OUR SUNDAY VISITOR
The passion of our Lord Jesus Christ
Gospel: Mark 14:1-15:47
- The Passion story from the Gospel according to Mark shows Jesus to us as the suffering servant portrayed in the prophecy of Isaiah.
- Mark places Jesus’ suffering and death in the context of the Passover meal which draws on Jewish theology.
- In Mark’s account of the Passion, Jesus is alone with no one to comfort him as he approaches the ultimate sacrifice.
SOURCE: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor
Feasting on the Word
Street theater & political satire
Preachers need to take seriously the fact that only a few verses in Mark (vv. 8–11a) actually recount Jesus’ entry into the city. Most of the story (vv. 1–7) relates the care with which Jesus has made the arrangements for this event. These verses give evidence that Jesus has planned the entire occasion in advance. He has arranged for the colt and even provided signals for the disciples to use with the people watching the colt. Jesus knows exactly what he is doing. He is carefully orchestrating a piece of “street theater.”In his street theater, Jesus enacts a carnivalesque parody of kingship. He begins at the Mount of Olives (v. 1), the traditional location from which people expected the final battle for Jerusalem’s liberation would begin. From this traditional location, Jesus begins his “final campaign.” When he sends out for provisions, however, the situation becomes rather strange. The provisions he seeks are not the weapons of war, but simply a colt (not even a full-grown donkey in Mark!). Jesus goes to take possession of Jerusalem unarmed and riding on a colt. When Jesus does finally enter the city, he enjoys all the trappings of a great military procession for a triumphant national hero. The people participating in the event do everything a victorious military leader would expect. In actions that would have been considered treasonous by the empire, the crowd spreads branches and cloaks before Jesus as a symbol of honor. They praise him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” “God saves.” “Long live the King!” And Jesus rides through the midst of the adoring crowds. The whole time, however, Jesus is turning imperial notions of power and rule on their head. His theater is a humorous piece of political satire. In his “triumphal entry” Jesus lampoons the “powers that be” and their pretensions to glory and dominion, and he enacts an alternative to their way of domination. Riding on the colt, his feet possibly dragging on the ground, Jesus comes not as one who lords his authority over others, but as one who humbly rejects domination. He comes not with pomp and wealth, but as one identified with the poor. He comes not as a mighty warrior, but as one who is vulnerable and refuses to rely on violence. Jesus here takes the role of a jester, who enacts in a humorous, disorienting way a totally different understanding of “rule” and invites people to see and live in the world in a new way. The event takes on the air of a carnival—think of a procession by a New Orleans jazz band—where those on the bottom of society festively unmask and challenge the dominant social order.
SOURCE: Content taken from FEASTING ON THE WORD, YEAR B (12 Volume Set); David L. Bartlett (Editor); Copyright © 2011. Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved.
Jesus’ entry different from Mohammad’s
In no other manner are the differences between Muslims and Christians more sharply contrasted than in the difference between the characters and legacies of their prophets. Perhaps the contrast is best symbolized by the way Mohammad entered Mecca and Jesus entered Jerusalem. Mohammad rode into Mecca on a warhorse, surrounded by 400 mounted men and 10,000 foot soldiers. Those who greeted him were absorbed into his movement; those who resisted him were vanquished, killed, or enslaved. Mohammad conquered Mecca, and took control as its new religious, political, and military leader. Today, in the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, Mohammad’s purported sword is proudly on display. . . .Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, accompanied by his 12 disciples. He was welcomed and greeted by people waving palm fronds—a traditional sign of peace. Jesus wept over Jerusalem because the Jews mistook him for an earthly, secular king who was to free them from the yoke of Rome, whereas, Jesus came to establish a much different, heavenly kingdom. Jesus came by invitation and not by force.
SOURCE: Content taken from CHRIST-CENTERED EXPOSITION COMMENTARY (32 Volumes); David Platt, Daniel L. Akin, and Tony Merida (Editors); Copyright © 2013-16. Holman Reference. All rights reserved.
The Biblical Imagination
Jesus’ choice of a donkey colt
The choice of a donkey’s colt was symbolic of a king coming in peace. If, when a city was conquered, the victorious monarch approached riding a white warhorse, the inhabitants knew he was coming to judge and destroy the city. If he approached on a donkey’s colt, they knew he was coming in peace (see Zech 9:9). A later rabbinic tradition said that when the Messiah returned, if Israel was not ready, he would ride a donkey’s colt. If Israel was ready, he would ride a white horse. The book of Revelation pictures Jesus’ return on a white horse (Rev 6:2; 19:11)!
SOURCE: Content taken from THE BIBLICAL IMAGINATION (4 Volume Series); Michael Card; Copyright © 2011-14. IVP Books. All rights reserved.
God's Justice Bible
No more concealment
Mark 11:9–10 There is no more attempt to conceal Jesus’ identity as Messiah. The long-awaited time has come. The echoes of Isaiah are here: the prophet of justice and the just king come together in the person of Jesus.
SOURCE: Content taken from GOD'S JUSTICE BIBLE: The flourishing of Creation & the Destruction of Evil notes by Tim Stafford; Copyright © 2016. Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Life Recovery Bible
God does not offer instant cures
Mark 11:1-10 As we suffer the pain of our addiction, we often look for instant relief. We wish someone would come and sweep all our problems away. The Judeans were expecting the same kind of deliverance from their Messiah. They wanted a glorious political king on a warhorse to ride into Jerusalem and sweep the Romans out of power. Instead, Jesus came riding on a lowly donkey, in peace. God does not offer instant cures; he works our recovery through a process of personal growth, from the inside out. He helps us recognize our sins and our need for help, and he gives us the strength to take the necessary steps toward recovery
SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
LIFE APPLICATION STUDY BIBLE
From “Hosanna” to “Crucify Him!”
Mark 11:9, 10 The people exclaimed “Hosanna” (meaning, “Save!”), because they recognized that Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9. (See also Psalm 24:7–10; 118:26.) They spoke of David’s kingdom because of God’s words to David in 2 Samuel 7:12–14. The crowd correctly saw Jesus as the fulfillment of these prophecies, but they did not understand where Jesus’ kingship would lead him. This same crowd cried out “Crucify him!” when Jesus stood on trial only a few days later.Mark 11:10 Like those who witnessed Jesus’ victory parade into Jerusalem, we have expectations for what we think God should do to make life better, safer, and more enjoyable. Like excited spectators, we can’t wait to see suffering stopped, injustice corrected, and prosperity begun. Like the people on the road to Jerusalem that day, we have much to learn about Jesus’ death and resurrection. We must not let our personal desires catch us up in the celebration and shouting lest we miss the meaning of true discipleship. In our excitement and celebration, we must remember that following Christ involves hardships. It may include suffering, even death.
SOURCE: Content taken from LIFE APPLICATION STUDY BIBLE NOTES, Copyright © 2019. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
CATHOLIC Bible Study
The Messiah’s Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem
by Michal Hunt (Agape Bible Study)
At the beginning of Holy Week, the celebration of Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem and the remembrance of His unjust execution will lead us to our Easter celebration of Christ’s glorious resurrection from the grave. In the Passion, we relive Jesus’ last hours that ended with His betrayal and agony on the Cross. Crowned with thorns, He died the “King of the Jews” (Mk 15:18; Jn 19:19-22) Jesus is the Davidic Messiah-King who fulfills the eternal covenant God made with His ancestor David (2 Sam 7:16, 29; 23:5; 2 Chr 13:5; Ps 89:2-5; Sir 45:25) and whose coming God’s holy prophets prophesied. However, as we make our journey through the days of this week to Good Friday, we must remember that Jesus accepted this unspeakable suffering and violence out of love for us.
Fulfillment of the prophets
In Mark 11:1-10, Jesus prepared to enter the holy city. He sent two disciples to bring Him an ass and her colt from the village of Bethpage on the Mount of Olives, due east of Jerusalem, on the road to Bethany (also see Mt 21:1; Lk 19:29). This was to fulfill the prophecies of the prophets concerning the restoration of Israel:
- See, the LORD proclaims to the ends of the earth “Say to daughter Zion, your Savior comes!” (Is 62:11).
- Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See [Behold], you king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass (Zech 9:9).
Daughter of Zion
The words “daughter Zion” refers to the holy city of Jerusalem and the covenant people as a whole. According to the prophecies, the Messiah will come not like a conquering king or military leader. He will come humbly as a Savior to His people.
The day after Jesus’ dinner with Lazarus’ family
The Gospel of John identifies this event as occurring on the day after Jesus’ dinner with Lazarus’ family (Jn 12:1-2, 12-19). John 12:1 identifies the dinner as six days (as the ancients counted with no zero place value) before the Passover sacrifice, commanded by the Law to take place on the 14th of Nisan (Lev 23:4-5; Num 28:16). Therefore, Jesus had a Sabbath Saturday dinner with friends in Bethany. Six days from Saturday, with Saturday counting as day #1, makes the day of the Passover sacrifice Thursday of Jesus’ last week, Nisan the 14th. Therefore, the day He rode into Jerusalem was the first day of the week that we call Sunday. That the Passover sacrifice took place on Thursday and the sacred meal that night after sundown agrees with over 2,000 years of Christian tradition. Jesus was crucified the next day on Friday that was “preparation day” for the Saturday Sabbath (Jn 19:31).
A young donkey that had never been ridden
The disciples followed Jesus’ instructions and brought a young donkey that had never been ridden. They laid garments on the animal and Jesus sat on the garments on the colt. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on the colt of an ass was a planned and highly symbolic act. Jesus’ symbolic act fulfilled the prophecy of the covenant with David that his throne would endure forever with a Davidic heir upon his throne (2 Sam 7:12-16; 23:5).
The people were reminded of the ride of King David’s son Solomon into Jerusalem on his coronation day (1 Kng 1:38-40) and recognized Jesus’ symbolic act: Those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mk 11:9-10), and “Hosanna! Blessed is he who is coming in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel” (Jn 12:13).
Jesus as the new Joshua
John’s identification of the Saturday dinner as six days before the 14th makes Saturday the 9th of Nisan. Therefore, Sunday was the 10th. The 10th was the day the Passover victims were chosen in the first Passover event in Egypt, and it was the day Joshua led the children of Israel across the Jordan River in the conquest of the Promised Land (Ex 12:3; Josh 4:19). Jesus is the true Passover victim that all other Passover lambs and kids only prefigured. He is the new Joshua (who had the same name as Jesus in Hebrew). In His entry into Jerusalem, He is beginning His conquest that will result in opening the true Promised Land of heaven to the faithful through His death and Resurrection.
Seeing Jesus, the crowd shouted acclamations from the Messianic Psalms 118:25-26 (NJB) ~ We beg you Yahweh, save us [hosanna], we beg you Yahweh, give us victory! Blessed in the name of Yahweh is he who is coming! As mentioned, “Hosanna” is a word of Hebrew origin (hosi-a-na) that is composed of two words literally meaning “save now” or “save (we) pray” (i.e., 2 Sam 14:4; Ps 106:47; Is 25:9; 37:20; Jer 2:27; etc.). “Hosanna” was used in the same way the English might shout out “God save the king,” and this was the way the crowd shouted “Hosanna” as an acclamation of praise to the one greeted as the Messianic son and heir of King David.
Psalms 113-118 is known as the great Hallel (praise God) psalms. It was also called the Egyptian Psalms since Psalms 113-117 and retells the story of the Exodus while Psalm 118 promises another liberator: an anointed one” or “messiah” coming to save the people.
The parousia of a king
The four Gospels describe Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as the triumphal arrival of a king or military ruler. Such a visit to the people by a ruler was in Greek a parousia, meaning “coming,” “arrival,” or “being present among the people.” In the New Testament, the word gives expression to the Christian belief and expectation that Jesus will return to His people in the future (Second Advent of Christ). It is the same term Christians used for the “presence” of Jesus Christ in the Eucharistic Banquet. The Old Testament describes the parousia of a king in the Greek O.T. translation in:
- 1 Kings 1:32-40 ~ King Solomon of Israel on his coronation day
- Zechariah 9:9 ~ The prophesied arrival of the eschatological Messiah
- 1 Maccabees 5:45-54 ~ Arrival of Judas Maccabee
- 1 Maccabees 13:43-53 ~ Arrival of Simon Maccabee
- 2 Maccabees 4:21-22 ~ Arrival of Antiochus IV [Epiphanes]
As already mentioned, the connection between Jesus’ symbolic entrance and the entrance of King David’s son Solomon into Jerusalem on the day of his coronation in the 10th century BC was certainly not missed on the crowds. Jesus received the same acclamation, with the people even referring to Him as “the son of David,” quoting from Psalm 118 the passages referring to the promised Messianic king (Mk 11:10). St. John records that the crowd quoted from the Messianic Psalms 118:26 ~ Blessed is he who is coming in the name of the Lord … (Jn 12:13; also see 1 Kng 2:38-40; Ps 118:25-27, Jn 12:13). Jesus told His disciples that the day would come when they would not see Him again until they said this verse (Mt 23:39). These are the same words we repeat in the celebration of the Mass just prior to the Eucharistic procession.
Application for us today
The question of some in the crowd as to Jesus’ identity on the day of His triumphal entry is the question facing each of us on this day of commemoration. True disciples recognize Jesus as God’s prophet, priest, and king come to redeem His people and to raise them from death to life (CCC 788). Can you profess with conviction that Jesus not only came on that day in history to begin the completion of His earthly mission but that He has personally come for you and has raised you from death to life in the Sacrament of Baptism so you might hear His voice in your heart and obey Mother Church on your journey to eternal salvation?
The Passion of Jesus Christ
Truly this man was the Son of God
Points to consider
Since the first Gospel is that of Mark, it would be the closest in time to the events that it interprets, including the Passion. That alone makes it a precious witness to ‘what really happened,’ regardless of its perceived literary quality.
We usually divide this lengthy reading among various people, though in many ways a single motivated and prepared lector can send a better focused and more effective message to the assembly than three or four ministers who do not coordinate their efforts.
If I were the sole narrator and speaker of dialog, I would of course keep track of the faith that drove the first Christians to retell this traumatic story over and over. As I pass from scene to scene I discover the details that shed light on the purpose of it all, and its meaning for us today. In this respect Mark and Matthew are in general agreement.
In the narrative of Mark, though, I hear many sharp, vivid details that the later evangelists have smoothed out or deleted. For example, here the woman doesn’t just come with an alabaster jar of costly perfumed oil. We also learn that it was made of costly genuine spikenard, and that she broke the alabaster jar. Another example: the disciples are not going to see a certain man about their ‘Cenacle,’ but according to Mark a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him to his master who will show you a large upper room furnished and ready.
One of the most poignant scenes in the narration comes in Gethsemane, where Mark alone puts the Aramaic plea into Jesus’ mouth: Abba, Father, all things are possible to you.
Mark presents Jesus as someone well aware of all that would happen to him, conscious of convergence with the ancient Scriptures, and ready to bear it all freely. I do not hear elaborations contained in the other evangelists’ later additions: the suicide of Judas, the dream of Pilate’s wife, the conversion of the crucified thief, the parting words to his mother and the beloved disciple, or the appearance of the dead in the city. Mark’s version, the original version, is an unadorned, stark view of what Jesus suffered. I note the trumped-up charges; even the witnesses who agreed with each other took the stand and testified falsely against him.
Of the four Passion narratives, Mark’s carries the least troublesome baggage concerning Christians and Jews. The Sanhedrin held a council and handed him over to Pilate who in his turn handed him over to be crucified.
Climax: a centurion declares Truly this man was the Son of God!
Message for our assembly: remember through all the gory details, more deeply than ever on this Passion Sunday, that Jesus died for us and that he died freely.
I will challenge myself: Not to get in the way of the narrative, but to declare it soberly as it was declared among Mark’s disciples, Jews and Gentiles alike.
Word to Eucharist
Word to Eucharist: We sing the Taize round "Jesus, remember me." Now we should sing silently "Jesus, may we remember you." Is it "Final Four Sunday" or Palm Sunday?
SOURCE: Paul J. Schlachter at LectorWorks.org; Used with permission
The Passion text online
Fom Saint Didacus Church, Sylmar, California, USA:
- Passion according to Mark, 4 voices, Narrator's parts in bold.
The passion needs no introduction.
SOURCE: Greg Warnusz at LectorPrep.org
Jesus speaks about his hour all throughout the Gospel of John. What is it that he is speaking of, and why is it when some Gentiles seek after him that he finally states that his hour has come? Check out this video with Dr. Brant Pitre to learn more about this topic.
WORD ON FIRE
Bishop Barron on Palm Sunday
Another part of a video series from Wordonfire.org. Father Barron will be commenting on subjects from modern day culture.
Jesus, Palm Sunday, and the New Covenant
In this week's Encountering the Word video for Palm Sunday (Year B), Jeff Cavins shows us how Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem was the beginning of his entering into a new covenant with humanity.