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Text Study for Palm/Passion Sunday-- 2011

Text Study for Palm/Passion Sunday-- 2011

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Published by Joseph Winston

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Published by: Joseph Winston on Apr 17, 2011
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Text Study for the Palm/Passion Sunday
The Rev. Joseph WinstonApril 17, 2011
Commentary
Matthew 21:1-11
It is important to remember as we enter Holy Week, that Matthew gives us thefollowing portrait of Jesus: He is in control of what is happening, He is fulfillingthe Scripture, and through it all He is the Lord and the Son of David.
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Matthew 21:1
reached Bethphage
– The name “Bethphage” means “house of figs.” This small village was located to the east of Jerusalem.
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The Mountof Olives is parallel to the east side of Jerusalem.
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This means that Jesus isapproaching Jerusalem from the East.
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at the Mount of Olives
– The Mount of Olives is the site of a eschatologicalbattle:Zechariah 14
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Behold, a day of the L
ORD
is coming, when thespoil taken from you will be divided in the midst of you.
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For Iwill gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the cityshall be taken and the houses plundered and the women ravished;half of the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shallnot be cut off from the city.
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Then the L
ORD
will go forth andfight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle.
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On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives which liesbefore Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall besplit in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that onehalf of the Mount shall withdraw northward, and the other half southward.
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Andthevalleyofmymountainsshallbestoppedup,for the valley of the mountains shall touch the side of it; and youshall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzzi’ahking of Judah. Then the L
ORD
your God will come, and all theholy ones with him. (RSV)Josephus in Ant. 20:162-72 tells of a man who said that he could destroyJerusalem’s walls while he was at the Mount of Olives.
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Matthew 21:2
find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring themto me.
– Zechariah 9:9 reads, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shoutaloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphantand victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass. (RSV)” It seems that the author of Matthew took this literally anddoubled the animals.
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The world for colt
πλος
could mean young horsebut in the light of Zechariah 9:9, it must be read as a young donkey.
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We areto understand this direct reference to Zechariah as an indication that Jesusfulfilled this prophecy.
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Matthew21:3
TheLordneedsthem.
WedonotknowifJesushadmadearrange-ments to borrow the animals.
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The use of 
κύριος
(Lord) would indicate tothe church that God needed the animals.
Matthew 21:4
This took place to fulfill
– The author of Matthew explicitly tellsthe listeners what is happening.
spoken through the prophet 
– There will be two (Isaiah and Zechariah)prophets not one.Matthew 21:5
Tell the daughter of Zion
– This is from Isaiah 62:11 (“Behold,the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of 
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10
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Zion, ‘Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, andhis recompense before him.’ ” RSV)
 Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
– This portion is from Zechariah 9:9. Noticethat Matthew leaves out “triumphant and victorious is he,” which focusesthe prophecy on meekness.
Matthew 21:6Matthew 21:7
they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them,and he sat on them
– It is unclear if “them” refers to one animal with itscloaks or to two animals with cloaks on each of them.
Matthew 21:8
A very large crowd 
– The Greek reads
 δ πλεστος χλος
, whichis ‘”the large crowd.” This translation by the NRSV is better than the RSV“most of the crowd” and it is almost identical to what the KJV used.
cut branches from the trees
– The use of palms was appropriate for the feastsof Tabernacles and Hanukkah (Leviticus 23:39-43; 1 Maccabees 13:51; 2Maccabees 10:7).
Matthew 21:9
Hosanna
– The Greek transliteration of the Hebrew means “save,please.”
The function here is a royal greeting rather than a plea for help.
 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
– This quote is fromPsalm 118:26a (Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD KJVor Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. NRSV).Itisimportanttorememberthecontextthatiscontainedinthispsalm.Listento what comes before:Psalm 118:22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cor-nerstone. 23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This isthe day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (NRSV)
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