Palm Sunday is weird. I mean, even for Christians, Palm Sunday should be weird. In Luke, Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem and we can almost hear the sigh of “let’s do this” under his breath and the weirdness starts. We meet our hero in the midst of Chapter 19:
29 When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’”
Um. Okay. Jesus has instructed two of the disciples (who shall remain nameless to protect their identities) to not get a colt or buy colt or ask for a colt, but take a colt. A colt that has been tied up by someone (probably the owners, maybe?). Now, Luke does not say if Jesus sent another disciple (nameless or otherwise) to tie up a colt or how Jesus knows that the colt has never been ridden (we’ll excuse this, because Jesus knows things). We just know that an unridden colt has been tied up. And Jesus tells them to give the LAMEST excuse for taking it: “The Lord needs it.” Yes, I will try that defense when I am picked up for grand theft auto. This should be called the “Luke 19 Defense.”
32 So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They said, “The Lord needs it.”
And the owners watch them do this and ask, “Um, why are you untying our colt?” A good question for owners to ask. “The Lord needs it.” Luke 19 Defense. And that’s it. We don’t learn about an altercation or a follow-up question. We are to assume that the owners are totally cool with these two strangers taking their animal that they haven’t even taken for a test ride, yet.
35 Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road.
Nota bene: THERE ARE NO PALMS. This is a palmless gospel. Not a palm frond to be seen. This a cloak-ful gospel. There are cloaks everywhere. They are on this poor, “taken” colt and this colt (certainly in the midst of a “WTF?” moment in its previously-unridden little colt brain) is now walking on a road full of cloaks. That poor colt! Weirdness.
37 As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38 saying,
“Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!”
So, here we have allusions to King David and royalty and this shit is going to go down OH SO WELL well with SPQR that has only been officially an empire for sixty-so years and skittish young government that it is is probably not going to be that cool with this carpenter king with his band of cloak-tossing colt-stealers causing a commotion. And neither are Jesus’ competitors:
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.”40
Notice how Luke has the Pharisees acknowledge his authority and validity: “Teacher.” Luke pwns.
He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
Not the colt, though.
The whole episode is just the beginning of a very weird week. And it’s when the disciples and the Church get an endorphin high (joy-riding a colt will probably do that to you, I guess) and oh so happy! and oh so yes! and I love Jesus! I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me! and I’m going to quote contextless Bible verses on Twitter and Facebook!
And your tight, little organized world is all going to come crashing down before you even hit the weekend.