Reflecting on the Gospel for Palm Sunday

From The Gospel of Mark by Mary Healy, commenting on Mark 11:7–9:

Why did Jesus choose to ride a colt, when most pilgrims would enter the city on foot? It was a prophetic gesture, fulfilling the messianic prophecy of Zechariah: “Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass” (Zech 9:9). The lowly animal shows that he, the King of glory (see Ps 24:7-10), comes in humility and peace, not as a warrior-king mounted on a stallion to lead a rebellion against Rome. It is also reminiscent of the royal procession of Solomon, the son of David, who rode a mule into the city at his coronation (1 Kings 1:32-34). Jesus knew what he was about, even if those around him did not yet realize its significance.

Jesus’ triumphal entry takes place among thousands of pilgrims arriving in the Holy City for the feast of Passover (14:1). There is a sense of excitement and elation, as the crowd around him shouts for joy and spontaneously shows him signs of honor. To spread cloaks on the road was a gesture of homage before a newly crowned king (see 2 Kings 9:13). . . . The crowd chants from Ps 118:2526: Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! This psalm, originally a royal song of thanksgiving for a military victory, was one of the great hymns sung by pilgrims processing into the temple for a festival. Jesus will later apply it specifically to his coming passion and resurrection (Mark 12:10-11).

© 2008 Mary Healy and Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.



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