Lectionary Year A
March 24, 2002
Matthew 21:1-11

Step V: Distillation

A. Summary of Salient Features

(JFC) The major concerns in this pericope include Jesus' pro-action of getting the donkey(s), His assuming the position of humility and Matthew's recording the Old Testament passages by way of explanation of His actions. Perhaps the theological focal point is the crowd's identifying Him as the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee. The location, Jerusalem, seems to be border-line, between major and minor matters in this passage, but possibly more major than minor. These observations leave the minor points to include the disciples, the donkey(s), the people and their questioning Jesus identity.

B. Smoother Translation

(JFC) 1 And when they came near Jerusalem and they came near Bethphage near the Mount of the Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples 2 saying to them, "Go to the village the before you, and immediately you will find a donkey having been bound and a colt with her; untie (and) bring (them) to me. 3 And if anyone should ask you anything, say that the Lord has need for them; and immediately He will return them. 4 Now this was happening so that that which was being said would fulfill what was said by the prophet saying, 5 "Say to the daughter of Zion;
behold the King of yours is coming to you; humble and embarked on a donkey and on a colt (the) son of (the) donkey.
6 And the disciples went and did as Jesus directed/instructed/ordered them 7 they brought the donkey and the colt and they put/placed on them the garments/cloaks, and He sat on them. 8 But the very large/great crowd spread their garments on the road, but others were cut branches from the trees and spread (them) on the road. 9 Bt the crowds the ones going before/ahead of Him and the ones following also were shouting/calling,
"Hosanna to the Son of David; God's blessings upon the One coming in name of Lord; Hosanna in the highest heaven."
10 And upon entering into Jerusalem all the city was trembling/stirred up and saying, "Who is this?" 11 But the crowds were saying, "This is the prophet Jesus the One from Nazareth of Galilee."

C. Hermeneutical Bridges

(JFC) Here, Jesus seems to be acting out an "Expect the Unexpected" drama. For several chapters He has been telling the disciples about His impending suffering and death and also His resurrection, some, as well. Now, sensing they need more effective and more convincing data to prepare them for these dynamic experiences, He resorts to showing them more than only telling them of His earthly end. So, He dramatizes it with a donkey or two, and Matthew, who gets the picture several years later, adds the details of the Old Testament witnesses. This week's Epistle lection, Philippians 2:5-11, chiefly verses 6-8, poetically gets at the same vibrancies as the Gospel Lesson descries.

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