Did you know that only the Gospel of John mentions Palm branches? In Mark, the disciples cut leaves from the field (as translated from the Greek). In the Gospel of Matthew, they cut branches from trees. And in the Gospel of Luke, there is no mention of branches. But where did this whole idea of carrying or waving branches come from?
Some scholars suggest that the actions, as described in John, resemble one of the standard processions of Tabernacles where people carried twigs of myrtle, willow, and palm on the first day of the Feast of the Tabernacles to build booths (Nehemiah 8:13-18). These were reminders of the portable dwelling place for the divine presence during the Exodus. Later some of twigs, at least, were bound together into a sort of festal plume, called the lulab, to which a citron was also attached. The lulab, a symbol of rejoicing, was carried during the daily singing of the Hallel (Psalms 113-118).
As you read Mark 11:1-11 what shimmers for you?
This morning’s reading the words, “on which no one has sat” repeated in my mind. This must be a special ride or a special person. This could also be a Mishnah instruction that “no one may use an animal on which a king rides” (Evans, Craig, The Lectionary Commentary, 267). Another clue, or piece of knowledge, that in and through this action, Jesus is assuming a kingly right or privilege by riding a colt that was never ridden. These words also gave me pause, as they are familiar words. Later in Luke and John, we hear the words, “where no one has ever been laid” in reference to finding a burial tomb for Jesus.
I love the scripture readings for Holy Week—as I like seeing in detail how they connect, compliment, and collide into each other.
Did you make a connection? What part of this story drew you in? Can you see or picture self in this narrative, if so where?