Our Matthew readings over the next few days will take us into Holy Week and eventually into Easter. If you want to stick to the liturgical year instead of jumping ahead try reading some of what we have posted over on our daily devotional page.
A reflection on Matthew 21:1-17, by our Assistant Program Director, Angie Smith.
I grew up in a religious setting which prided itself on Biblical literacy. There was a real fear that at some point the Anti-Christ and his followers would come and take their bibles away. I memorized a lot of Bible verses growing up. However, I realized in college that I was incredibly Biblically illiterate. Sure, I had a bunch of verses memorized, but I didn’t have a context to put them in.
It was during my sophomore year around Holy Week, I was putting together a small service with a bunch of young adults at the church I was attending at the time. We were discussing Palm Sunday, it was around that table full of good friends, good food, and good beer that I realized I didn’t know the story of Palm Sunday. Sure, I knew the general story, but I didn’t know the differences in the Gospel telling’s of the story. I was a little floored but determined to do better in the future.
Our reading for today is Palm Sunday. As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t have a good grasp of this story growing up. I had a general idea of what happened. Jesus sent the disciples to get a donkey, the crowd took off their cloaks and put them on the ground, everyone shouted Hosanna, and the Pharisees became very upset with Jesus. If you didn’t do a close reading of today’s text before reading this reflection, pause and go do so. Really read the text, pay attention to the details. If you have a study Bible check out the foot notes.
Now that you’ve closely read Matthew, go and closely read Zechariah 9:9. How many donkeys are there (remember this is a poetic text)? Now go back to Matthew, how many donkeys are there? How many donkeys does the version of this story you remember have? Remember, yesterday when we talked about the disciples make mistakes? This is one of those times. The writer of Matthew made a mistake and so we have the disciples going off to find more animals than required to fulfill the prophecy. And that’s ok. It doesn’t change the meaning of Palm Sunday, but it should call us to be more aware of the wider context of out readings, regardless of what we think we know.
Keep reading closely, if you have questions reach out to me through email (firstname.lastname@example.org). And no matter how bad things get know that we will see each other again and together we proclaim “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”