Wed, April 6, 202210 mins readFather Hans Buob

Palm Sunday

Biblical Homilies on the Sunday Gospels in Reading Year C

Christ's Entry into Jerusalem, by Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin (1842-1848).

Bible passages


Luke 19:28-40

After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead. He was going up to Jerusalem. He approached Bethphage and Bethany. The hill there was called the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent out two of his disciples. He said to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you. As soon as you get there, you will find a donkey’s colt tied up. No one has ever ridden it. Untie it and bring it here. Someone may ask you, “Why are you untying it?” If so, say, “The Lord needs it.” ’ Those who were sent ahead went and found the young donkey. It was there just as Jesus had told them. They were untying the colt when its owners came. The owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ They replied, ‘The Lord needs it.’ Then the disciples brought the colt to Jesus. They threw their coats on the young donkey and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their coats on the road. Jesus came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives. There the whole crowd of disciples began to praise God with joy. In loud voices they praised him for all the miracles they had seen. They shouted, ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘May there be peace and glory in the highest heaven!’ Some of the Pharisees in the crowd spoke to Jesus. ‘Teacher’, they said, ‘tell your disciples to stop!’ ‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’

Biblical Homilies


“After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead. He was going up to Jerusalem. He approached Bethphage and Bethany. The hill there was called the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent out two of his disciples. He said to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you. As soon as you get there, you will find a donkey’s colt tied up. No one has ever ridden it. Untie it and bring it here. Someone may ask you, “Why are you untying it?” If so, say, “The Lord needs it.” ’ Those who were sent ahead went and found the young donkey. It was there just as Jesus had told them. They were untying the colt when its owners came. The owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ They replied, ‘The Lord needs it.’“ (vgl. Vers 28-34)

So far, Jesus has evaded the homage of the people. He never allowed it on the whole way from Galilee to Jerusalem, the so-called way of following Jesus. On the way, he taught the disciples what it means to be a disciple. And now he finally reaches Jerusalem.

He comes first to Bethphage near Bethany. And what he has always avoided until now, so that his enemies cannot do anything to him as long as his hour has not yet come, he now does: he also wants to reveal himself as the Messiah in the midst of the people. Now they shall recognise him. For now his hour has come.

He instructs the disciples to fetch a donkey fill that no one has ever sat on. This indicates the great importance of the coming event, because animals were chosen for sacred purposes that had never been used for work. So a colt on which no one has ever sat shows that it is a great event. And so Jesus inaugurates his messianic kingship with an animal that has not yet been ridden. If the owner of the donkey's colt only releases the animal on the word: "The Lord needs ...", then it can be assumed that Jesus is very well known to him.

“Then the disciples brought the colt to Jesus. They threw their coats on the young donkey and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their coats on the road. Jesus came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives. There the whole crowd of disciples began to praise God with joy. In loud voices they praised him for all the miracles they had seen. They shouted, ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘May there be peace and glory in the highest heaven!’”(vgl. Vers 35-38)

The disciples throw their outer garments on the donkey as a sign of homage, but also as a sign of their devotion. The climax of the rejoicing comes when they come up from Bethphage to the Mount of Olives and see Jerusalem and the Temple before them. Here is the climax of the rejoicing of his disciples, that is, of all those who had gone with him throughout the months from Galilee up to Jerusalem, where his hour is to be fulfilled: the hour of death and resurrection. And the closer they come to the city, as they go down the Mount of Olives, the louder the rejoicing about the miraculous signs and the great deeds of Jesus, which they had experienced on the whole way from Galilee to here. They now even lift up the great Hallelujah, the great Hallelujah that is sung at the end of the Passover meal and at the Feast of Tabernacles. In its beginning: "he who comes in the name of the Lord", this Hallelujah takes on a messianic meaning. The coming one is publicly welcomed by them as king and this royal dignity is promised, sung and cheered to him. In this rejoicing it is expressed that Jesus is sent by God.

The words "In heaven peace and glory in the highest!" are then a hymn of adoration to Christ. They find their counterpart in the angels' song of praise in the corridors of Bethlehem at the birth of the Lord at the beginning of his life. And here, at the end of his life, now the same words. There is peace in heaven because God has had mercy on his people - through the Messiah who now enters his city and through his mission as King of Peace.

“Some of the Pharisees in the crowd spoke to Jesus. ‘Teacher’, they said, ‘tell your disciples to stop!’ ‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’” (vgl. Vers 39-40)

Of course, the loud cheering does not go unnoticed. And to see what is going on, the Pharisees now also mingle with the cheering people. But they do not succeed in silencing the people. The followers of Jesus can no longer be restrained in their enthusiasm, because they have just seen Jesus' great deeds and heard his words for months on the whole way to Jerusalem.

But Jesus unhesitatingly confesses to the people's rejoicing: "When they are silent, the stones will cry out." This is an allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Then the stones will cry out. Then the judgment will come upon them that Jesus foretold. The stones of the city and the temple will then bear witness to the rejection of the Messiah, for this rejection was the reason for the destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus tells them this very clearly here.

Up to now, for the whole three years on the long road to Jerusalem, Jesus has repeatedly forbidden people to call him Messiah, because his hour had not yet come. But now it has come. Now, before his agony, he wants people to know that he is the Saviour. Already in Jericho, before they went up through the desert to Jerusalem, he let the blind man call him "Son of David" and no longer resisted this title. And now Jerusalem, indeed all Israel, is to decide whether or not to accept him as their King and Saviour.

The Pharisees who reject him and do not accept him as King and Saviour actually give a very clear testimony of the mood in Jerusalem. And this then leads to his death and the fall of Jerusalem in 70: They will "leave no stone unturned; for you have not known the time of grace." (Lk 19:44) and, "The time will come when not one stone of all that you see here will be left upon another; everything will be torn down." (Lk 21:6)

So the question for us today on Palm Sunday is: Do I accept Jesus as my Saviour and King? Do I only acknowledge him or do I also accept his salvation? Do I accept his grace? Do I accept his reconciliation in the sacraments? Do I accept all this or am I a Christian who accepts nothing? But then am I still a Christian at all?

The stones that no longer remain on top of each other because they do not recognise the hour of the visitation, that should also remind us of the signs of the times. Do I still let myself be addressed by the signs of the times and am I aware: If we reject Christ, then the consequence is destruction, not peace and freedom? The rejection of God leads to destruction. This already happened in paradise. Through sin, man destroyed himself and his happiness. If we do not find our way back to Christ personally, but also as a congregation and a people, then the consequence is destruction in some form. Let us look at our people, how sick they already are, how many souls are already destroyed. Many are so destroyed that no one can heal them except God. The stones that no longer remain on top of each other because they do not recognise the hour of the visitation should also remind us of the signs of the times. Do I still let myself be addressed by the signs of the times and am I aware: If we reject Christ, then the consequence is destruction, not peace and freedom? The rejection of God leads to destruction. This already happened in paradise. Through sin, man destroyed himself and his happiness. If we do not find our way back to Christ personally, but also as a congregation and a people, then the consequence is destruction in some form. Let us look at our people, how sick they already are, how many souls are already destroyed. Many are so destroyed that no one can heal them except God. These are very crucial questions that everyone must ask themselves today. ∎