simple white fading png image
notre dame montreal

Weekly Bible Notes

Palm Sunday of Lent - Year B

Liturgical Colour - Red


Introduction

Palm Sunday reminds us of how fickle we can all be as human beings. We see the crowd shouting Hosanna, suddenly calling for the death of Jesus. Pontius Pilate is governed by political expediency, Judas betrays Jesus for the prospect of a cash reward. Yet even the best disciples move away from Jesus at his time of need and leave him standing alone before the Jewish authorities. Jesus is abandoned. Time for us then so stand up and be counted, to be prepared to own our faith and acknowledge Jesus.


Yet there is another lesson for us all. Jesus forgives, he shows compassion and understanding for the weakness of those around him. Are we prepared to follow his example of compassion and forgiveness. Are we willing to keep the faith and also be understanding toward those who are weak and find the going difficult ?
 

View a Palm Sunday Service


Opening Verses of Scripture Matthew 21:9

Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!

Collect Prayer for the Day — Before we read we pray

Almighty and everlasting God, who in your tender love towards the human race sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross: grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

True and humble King, hailed by the crowd as Messiah: grant us the faith to know you and love you, that we may be found beside you on the way of the cross, which is the path of glory Common Worship Shorter Collect

Almighty God, by the prayer and discipline of Lent may we enter into the mystery of Christ’s sufferings, and by following in his Way
come to share in his glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Common Worship Shorter Collect

 

First Bible Reading Isaiah 50:4-9a

The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back. 

I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him confront me! It is the Sovereign LORD who helps me. Who is he that will condemn me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up.

Second Reading Philippians 2:5-11

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Gospel Reading Mark 11:1-11

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying 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. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you doing this?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.' " 

They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, "What are you doing, untying that colt?" They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 

When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted. "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!" "Hosanna in the highest!" 

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

Post Communion Sentence

Lord Jesus Christ: you humbled yourself in taking the form of a servant, and in obedience died on the cross for our salvation; give us the mind to follow you and to proclaim you as Lord and King to the Glory of God the Father.  Amen
 

Commentary

Dominus Flevit

The photo was taken from the window of a Christian church which we visited on the way down the Mount of Olives, the Sanctuary of the Dominus Flevit (Jesus Wept). No picture can really do justice to the view which is experienced by pilgrims approaching the magnificent city of Jerusalem from this hillside. It would have been exhilarating for the disciples as together with Jesus they approached the place where they believed God dwelt and where they could offer sacrifice and find forgiveness of their sins. They were in the company of the one they believed to be the Messiah and we can understand that feelings were high.

Remember this was Passover the time when the Jews celebrated the liberation of the people from the power of Pharaoh, a foreign oppressor. Now they were a conquered people again, under Roman rule. Imagine how this oppressed people would have felt celebrating Passover, which reminded them of how their God had helped them conquer their mighty enemy, Egypt. The people were used to seeing processions entering the city. No doubt many Roman troops had come for Passover when the population of Jerusalem would swell greatly. The Roman army entering the city would have been a frightening and an imposing sight for the people. Roman generals on horses, colourful standards flying and the , the Roman eagle held high, polished swords and armour and the terrifying sound so the pounding of marching boots. The procession was designed to be a display of Roman imperial power which would remind conquered people of their subjugation. Under the weight of Roman rule, it was to this people that Jesus gave hope of another mighty release which God had in store for his people through his Messiah..

Jerusalem is such an important city for Jesus and whilst Matthew, Mark and Luke give the impression that this was Jesus first visit, we know from John’s Gospel that this was not the case. (Jn 2:13, 5:1, 7:10). Jesus regularly attended the great feasts. We also know of his special relationship with Martha, Mary and Lazarus at Bethany. Bethany (House of Dates). Bethany was so close that it was a lodging place for pilgrims when Jerusalem was full. We should not be surprised that Jesus has been able to arrange for a donkey to be ready to be supplied to his disciples for him using the coded words ‘The Lord needs it’

The action of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey is significant. It recalls the passage from Zechariah 9:9.

‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion. Shout aloud O daughter of Jerusalem.
Lo, your king comes to you, triumphant and victorious is he, riding on an ass and upon a colt the foal of an ass.’

The message is clear, Jesus is a king, but he is a king riding triumphantly in peace, unlike the Roman procession. The crowds spread their clothes on the road as they had done when Jehu was anointed King (2 Kings 9:13). Jesus was clealry seen as royalty, but Jesus was not a king who would inspire bloodshed like Jehu. Eventually this would cause disappointment from the crowds for they wanted a king who would go to war against Rome.

When they see Jesus the crowds shout

Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!" "Hosanna in the highest

The cry ‘Hosanna’, is an expression which we see in Psalm 118:25. It could be translated ’God save us, now we pray.’ This is a Messianic greeting from a Psalm which might have commemorated the entry of a conqueror like Judas Maccabeus two hundred years earlier when he had led a rebellion against the forces of the Syrian king Antiocheius and purified and rededicated the temple. The same words were used in 2 Samuel 14:4 and 2 Kings 6:26 by crowds seeking help for protection.

Jesus hears the shouts of Hosanna but we know in his own mind he is thinking of his last meal when he will kneel down like a servant to wash his friends’ feet. He can hear Hosanna but he knows that soon the same crowd will become angry and shout instead “Crucify him!” The crowds see Jesus as their Messiah and the visual dramatic actions of Jesus are guaranteed to encourage this. However the crowds do not understand the paradox of his kingship. Jesus came not as a warrior upon a stallion but as a king ready to die. He was not there to fulfil the narrow nationalistic ideals of the Jews oppressed by Rome, Jesus has in mind a much greater task, to make known the salvation of God which was for all creation. Charles Royden

Meditation

Historians tell us that each year over many thousands people went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover at the time of Christ, swelling the population by as much as 10 or 20 times the normal. The place would be heaving, and into all this excitement and fervour Jesus rides slowly into Jerusalem on a donkey. And amid all these thronging people Jesus rides into town and Jerusalem is literally to be shaken to its foundations. There's going to be a spiritual showdown with the Jewish authorities and a political showdown with the Romans. Jesus' Galilean ministry is at an end, and shortly the journey to Jerusalem will be complete. The Messiah, the servant King of Isaiah, rides into town. Jesus, a man of supreme holiness, the perfect Israelite, the one who has come to set all people free has come to fulfil His calling. He knows His time has come. But Jesus died when he did, not because of the Romans and their insistence on crucifixion for a person who they thought was claiming to be the King of the Jews. He died not because the Jewish authorities charged him with blasphemy and condemned him to death. He died because God had decided that it was time for his Messiah Son to be revealed. Ultimately it didn’t matter what any earthly authorities thought they had the power and mandate to do, because God was, and is, and always will be, in loving control over his creation and it was he who made the decision.
 

Hymns

  1. All glory, laud and honour
  2. Make way, make way
  3. Crown Him with many crowns
  4. O worship the King
  5. Ride on, ride on in Majesty

 

 

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

Prayer encouragement in the Christian life

Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian,
if it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die

Heavenly Father, You gave your Son, Jesus Christ to show us the Way of justice, truth and peace. Help us hold his example before our eyes, in the way that leads to a better world on earth and eternal life in the Heaven. Amen

As we journey this week with Christ and celebrate the paschal mystery of his death and resurrection, let us earnestly pray to God for those following the way of the cross and for all peoples everywhere. Blessed are you, Lord our God, who sent your Son among us to bear the pain and grief of humankind. Receive the prayers we offer this day for all those in need in every place and as we near the holy mountain grant us strength on our journey. Glory to you for ever. Amen

O Lord, whose way is perfect, help us always to trust in your goodness, to walk in the way of faith, and to follow in the path of simplicity. Teach us to cast our cares on your providence, that we may possess a quiet mind and a contented spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Holy Father, you have shown us that the brave bearing of the cross is the beginning of wearing your crown: help us by your grace to bear patiently our pains and disappointments, as your beloved Son bore His; and to offer them to you as the pure gift of our faithfulness to our crucified Lord. Amen

As on this day we keep the special memory of our Redeemer's entry into the city, so grant O Lord than now and ever, He may triumph in our hearts. Let the King of Glory enter in, and let us lay ourselves and all we are in full and joyful homage before Him, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen Bishop Moule, 1841-1920

Father God, During Lent we have been preparing for the celebration of our Lord's Paschal mystery. On this day Jesus Christ entered the holy city of Jerusalem in triumph. The people welcomed Him with palms and shouts of praise, but the path before Him led to self-giving, suffering and death. Today we greet Him as our king, although we know His crown is thorns and His throne a cross. We follow Him this week from the glory of the palms to the glory of the resurrection by the dark road of suffering and death. Unite us with Him in His suffering on the cross; may we share His resurrection and new life. Amen

May Christ crucified draw you to himself, to find in him a sure ground for faith, a firm support for hope, and the assurance of sins forgiven; and may the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen

Prayer Liturgy for Palm Sunday

 

For forgiveness for the many times we have denied Jesus,
let us pray to the Lord.
All Lord, have mercy.

For grace to seek out those habits of sin
which mean spiritual death,
and by prayer and self-discipline to overcome them,
let us pray to the Lord.
All Lord, have mercy.

For Christian people,
that through the suffering of disunity
there may grow a rich union in Christ,
let us pray to the Lord.
All Lord, have mercy.

For those who make laws, interpret them,
and administer them,
that our common life may be ordered in justice and mercy,
let us pray to the Lord.
All Lord, have mercy.

For those who still make Jerusalem a battleground,
let us pray to the Lord.
All Lord, have mercy.

For those who have the courage and honesty
to work openly for justice and peace,
let us pray to the Lord.
All Lord, have mercy.

For those in the darkness and agony of isolation,
that they may find support and encouragement,
let us pray to the Lord.
All Lord, have mercy.

For those who, weighed down with hardship,
failure, or sorrow,
feel that God is far from them,
let us pray to the Lord.
All Lord, have mercy.

For those who are tempted to give up the way of the cross,
let us pray to the Lord.
All Lord, have mercy.

That we, with those who have died in faith,
may find mercy in the day of Christ,
let us pray to the Lord.
All Lord, have mercy.

 

Additional Material

 

Commentary

Jesus’ passion was the outcome of His obedient delivery of the message of the kingdom, despite His people’s rejection. The passion story in the gospel reading starts with Jesus riding into Jerusalem amid the crowds, everybody, it seemed, has turned up for the occasion of the Passover and many were there waving the palm fronds as Jesus rode in. The disciples were very impressed, and even the Pharisees and the Sadducees were beginning to realise that perhaps they had underestimated this simple Galilean teacher as word of His teaching and miracles reached them. And just as Solomon had ridden into Jerusalem as a King and gone to the Temple he had build, so Jesus rides in and goes to the Temple, the very centre of the Jewish faith, and began to teach and preach. It was an up and down ride. As Jesus rode into town people sang His praises. Many looked on in admiration as He turned over the tables of the money changers in the Temple. But it all changed. A few short days later He was betrayed and arrested, and on Friday He was hung him on a cross and killed. Today the palms - tomorrow the passion. The Romans wanted Him out of the way because He represented a political threat and undermined the concept as Caesar being King and a god. The Jews wanted Him out of the way because of the disruption He was causing in religious circles and His claim to be the Messiah. Both parties disliked Him because He criticised their duplicity and errant ways. But both were most afraid of the power that He seemed to wield, however gently. Power over the growing crowds of followers who seemed to hang on His every word and deed. Power over sickness as He healed the many sick and infirm who came to Him. Power over creation itself, as he calmed the wind and the waves. Whilst they may have not recognised Him as the Messiah, they could clearly see that Jesus was no ordinary person and things had to be stopped before they got seriously out of hand.

In our Lent course this year we have been looking at the teaching, parable, miracles and passion of Jesus. All are inextricably linked to the Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. Jesus lived out what He taught, challenged the Jews and the Jewish authorities with many parables, especially the parable of the vineyard. He confirmed that he was the Messiah through the miracles He performed and His acknowledgement of the role God had given Him, all of which led Him to enter Jerusalem when He did in the manner in which He did. Jesus Himself was the fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecy which focused on the coming Messiah. His entry into Jerusalem echoes one of the Psalms which was used at every Passover, Psalm 118, where loud Hosannas are cried. Matthew quotes the passage from Zechariah, ‘See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey…’ But when Jesus rode into Jerusalem living and acting out these ancient prophecies, many did not recognise Him as the Messiah they longed for. He was no ordinary person that was for sure. The crowds asked who it was that had such an impact as He rode into the city. What they were witnessing was not some war lord riding into battle to smash the opposition and take it captive but a radically subverted model of power, exercised in gentleness and compassion which would challenge the systems and structures of the political and religious world, and continue to do so throughout history. They were confused. Jesus proclaimed peace, not war; set people free rather than taking them captive; and restored rather than plundered. It’s this subversive, radical power that Christ unleashes on the world through the events of the coming week, and continues through the imperfect, but forgiven and redeemed band of people called the Church. Jesus was the last emissary from God, bringing with him God’s final and decisive word to his people and we are called to be His disciples. As He was led out to crucifixion His followers must have wondered what was happening. Kings and Messiahs don’t get crucified; they conquer and rule, smashing the powers of sin and darkness on the way. And in His own way, Jesus did just that. It would take some time before the world would come to realise that the humiliated artisan from Nazareth who was crucified truly had changed lives, nations and world history. As we look to Easter it’s important that we too sing His praises and wave our palm fronds of adoration. It’s important that we marvel at His words, His parables and His teaching. It’s important that we open ourselves to the miracle of the resurrection in our own lives and the power of His Spirit to lead and guide us day by day. We know that sometimes we’ll let Christ down; we’ll deny and disown Him, as did the disciples. We’ll do the things we don’t want to do which are counter to God’s ways. The events of Easter week are a microcosm of our own lives, our up and our downs, the times of great happiness and the times of deepest sadness and despair, the things we can be proud of and the things for which we are deeply sorry and ashamed. As the time of Lent comes to a close and Easter comes upon us we are visibly reminded that whatever might happen, God is in control. Through the sacrifice of the cross and the glory of resurrection, God shows His love for the world and all His creation by reconciling all things to Himself, He demonstrates His ultimate victorious power over all the forces that oppose His will, and He invites us to share in the risen life of His Son. Sam Cappleman

Commentary

Our Gospel reading this week recounts Christ’s entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of the last week of His earthly life. His whole ministry thus far had been one of teaching and healing as He had travelled the surrounding countryside. Over the past weeks we have seen how Jesus had been determined to go to Jerusalem and to be there in time for the feast of the Passover. From our recent readings from the gospels we realise that Jesus was fully aware of the fate that was to befall Him; He had explained this to His disciples many times, although it is doubtful if they fully understood. Why should they? Had not Peter declared that Jesus was indeed the Messiah and their understanding of such a person was that he would have had the power to overrule the machinations of evil-thinking people even if they were high priests.


This week’s reading from Isaiah highlights the dangers of being a prophet. Called by God to be a messenger, he does not shirk from proclaiming the message of repentance and a return to the ways of a God-fearing nation, even though this subjects him to personal abuse and physical attacks. There is an interesting comment in verse 6 of chapter 50, where the prophet states that ‘he gave his cheeks to those who pulled out the beard’. To pull hairs from a persons beard was considered to be a great insult in those days, (it was also quite painful too, I imagine). The whole passage shows that the prophet did not shirk from his duty but put all his trust in God to see him through.

Would this passage have been in Jesus’ mind as He made His way toward Jerusalem? By the end of the week Jesus had received plenty of verbal and physical abuse for His words and actions. Could we have faced such treatment? We may be laughed at occasionally for our beliefs but I doubt if we have ever had to face that sort of behaviour.

The story of ‘Palm Sunday’ or the ride into Jerusalem from Bethphage, is a very familiar one. The cheering from the large and noisy crowds, the quiet and gentle plodding of the donkey, the cloaks and branches thrown onto the stony path in an attempt to carpet the way to make it fit for a royal person. But what was really going through Jesus’ mind as He looked at the crowds on both sides of the road? Did He recognise any one in the sea of faces? Was there someone or something familiar to Him? All we are told, in Luke’s gospel, is that as Jesus ascended the slope into Jerusalem he wept.
When we survey the state of the world around us, both near and far, how does it make us feel? Do we weep for the state of the people around us or for our own inability to do anything about it?   Mr Alan Davis

 

Prayers


Be with us, Lord, to defend us; within us to refresh us; around us to protect us; before us to guide us; behind us to encourage us and above us to bless us; for your own name's sake. Amen Celtic, 10th century

Christ crucified draw you to himself, to find in him a sure ground for faith, a firm support for hope, and the assurance of sins forgiven; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those things which last for ever; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

O God our dance, in whom we live and move and have our being: so direct our strength and inspire our weakness that we may enter with power into the movement of you whole creation, through our partner Jesus Christ. Amen

O God, you are my rock, my rescue, and my refuge, I leave it all quietly to you. Amen. George Appleton (1902-93)

Lord may I prefer the truth and right by which I might seem to lose, to the falsehood and wrong by which I might seem to gain. Amen.