Things To Think About When Preaching Palm Sunday (Horse Thievery Addressed)

1. Everything that happens on Palm Sunday is contextual. The palms, colt, and clothing must be understood in their larger Biblical context. They are present for a reason. Those reasons may be large or small. Whatever the case, they matter to the overall outcome. Do not discount small or traditional elements because they appear insignificant or overly familiar.

2. Yes, Jesus asks his disciples to take an equine (of some nature). The owners have no foreknowledge of this request. It’s OK to point out the strangeness of two men walking off with a horse without first asking then offering a vague religious explanation to the befuddled owners as to why they need the horse. In the American West, you could be hung for such an offense. It’s weird. We should be free to say so. Keep pushing and look for the bigger picture.

3. Jesus is lifted onto the colt. I always saw Jesus as a board his own horse kind of Messiah. Just saying.

4. There are no Palms in Luke’s Palm Sunday Gospel. What craziness!

5. Does this mean that Palm Sunday is about more than the Psalms? Yes. Much the same way The Force is more than lightsabers. You get the point.

6. We focus on one moment of one day. There is a group of people running after and alongside Jesus’ procession toward the Temple. They are shouting and praising, laying their cloaks along the road, and according to some waving palms. This is our image of Palm Sunday. The triumphal entry of Jesus, his disciples, and followers into Jerusalem. We’ll recreate that singular moment as children process down the aisles of our sanctuaries waving palms and singing “Hosanna in the Highest.” Imagine what we’ve missed about Palm Sunday by focusing on one instance of one day? What else is happening that we’ve failed to see? Jesus is heading toward the Temple. Why are we caught so off guard when he arrives at the Temple? It shocks us when he turns over the tables. We’ve missed most everything happening around us.

7. What we miss is dependent on our perspective.  If you change your perspective, you might see Palm Sunday from the view of a Roman Soldier, Pharisee, a Temple dove seller, a woman following Jesus, a leper, or even Pontius Pilate.  Different perspectives matter.

8. Remember, Jesus is NOT marching against Judaism.

9. There’s another parade on the other side of town led by Pontius Pilate. You might want to make a comparison. Yes, at the same time as Jesus is walking in from the east; Caesar’s army is marching in from the west.

10. The people from the margins, those following Jesus, are finally coming to the center of religious life. That’s a huge deal that gets lost in all the palms.

Richard Lowell Bryant

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