Gospel of Mark 11:1-11
11When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and
Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2 and
said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as
you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been
ridden; untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you
doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back
here immediately.’” 4 They went away and found a colt tied near a
door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5 some of the
bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the
colt?” 6 They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them
to take it. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their
cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on
the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the
fields. 9 Then those who went ahead and those who followed were
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he
had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out
to Bethany with the twelve.
Violence plagues humanity.
From near the beginning of our creation, there has existed a
tension between the delight of living in harmony with God and the
world, and our desire for power.
The ancient Hebrew story from Genesis conveys this perpetual
Jesus entered a world fraught with violence. He felt inspired to
share his ‘gospel’. It does us well to recall the original meaning
of the word ‘gospel’ is simply ‘good news’.
At the time Jesus lived, the Roman Empire had expanded its
influence in Palestine and throughout the western world.
Expansion was possible by spreading Pax Romana.
The Emperor, Senate and Army genuinely believed that the most
effective way of bringing peace to the Empire was through
coercion and violence.
”When the Roman empire went off and conquered another land in
the name of their god Caesar,
killing many of the men and children, raping the women,
destroying all the homes, and enslaving the able-bodied,
the soldiers would come back parading through the land
announcing ‘the Gospel according to Caesar,’
the Good News of the latest victory of Caesar, that another land
has been conquered for their god Caesar, and that Caesar’s
enemies have been killed.” Fr. John Dear from
e-subversive- politics-of- palm-sunday/#suGWFSbBhVEvX74p.99
When Jesus entered Jerusalem on that Sunday now known as
Palm Sunday, he had quite a different ‘gospel’ to share.
As he rode into the city, “Many people spread their cloaks on the
road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the
fields.” Mark 11:8 This is reminiscent of a time 200 years before
Keith Giles, author and theologian, writes;
“Those palm branches were a direct throwback to the Maccabean
period when the triumphant Jewish warriors rode into Jerusalem
and the people celebrated their victory over the Seleucids, a
Macedonian dynasty ruling over Syria from 312 -64 BC.,
which incidentally was followed immediately by a ritual cleansing
of the temple (not dissimilar to Jesus cleansing the Temple).
At that time, (200 years prior to Jesus), the people waved palm
branches as a symbol of military conquest over an oppressive
Keith Giles suggests: “By waving those palm branches, the
people are saying (to Jesus) that they are ready for war.
They are ready for the blood of the Romans to be spilled in an
uprising that they hope Jesus will lead them in.”
Mark’s Gospel reports: “Then those who went ahead and those
who followed (Jesus) were shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one
who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming
kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’”
The word Hosanna is from the Hebrew word ‘Hoshanna’ and is
found in Psalm 118:25, which we read in our Prayer Book as
“Hosanna, LORD, hosanna! LORD, send us now success.”
But in the original Hebrew it reads “(Hoshanna) Save us, we pray,
O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success!”
The word Hosanna was redefined by the Church from the 4 th
century on, to infer the notion of ‘praise’.
Yet, to understand the mindset of those living in Jerusalem and
Jewish pilgrims coming to worship in Jerusalem’s Temple, we
must interpret the word as they would have understood it to
This gives us a far different perspective of the crowd’s intent as
they enthusiastically welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem.
“When (the people) shouted “Hosanna!” which in Hebrew means
“Save us!” they are demanding (Jesus) to lead the charge of
attack against the Romans.” – Keith Giles
No wonder they abandoned Jesus. His Gospel of Peace,
Forgiveness and Unconditional Love was not what they desired.
“(The people) waved palm branches as a symbol of their hopes
for military power and conquest, not as a symbol of humble
devotion to the King who rides on a donkey to reign as the Prince
of Peace in every human heart.” – Giles Keith
Now we know why the people cried out “Crucify him”. Jesus was
not who and what they wanted.
Is Jesus who and what we want?
If Jesus is who we want, we must be willing to relinquish our
desire for power and resist our culture’s illusion of intimidation
and violence as tools of bringing about peace.
Jesus invites us to accept his good news.
Jesus desires us to live in harmony with God, nature and one
another here and now.
Jesus welcomes us to live and spread God’s peace, forgiveness
and unconditional love.
Of course, there are consequences to living Jesus’ good news.
Living the expressions of God endorsed in his good news got
But there was no other way to give us opportunity for finding
hope, purpose and joy in a world oppressed by violence.
There was no other way to draw us into God’s peace, forgiveness
and self-giving love. No other way to truly live “Enough Is