Saturday 2nd March 2024 Reverend Walt Johnson

Saturday, 2 March 2024 
 

St Mark 11: 1 – 11

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it.  If anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?” just say this, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.”’  They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it,  some of the bystanders said to them, ‘What are you doing, untying the colt?’  They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it.  Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it.  Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields.  Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Reflection

As we begin to read through the events of Holy Week, all four Gospels recount the events, each in its own way. Our recollection and understanding is likely to be a merging-together (or synthesis) of these.

But what does Mark tell us? Seven of the eleven verses in today’s reading are about the colt/donkey.

We tend to read Jesus’ knowledge of the donkey as divine foresight. It could have been a prior undocumented arrangement Jesus made with the owner. In Mark, it is bystanders who challenge the disciples about taking the donkey – the mention of Jesus’ words is sufficient to allay their concerns.

The donkey is tied up in the street, so he/she is probably familiar with the human noise and bustle. (I am deliberately writing “he/she” as a reminder that we are discussing a living, feeling animal, part of God’s creation, who is more than the fulfilment of a prophecy about Jesus.)

Maybe the donkey was used to carrying things on his/her back, but today was a new experience: someone got on his/her back and rode! Did the donkey try to shake Jesus off? Or readily go where Jesus led?

The journey from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem is about 3km on hilly terrain, probably quite a strain for a young donkey carrying a human for the first time.

The donkey was used to walking on stony ground. Today, there were cloaks and leafy branches. Did the donkey want to pause for a snack? Did he/she pee or poop on those cloaks, no doubt to much annoyance from the cloaks’ owners? Was he/she frightened by the shouting, wanting to run away?

And once Jesus had reached the Temple, who took the donkey back home – as promised?

And a thought about those shouting “hosanna” – we tend to assume that they were the very same people who five days later were shouting “crucify”. Every crowd comprises individuals, each made in the image of God in all diversity, each with their own thoughts and feelings.

Prayer

Creator God,
as we read through familiar passages,
inspire us afresh through Your Spirit,
that we might always encounter You in new ways.
Open our eyes and minds and hearts
to behold Your love for us in creation –
the plants, the animals and each individual. Amen.

P.S. If you are preparing worship for Palm Sunday, I can recommend
Rejoice & Sing 210 (by Fred Kaan) – We Have A King Who Rides A Donkey.
Meaningful and fun to sing!

 

 

Today’s writer

The Rev’d Walt Johnson, serves in the Bolton & Salford Missional Partnership in the North-Western Synod.

 

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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