- Bible Readings: Matthew 21:1-17
- Free Resource: Construction Cross (Youth)
- Unit Theme (April 14–April 28): God’s Greatest Promise
With this reading, set for Palm Sunday, we begin the climax of the Lenten season. Jesus enters Jerusalem and will not leave the vicinity until his resurrection. We have listened to Jesus’ teaching about the ways of the kingdom, now we will focus on God’s greatest promise fulfilled by the Son of David in the cross and empty tomb this upcoming week.
Son of David: Messiah and King
Jesus is acclaimed as the Son of David in the shouts of the people (Matthew 21:9). As the messiah was to come from the line of David, calling Jesus the “Son of David” is to name Jesus as the Messiah. Matthew connects Jesus’ action of riding to Jerusalem on a donkey with Zechariah 9:9-10, a messianic prophecy. This prophecy refers to a king who will come to Jerusalem and free the people from war and military oppression.
The Humble King
I noticed that Matthew leaves out part of the verse he quotes. Zechariah 9:9 (NRSV) states:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
This quote is missing what the NRSV translates “triumphant and victorious.” An interesting portion to leave out. Especially when my inexpert word study (thanks to BibleHub.com’s Hebrew/Greek resources) indicates this phrase can be translated as “righteous” and “bearing salvation.” Another difference is that the Hebrew word translated “humble” (purposely translated with reference to Matthew 21:5?) means “poor, afflicted, needy” while the Greek is “gentle, meek.” Triumphant, victorious, righteous, savior, afflicted, and gentle, of course, fit our understanding of Jesus well.
Giver of Mercy
Just before this (Matthew 20:29-34), Matthew describes an event which happened on Jesus’ way out of Jericho. Two men who were blind called out to Jesus, begging mercy from the Son of David. The Greek word, “mercy” here is not leniency, but connected to the Hebrew word “hesed,” God’s covenant-love or lovingkindness. The men were calling on the Son of David to show God’s love to them. In the temple (Matthew 21:14), Jesus again encounters men who were blind, as well as those who could not walk. Jesus healed them, as he had healed many throughout his ministry. He was indeed the Son of David, one who shows his gentle power in healing rather than violence.
Son of David, Savior
In v. 9, Jesus, the Son of David, is not only the gentle and loving king, but also the representative of God who saves (the meaning of hosanna from the quoted Psalm 118). But, we know that Jesus does not save through military intervention, but through the love/mercy we see as he hangs on the cross in less than a week.
As a reminder of this, our Living the Word: Youth curriculum gives us an activity where we build a cross together. “Construction Cross” instructs participants to use bits of construction paper, leaves, and/or cloth to jointly make the shape of a cross. This activity can be easily used by each age group and cross+generational settings with minimal adaptation.
May God continue to bless you this Lenten season.
-Gregory Rawn (Publisher)
Lent is almost over! However, it’s not too late to order Spring Living the Word faith formation resources (covering Lent through Pentecost Sunday)! As soon as your payment is processed, you can download the materials and start using them! Save 50% if you order 2018-2019 resources before April 12, 2019, with code Y1SPRING50.
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For more great ideas on how to engage participants of all ages in the story of God’s love, check out our complete Living the Word series for elementary students, youth, adults, and intergenerational settings!
Be sure to download our free Narrative Lectionary 2019-2020 Planning Tool, NL Readings Overview, and Scope & Sequence. The 2018-2019 Planning Tool and Scope & Sequence are still available to download, too!