Lectionary Reflection for Palm Sunday

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 21:1-11:

Jesus and the disciples come near to Jerusalem, reaching Bethphage and the Mount of Olives. This will be the staging area for Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

It is a triumphal entry, but one that parodies the entry of kings and their armies. This is the entry of the one who has come to serve, but that he has come to serve makes him no less a king.

The great King David went to the Mount of Olives in grief because of Absalom’s conspiracy against him (2 Sam. 15:30–31). Yet in Zech. 14:1–5 the Mount of Olives is the place where the Lord declares he will stand in order to defeat those who have gathered against Jerusalem. From that mount the Lord will become king over all the earth, forever securing Jerusalem from destruction.

Jesus stands on the Mount of Olives as one in mourning for Jerusalem, but also as its priest-king destined to bring all nations to the recognition of the God of David.

Accordingly, Jesus tells two of his disciples to “go” into the village ahead of them, where they will find a donkey tied with her colt. They are to untie the donkey and colt and bring them to Jesus. If anyone asks what they are doing, they are to say that “the Lord needs them,” and they will be sent with the donkey and colt back to Jesus.

Jesus identifies himself as the Lord, but one that will ride on an ass, a creature not normally associated with what it means to be a king. Victors in battle do not ride into their capital cities riding on asses, but rather they ride on fearsome horses.

But this king does not and will not triumph through force of arms.


©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.