Friday, March 26, 2010

Hosanna in the Highest

This is downloaded from my previous blog which has been discontinued.  Note that the original posting (26 March 2010) was in purple font but since the background for this blog is black, I have to use a different colour.


Since, this is Lent, I thought I should get my vestment colours right.  As we approach Holy Week, we might want to pause and consider what the Holy Gospels tell us about the event that we now celebrate as Palm Sunday.

We are told in all four Gospels that Jesus rode on a donkey into Jerusalem.  This is meant to be a fulfilment of prophecy.  The prophecy is in Zechariah 9:9 which reads:

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
       Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
       See, your king comes to you,
       righteous and having salvation,
       gentle and riding on a donkey,
       on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

This is obviously written in poetic form in which parallelism is employed - the "donkey" in one line and "donkey" is again reflected in the second line.

Anyone who is familiar with Hebrew poetic form will know that only one donkey is "prophesied".
So, we read in Mark 11:1-7:

 1As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3If anyone asks you, 'Why are you doing this?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.' "  4They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5some people standing there asked, "What are you doing, untying that colt?" 6They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.
Notice the words in emphasis - only one donkey was procured for Jesus and only one donkey was laid with cloaks and only one donkey was sat on by the Lord.

Luke 19:28-35 says the same thing.  Only one animal is taken to our Lord and he sat on only one animal.

The story in John 12:14 is slightly different.  The disciples were not sent to get a donkey for Jesus.  Jesus "found the donkey" but apologists will of course come up with a hundred excuses to gloss over this difference.  But it's still one animal we are talking about.  The essential part of John 12:14 reads:
14Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it

So far so good.  Only one animal is specifically mentioned.  Nobody is fooled by the quaint parallelism in Hebrew poetry.

But alas, the writer of the Gospel of Matthew didn't fare so well.  Let's read what he says in Matthew 21:1-7:
 1As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away."
 4This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
 5"Say to the Daughter of Zion,
      'See, your king comes to you,
   gentle and riding on a donkey,
      on a colt, the foal of a donkey.' "
 6The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.
Which of course leads to a comical entry into Jerusalem for our Lord.  Jesus riding on both a donkey and a colt!  How he balanced himself was no doubt evidence that divine miracle came into play.

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