The Triumphal Entry: Liturgy of the Palms B

I love the year of Mark. Besides studying under David Rhoads and editing some of Joanna Dewey's work, I did my MA thesis on Mark 11-13. Sunday's readings set us at the "triumphal entry" that Mark provides for Jesus -- the closest thing we have to an original for that text, which Matthew sets out to "improve." And then we'll wind up skipping over the good stuff in the middle, Jesus' prophetic Temple teaching, and jump right into the Passion propers. But that's as it should be -- this first trip into the city doesn't belong to the rest of Mark 11-13. It sets the audience up for the fall.

Psalm 118
This is a liturgy in its own right, a song of God's deliverance from besieging oppressors. It follows the procession of the people out of bondage, into the sanctuary, up to the altar of offering with prayer, to be blessed by the priests -- all for the sake of the God who delivers.
Confess that YHVH is good;
That his mercy is eternal.
Let Israel respond: "His mercy is eternal!"
Let the House of Aharon respond: "His mercy is eternal!"
Let those who revere YHVH respond: "His mercy is eternal!"

I called upon Yah from oppression;
Yah responded to me with liberty.
Since YHVH is on my side, I do not fear;
what can creatures of earth do to me?
Since YHVH is on my side with aid,
I shall look upon my enemies.

It is better to take refuge in YHVH
than to run to creatures of earth;
It is better to take refuge in YHVH
thank to trust in human generosity.
Though every nation besieged me,
I cut them down with the name YHVH;
Though they had me completely surrounded,
I cut them down with the name YHVH;
Though they surrounded me like a swarm,
they were extinguished like fire among the brambles:
I cut them down with the name YHVH.

You pushed me in order to knock me down,
but YHVH helped me.
My strength and song of praise is Yah,
who became my deliverance.
This is the song and shout of deliverance
in the tents of the justified:
"YHVH's right hand makes us strong;
YHVH's right hand lifts us up;
YHVH's right hand makes us strong!"

Because I live and do not die,
I will recount the deeds of Yah.
Yah has disciplined me sore,
but did not hand me over to death.
Fling wide the gates of justice
that I may enter and confess Yah!

This is the gate of YHVH;
let the justified pass through it.

I confess that you have answered me,
and become my deliverance.
The stone the builders spurned
now crowns the corner.

This could only be from YHVH;
we regard it as beyond anyone else.
Because today YHVH has done this,
we will rejoice and be glad.

Please, YHVH, deliver us;
Please, YHVH, advance our cause.

Blessed is the one who comes with the name YHVH;
we of the house of YHVH bless you.
YHVH is god and shines on us;
bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.

You are my god and I confess you;
my god and I will lift you up.

Confess that YHVH is good;
That his mercy is eternal!

Mark 11:1-11
This first trip into Jerusalem is pure messianic symbolism, all recognition and hope. It is an echo of the psalm, but bent out of shape because the pilgrim is now acclaimed as the deliverer. But hey -- who doesn't love a good parade? Sit on your cloak with the crowd and watch:
And when they were approaching Jerusalem by way of Bethpage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives side, Jesus sent two of his disciples, and said to them, "Go to the village down across the way from you, and right when you go into it you will find a colt already tied up, on which nobody has yet sat down. Untie it and fetch it. And should someone ask you why you are doing this, say, "My master has a use for it, and will send it back here right away." And they left, and found the colt already tied out near the gate on the square, and untied it. And some of the people who were standing there said to them, "What are you doing untying the colt?" And they said to them exactly what Jesus said, and they allowed them to take the colt. And they brought it to Jesus, and threw their cloaks over it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks in the road, and others spread mats of straw cut from the fields. And the leaders of the procession and the followers were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed in the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!" And he went into Jerusalem, to the Temple. And after having looked around at everything for himself, since it was already a late hour, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.


  1. Nice, Matt.

    Hey, we're similar as far as both having written exegetical theses for our Master degrees (mine on I Cor 1:17-25).

    I love this time of year, and Psalm 118 is just one of my all time favorites! Thanks for this post!!


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