Jesus but the coming of a divine kingdom (on earth as it is in Heaven) ruled by God not by human interests

      • Mighty will be brought low and the low will be exalted- for the purpose of liberation and peace

      • What does God want? Zech. 8:16-17 “Speak the truth to each other; make truthful, just, and peaceable decisions within your gates.Don't plan evil for each other. Don't adore swearing falsely

  • Proclamation

    • Hosanna - “save us” - translated in the Psalm, but remains in the Gospels

    • Proclamation alludes to Psalm 118 and the steadfast love of God

    • What do we want to be saved from? what to be saved for?

    • Both Gospels share “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” then they take slightly different angles.

      • Mark: “Blessings on the coming of our ancestor David.

        • The theme of the coming Kingdom is an important one in Mark. Does not point as much to the person of Jesus as it does to the Kingdom that is at hand.

      • John: “Blessings on the King of Israel”

        • The theme of Jesus being the “King of Israel” is an important one in John as the passion plays out. Pilate asks, “Are you the King of the Jews?” The sign above his head on the cross reads “King of the Jews.”

  • Branches?

    • practical application - to keep the honored guest above the messiness of the road, but Jesus enters into the messiness of life.

Sermon Thoughts

  • Save us! Too often we proclaim these same words in a variety of ways- Jesus does not enter to save the Jews from the Romans, but to save people from themselves. Instead of expecting to be saved from outside influences- how might we invite Jesus in to save us from ourselves (inclinations away from God)?

  • The parade Jesus sparks is a new kind of parade. It is not the conquering hero entering the city, or the Emperor coming in on the war horse. As he enters, the people recognize that he is a king, but he is a different kind of king.

  • Are we content to enter with Jesus into the messiness of life or do we try to raise ourselves, Jesus and the church “above” the messiness of life?

  • Zechariah proclaims the Reign of God as one where God subdues all the nations- one nation does not bring about God’s will but instead all nations including Judah are subjected to God’s reign of peace. How do we practice humble repentance.

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

Initial thoughts

  • Psalm Song - "Into Your Hands" by Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

  • Lectionary selection for both Palm Sunday and Easter for all three years, though the selected verses overlap.  

    • Both weeks read the intro v 1-2: “Give thanks to the LORD because he is good, because his faithful love lasts forever. Let Israel say it: "God's faithful love lasts forever!" (CEB)

    • v 24-29 overlap

      • “This is the day the LORD acted; we will rejoice and celebrate in it! LORD, please save us! LORD, please let us succeed! The one who enters in the LORD's name is blessed; we bless all of you from the LORD's house. The LORD is God! He has shined a light on us! So lead the festival offering with ropes all the way to the horns of the altar. You are my God—I will give thanks to you! You are my God—I will lift you up high! Give thanks to the LORD b ecause he is good, because his faithful love lasts forever.”

Bible Study

  • Psalm 118’s place in Ancient Hebrew worship is debated.  One theory is that this was a Psalm that “celebrated the re-enthronement of the Davidic monarch” (James Newsome on p 232 of Texts for Preaching, Year A).

    • Fits Palm Sunday as an enthronement psalm, when Jesus is acting as a new kind of King in his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

  • End of what Clint McCann calls the Hallel collection (113-118) which came to be used at Passover.

    • Can also be seen in context of Israel’s return from exile.  It’s use is versatile, as thanksgiving, victory.

  • Tone and emotions of the Psalm are all over the place.  Lots of praise, also distress, so the lection tries to cut it up to make it fit Palm Sunday and Easter.

  • “A psalm of thanksgiving sung by one who has been to the edge of the abyss and who has been delivered by God” (James Newsome on p 231 of Texts for Preaching, Year A).

  • Non Palm Sunday section

    • v 1-4 Call to Worship - Let all say “God’s steadfast love endures forever”

    • v 5-13 I was in distress, but God saved.

    • v 14-18 God is victorious

      • salvation, victory, valiant, strength

  • v 19-24 Procession

    • In midst of procession is reminder of the failure that preceded this celebration

      • v. 22 - The stone that was rejected has become the cornerstone.

    • The people have come to celebrate, but it is the Lord that is taking action

      • v. 24 This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad.

      • This is the proper order - Acknowledge God’s action, then rejoice.

  • v 25-29 Call for salvation and thanksgiving

    • Ending verse mirrors the opening

      • 118:29 “Give thanks to the LORD because he is good, because his faithful love lasts forever”

Preaching Thoughts

  • Pattern of praise and petition affirm God’s sovereignty.  More realistic as a whole psalm, instead of chopping it up.  Isn’t most of life full of both praise and petition?

  • Powerful as communal prayer and individual promise.  Martin Luther called it “My own beloved psalm.” (Clint McCann, New Interpreter’s Bible, v. IV, p. 1156).

Holy Week Talk

  • Go with Lectionary or stick to one Gospel per year?

  • Lectionary is John every year

    • Thur - John 13:1-17, 31b-35

    • Fri - John 18:1-19:42

Maundy Thursday

Good Friday

  • In one tweet answer: “What is good about it?”

  • Tell the story - Don’t Gloss it over

  • Crucifixion - historical

    • Cross probably not more than ten feet high

    • Jesus completely naked, exposed along a busy road

    • Feet probably not together on the bottom of the cross, but spread on each side.

    • Resource about crucifixions in history: Stuff You Missed in History Podcast

    • Leave it uncomfortable and open ended

  • Crucifixion – part of life, not a historical execution

    • We experience crucifixion, pain, death, agony

  • Earthquake- recalls “Jerusalem in Turmoil” from Palm Sunday

  • Seven Last Words

    • Luke 23:34:      Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.

    • Luke 23:43:      Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.

    • John 19:26-27: Woman, behold your son. Behold your mother.

    • Matthew 27:46:   My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

    • John 19:28:       I am thirsty.

    • Luke 23:46:      Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.

    • John 19:30:       It is... finished.

  • Jesus Barabbas or Jesus Christ.

    • Do we want Jesus, son of the father, a more human and perhaps understandable Jesus or Jesus the Christ the Messiah, the Savior - which says that we need to be saved.

    • Jesus the Messiah is not an ethical teacher, but a savior from God

  • Liturgy



Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (,@pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).