Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Jesus' Devotions on Palm Sunday

I'm working on a devotional for Passion Week with Wesleyan Publishing and was looking at Psalm 118, the passage those laying down palms quote on Palm Sunday.  118:26 says, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" (NIV2011).  Of course it's impossible to know for sure, but the thought occurred to me, "What if this psalm was on Jesus' mind that day?"  Or to put it more creatively, "What if Jesus read this psalm for his devotions that Sunday morning?"

First, I think Jesus would have associated this psalm with David and of course Jesus knew himself to be the Son of David.  The overall thrust of the psalm is thus God's vindication of David despite significant opposition.  How powerful the words of 118:6: "The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?"  What about 118:9: "It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes"?

Are these words that Jesus had in mind as he marched into Jerusalem, the one destined to be king?  "They swarmed around me like bees."  And of course the gospels quote 118:22, "The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone."

I think it is quite possible that Jesus had well planned out Palm Sunday.  He arranged for the colt to evoke Zechariah 9:9.  Just perhaps it was arranged for people to quote Psalm 118:26.  And his course that day played out the path from Psalm 118:19 to 27: "Open for me the gates of the righteous... With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar." So Jesus enters Jerusalem and proceeds to the temple.

"The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice and be glad."

1 comment:

Bill Heroman said...

Love it. Sounds like "well planned out" is more likely than "read that morning" unless you mean he had the psalm in mind that morning *because* of his earlier planning.

These are the kinds of hypotheses I think help flesh the man out. He made plans. He read psalms. It's not that we conclude this or that parallel thought was or wasn't in his mind that day or a week/year/decade before. If anyone wants to be contentious about such speculation it should go without saying that "of course we don't know". BUT! The value here is the plausibility; first, that this *could* have been exactly what he did, but even more, this shows us (to borrow Dale Allison's phrase) the "kinds of things" that Jesus likely did. And that helps us improve our general picture of Jesus' actual life, without presuming to fictionalize, and without retreating to "fashionable ignorance".

Wonderful, Ken! Thanks ever so much.

More, please? :-)