Gospel Reading for Sunday 23rd May
When the day of Pentecost came, all the believers were gathered together in one place. Suddenly there was a noise from the sky which sounded like a strong wind blowing, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak. There were Jews living in Jerusalem, religious people who had come from every country in the world. When they heard this noise, a large crowd gathered. They were all excited, because all of them heard the believers talking in their own languages. In amazement and wonder they exclaimed, “These people who are talking like this are Galileans! How is it, then, that all of us hear them speaking in our own native languages? We are from Parthia, Media, and Elam; from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia; from Pontus and Asia, from Phrygia and Pamphylia, from Egypt and the regions of Libya near Cyrene. Some of us are from Rome, both Jews and Gentiles converted to Judaism, and some of us are from Crete and Arabia – yet all of us hear them speaking in our own languages about the great things that God has done!” Amazed and confused, they kept asking each other, “What does this mean?” But others made fun of the believers, saying, “These people are drunk!” Then Peter stood up with the other eleven apostles and in a loud voice began to speak to the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, listen to me and let me tell you what this means. These people are not drunk, as you suppose; it is only nine o’clock in the morning. Instead, this is what the prophet Joel spoke about: “This is what I will do in the last days, God says: I will pour out my Spirit on everyone. Your sons and daughters will proclaim my message; your young men will see visions, and your old men will have dreams. Yes, even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will proclaim my message. I will perform miracles in the sky above and wonders on the earth below. There will be blood, fire, and thick smoke; the sun will be darkened, and the moon will turn red as blood, before the great and glorious Day of the Lord comes. And then, whoever calls out to the Lord for help will be saved.’
The reading from Acts goes ‘over the top’ in its description of the effects of the Spirit – and with good reason. Peter and others were acting with great confidence and boldness, people were understanding things in their own languages. But are the effects of the Spirit always like this? The Epistle says the Spirit ‘helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought’ and ‘intercedes for the saints’. The Gospel reading speaks of the Spirit as an ‘Advocate’ and ‘the Spirit of truth’. Could it be a bit of both, or sometimes one and sometimes the other? After all the Spirit can surprise us – can’t it?
Holy Spirit, send us out.
Gentle Spirit, calm our fears.
Spirit of truth, lead us to a broader vision of your work.
Spirit of strength, in our weaknesses, make us strong.
Spirit of power, show us when and how to act for you.
Holy Spirit, send us out.
Gospel Reading for Sunday 16th May
“I have made you known to those you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me. They have obeyed your word, and now they know that everything you gave me comes from you. I gave them the message that you gave me, and they received it; they know that it is true that I came from you, and they believe that you sent me. “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those you gave me, for they belong to you. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine; and my glory is shown through them. And now I am coming to you; I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world. Holy Father! Keep them safe by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one just as you and I are one. While I was with them, I kept them safe by the power of your name, the name you gave me. I protected them, and not one of them was lost, except the man who was bound to be lost – so that the scripture might come true. And now I am coming to you, and I say these things in the world so that they might have my joy in their hearts in all its fullness. I gave them your message, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but I do ask you to keep them safe from the Evil One. Just as I do not belong to the world, they do not belong to the world. Dedicate them to yourself by means of the truth; your word is truth. I sent them into the world, just as you sent me into the world. And for their sake I dedicate myself to you, in order that they, too, may be truly dedicated to you.
This passage is taken from the account of Jesus’ last words to his disciples at the supper before his arrest. He prays for those he will shortly leave through his Passion. There are echoes of the Lord’s Prayer in Jesus’ address to God as ‘Father’ (v.5ff) and his prayer for protection from worldly powers of hatred and evil (vv.11,14,15; cf 16.1-2). It is as if Jesus looks for the coming of God’s kingdom in the unity, joy and faithfulness of his disciples (vv.11,13,17).
Throughout his Gospel, John reframes the humiliation and tragedy of Jesus’ brutal execution. He likens it to the liberating sacrifice of the Passover Lamb (1.29), or the healing serpent that Moses raised up in the desert (3.14), or the tender care of the shepherd (10.11ff), or the fruitful seed that falls into the ground and dies (12.24ff), or the slave’s washing of feet (13.1ff). Here the death that takes Jesus away from his friends is his prayer for them, and for all who will believe through their testimony (17.20-26). Anxious as they are in the absence of Jesus, his Passion-as-prayer is the triumph of God’s love for the world over the destructive powers of evil.
John’s audience naturally hears these words as coming from the crucified and risen Christ. Not only does Jesus pray for them, he also prays with them as they are drawn into the offering of his whole life. Here, then, is a new perspective on what it means to ‘ask in my name’: it is to allow our life to be moulded by the vision that shapes his Passion.
As we leave this place, Lord,
may our prayers be just beginning.
May our worship, our time here,
what we have learned and what we have discovered,
lead us into action and lives full of worship
every hour of every day.
We ask in the name of Jesus,
whose whole life was an offering of worship to you.
Gospel Reading for Sunday 9th May
I love you just as the Father loves me; remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you. The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them. And you are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father. You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name. This, then, is what I command you: love one another.
This week’s readings describe the impact of the crucified and risen Jesus, and the coming of the Spirit, in different ways: in Acts 10, as boundary-crossing hospitality; in 1 John 5, as the birth of family love; and here as the gift of friendship. But this is not the naturally occurring friendship that people choose for themselves or that ‘just happens’ among those who share similar interests; rather it is a gracious gift. Jesus’ surprising friends are his ‘chosen people’ (v.16), and like Israel they are bound together by covenant love. The friends of Jesus are fundamentally loved, as he is loved (v.9). It is this love, with its associated joy (v.11), that holds them together – a gift to be cherished rather than a prize to be pursued.
Verse 14 might suggest otherwise. But in the tradition of Moses, which these chapters (13 to 17) of John reinterpret in the light of Jesus, keeping God’s commandments is never intended as a way of procuring divine favour. Life shaped by Law is the response of love to greater Love. And so here: ‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you…my joy is in you…I chose you…I appointed you…I have made known to you’. Jesus’ friends are those who realise that the centre of gravity of their life together is intended to lie outside of them. So, whatever they ‘ask him in my name’ will be shaped by Jesus’ (new) commandments, and will issue in the response of love to greater love, ‘fruit that will last’ (v.16), because it is the food of eternal life.
What kind of friendships do you have? You might be a friend of a local community group. On Facebook, people probably ask you to be friends. You might, by virtue of membership, be a ‘Friend of the Earth’. You might still be in touch with a few friends from school, even if you haven’t seen them for years. Perhaps you have a weekly meet with friends at the pub, or at weekends, with another set of friends, you go to watch your favourite sports team. Some friendships are deep and lasting, others come and go. There are different kinds of friendship. What kind of friend do you have with Jesus?
Lord Jesus, we rejoice
that you have chosen us to be your friends.
Help us to be a friend to you by obeying your commands.
As we go out into your world,
help us to live a life that reflects your love,
by being a friend to others.
Gospel Reading for Sunday 2nd May
“I am the real vine, and my Father is the gardener. He breaks off every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit, so that it will be clean and bear more fruit. You have been made clean already by the teaching I have given you. Remain united to me, and I will remain united to you. A branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it can do so only if it remains in the vine. In the same way you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine, and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me. Those who do not remain in me are thrown out like a branch and dry up; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, where they are burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, then you will ask for anything you wish, and you shall have it. My Father’s glory is shown by your bearing much fruit; and in this way you become my disciples.
At various point during the coronavirus pandemic we have been encouraged, urged, and for a time required, to stay at home. How do we ‘stay home’ (abide, remain) with God? The purpose during the pandemic was, to quote the UK government’s well repeated slogan, to ‘protect the NHS’ and ‘save lives’. Jesus’ aim is that we might grow and ‘bear fruit’, and he says this is not possible unless we remain connected with him and each other, like branches on a vine. During lockdown, people found new ways to stay connected to one another (e.g. by using technology in new ways). Churches found new ways to be and to worship together, new ways to ‘stay home’ with God. What have we learnt from those experiences that endures? Are there yet more new ways of connecting to explore?
As we leave this place,
may we abide with God,
grafted and rooted and pruned.
Lord, help us to stay connected to one another and to you,
bearing fruit wherever your love takes us.
Gospel Reading for Sunday 25th April
“I am the good shepherd, who is willing to die for the sheep. When the hired man, who is not a shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees a wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and runs away; so the wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them. The hired man runs away because he is only a hired man and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd. As the Father knows me and I know the Father, in the same way I know my sheep and they know me. And I am willing to die for them. There are other sheep which belong to me that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them, too; they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock with one shepherd. “The Father loves me because I am willing to give up my life, in order that I may receive it back again. No one takes my life away from me. I give it up of my own free will. I have the right to give it up, and I have the right to take it back. This is what my Father has commanded me to do.”
Jesus’ parable draws on the examples of Moses (Exodus 3.1ff) and David (2 Samuel 5.2). In Ezekiel 34, Israel’s leaders, both good and bad, are shepherds. Jesus’ image is both pastoral and political. Who might be the hired hands in his parable, who care nothing for the sheep? A wide range of leaders, then and now, fit the bill.
What qualifies Jesus to be ‘the good shepherd’? Three times he draws attention to his readiness to risk his own life to protect his flock (vv.11,15,17). ‘Laying down’ and ‘taking up’ his life is the shepherd’s daily habit of lying across the gate of the sheepfold at night to protect the flock and rising each morning to lead them to pasture (vv.17-18). It is also the shape of God’s grace that descends from heaven in the Word made flesh before being exalted to the Father’s heart in the cross (John 1.1-18; 12.32). Shepherd-like care enables shepherd and sheep to know each other in a knowledge that reflects Jesus’ relationship with the God he calls ‘Father’.
This shepherd is good enough to see further than his beloved flock. ‘Other sheep’ graze pastures that lie beyond the boundaries of respectability and race. In this Gospel, they are represented by the Samaritan woman, the critically ill, the disabled poor and the woman caught committing adultery. There is room for them too in the ‘one flock’.
How does Jesus model what good shepherding is like? The shepherd shows the cost of caring by laying down his life. The shepherd knows us. The shepherd is inherently good. The shepherd is faithful to his sheep – he doesn’t abandon them (us) when life gets tough. The shepherd is faithful to, and keeps in close contact with, God. The shepherd is in control. The shepherd searches out the lost. How can we mirror these attributes as a loving community serving God?
Gospel Reading for Sunday 18th April
While the two were telling them this, suddenly the Lord himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were terrified, thinking that they were seeing a ghost. But he said to them, “Why are you alarmed? Why are these doubts coming up in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet, and see that it is I myself. Feel me, and you will know, for a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones, as you can see I have.”
He said this and showed them his hands and his feet.They still could not believe, they were so full of joy and wonder; so he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of cooked fish, which he took and ate in their presence.
Then he said to them, “These are the very things I told you about while I was still with you: everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the writings of the prophets, and the Psalms had to come true.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “This is what is written: the Messiah must suffer and must rise from death three days later, and in his name the message about repentance and the forgiveness of sins must be preached to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
The two disciples have just arrived back in Jerusalem from Emmaus and are sharing their story with Jesus’ other followers. We can imagine a mixture of exhilaration and exhaustion. Notice the disciples’ jumble of feelings as Jesus appears (vv.37-38,41) – for the first time in this Gospel – to the disciples in Jerusalem. Luke’s stress on the physicality of resurrection (vv.39,42-43) is a reminder that what the disciples see is not the product of strong emotions, wishful thinking or creative imagination. The risen Jesus certainly appeals to feelings, hopes, thoughts and actions, yet without being generated by them. The direction of travel in the Easter stories is always from the heavenly grace that raised Jesus from the dead to the earthly realities of hospitality and testimony that once characterised Jesus’ ministry and now shape the unexpected mission of his followers.
The repeated reference to the Scriptures (‘the law of Moses, the prophets and the psalms’ in verse 44 signifies Scripture as a whole) in these narratives confirms this sense of direction. It isn’t that Jesus performs the details of a script written in advance for him. That would rob him of his capacity to respond freely to God’s Spirit. Jews saw their Scriptures as revealing the purposes of God, for all creation and all people. They grew out of Israel’s various responses to God’s gracious call. The Scriptures as a whole find their fulfilment in Jesus in the sense that their account of divine grace and human response converges on the whole story of Jesus, from beginning to end. This has been the central conviction of Christian faith from the earliest times. Like the appearances of the risen Jesus in these stories, it continues to address our feelings, hopes, imagination, reflection and action.
Spend a few moments thinking about what stands out for you from the Bible reading. This idea may help.
Carmine Gallo is a Harvard University communication expert who analysed the 500 most popular TED talks. He noticed that, on average, 65 per cent of their content was stories. His conclusion? Stories are more persuasive because they resonate with our emotions. This sheds light on one of the ways Jesus fulfils Scripture. The Bible is full of stories about God’s involvement in the world. Jesus fulfils Scripture because its stories resonate with his, just as his stories resonate with ours. Listen out for those resonances; it is in those moments that the Bible is most likely to surprise or console or challenge us.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Peace be with you’ –
they responded with turmoil.
Jesus said, ‘Have you anything to eat?’ –
they served him fish.
Jesus opened their minds –
they became his witnesses.
So, Lord, may we too find peace in your service,
with opened minds and hearts on fire.
Gospel Reading for Sunday 11th April
It was late that Sunday evening, and the disciples were gathered together behind locked doors, because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities. Then Jesus came and stood among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. After saying this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (called the Twin), was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the scars of the nails in his hands and put my finger on those scars and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later the disciples were together again indoors, and Thomas was with them. The doors were locked, but Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop your doubting, and believe!” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Do you believe because you see me? How happy are those who believe without seeing me!” In his disciples’ presence Jesus performed many other miracles which are not written down in this book. But these have been written in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through your faith in him you may have life.
Spend a few moments thinking about what stands out for you from the Bible reading. This idea may help.
‘I doubt it’. ‘Such a dubious character’. ‘It’s doubtful’. So often we make doubt seem so negative. But it needn’t be. When I doubt my test results, I discuss them with my doctor. When I doubt the safety of some electrical equipment, I have it checked. Doubt is essential when something really matters. Doubt is not taking for granted what I’m told or assume or believe. It is Thomas doubting what the other disciples said about seeing Jesus alive. It mattered so much that he needed to know for himself. If Easter faith really matters, doubt is essential.
Gospel Reading for Easter Sunday, 4th April
Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the entrance. She went running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” Then Peter and the other disciple went to the tomb. The two of them were running, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and saw the linen cloths, but he did not go in. Behind him came Simon Peter, and he went straight into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there and the cloth which had been around Jesus’ head. It was not lying with the linen cloths but was rolled up by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed (They still did not understand the scripture which said that he must rise from death.) Then the disciples went back home. Mary stood crying outside the tomb. While she was still crying, she bent over and looked in the tomb and saw two angels there dressed in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and the other at the feet. “Woman, why are you crying?” they asked her. She answered, “They have taken my Lord away, and I do not know where they have put him!” Then she turned around and saw Jesus standing there; but she did not know that it was Jesus. “Woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who is it that you are looking for?” She thought he was the gardener, so she said to him, “If you took him away, sir, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned toward him and said in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (This means “Teacher.”) “Do not hold on to me,” Jesus told her, “because I have not yet gone back up to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them that I am returning to him who is my Father and their Father, my God and their God.” So Mary Magdalene went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and related to them what he had told her.
The centrality of a woman in this account is not something that anyone would invent in a world that undervalued the role of women as witnesses. John locates his narrative in real time, during the early hours of ‘the first day of the week’. Mary’s grief is strong enough to draw her to the place where she can be as close as possible to Jesus’ body. She is shocked by what she finds: an obviously disturbed tomb, the body missing, presumed stolen. Two of Jesus’ disciples – both men – believe her anxious report and confirm her story by visiting the tomb for themselves. As yet, its emptiness can only mean that the body has been ‘taken away’.
Mary’s double loss – the companionship of her beloved rabbi, and now his body – is made visible in her inconsolable weeping. Unlike Peter and the other disciple, she stays by the tomb long enough to experience something she hardly expects. She only recognises the figure behind her when he calls her by name, like the good shepherd calling one of his flock. Jesus is within touching distance, but he resists. ‘Do not hold on to me’ suggests a new kind of relationship. ‘Ascending to the Father’ through his passion is the counterpart of the descent of the heavenly ‘Word’. This movement of grace will open up Jesus’ relationship with the God he calls ‘Father’. John’s readers know what this means: the coming of the Spirit to friends who live by the ‘new commandment’ that makes the love of Jesus visible. The foundation of this transforming vision is the astonishing witness of a woman.
Many things offer a ‘touching point’ with something mysterious that seems beyond the normal parameters of life: e.g. art, music, poetry, science and nature. However, we don’t all ‘get’ these things. Perhaps you have had the experience of trying to explain your enthusiasms to someone and being met with a blank look. Or being the one who gave the blank look! Sometimes you can get past this by helping someone else to experience what enthuses you. Experience can do what words can’t. It was the experience of the empty tomb, and then the risen Jesus, that provided a touching place with mystery – the possibility that existence is far bigger than Mary had thought. What achieves that for us today?
Prayer for All Ages
thank you for promising to be with us always.
Help us to remember that promise
when we don’t feel brave enough to be your disciples.
Help us to remember that the first people to know
that you rose from the tomb
were ordinary people like us,
women and men who didn’t feel very brave.
Give us courage to believe and to tell others –
as Mary did – this Easter and always.
|2nd April Good Friday|
St Mark 15: 33-41
|When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, ‘Listen, he is calling for Elijah.’ And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’ Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’ There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.|
This is the day they call good
On this day they call good, they took a man like no other before or since. A man they did not understand; who spoke the truth when it hurt; who denounced; gave offence; defended the poor; healed the sick; touched the untouchable; befriended prostitutes but did not make use of them. A man of integrity – who loved.
On this day they call good, they killed a man. They stripped him naked; beat him with iron-tipped whips till the blood flowed free. They vilified, degraded and abused him, ramming thorns of a caricature crown deep into his skull.
On this day they call good, they tied the man to a rough-hewn wooden cross; drove nails deep into the beams through his wrists and ankles, the sound of ripping flesh drowned by shouts of “Crucify!” The pain of rough, cold iron tearing through sinew and vein lubricated by his blood flowing freely, dulled by the throbbing ache in every part of his body.
On this day they call good, the man was frightened. It had been easy to be brave in that bright, warm room, saying that he had already been anointed for burial. Anointed now by his own sweat, blood and tears he was terrified, hanging there, filled with dread, aghast that he had been abandoned, crying out in fear: “My God, why did you abandon me?”
On this day they call good, he bore the torment; withstood the scorn; endured the pain; suffered in silence almost to the end. Not because he wanted to – but had to. Not pointless, mindless violence inflicted on him. He understood the point of it all too well. Our sin.
On this day they call good, he suffered with such dignity that a pagan soldier recognised him. “Truthfully, this man was a son of God.”
On this day they call good, they crucified a man and revealed our God.
That is why we call this day good.
God, when we are misunderstood, grant us forbearance.
God, when we are injured, grant us assistance.
God, when we are in pain, grant us relief.
God, when we are frightened, grant us reassurance.
God, when we feel abandoned, grant us sustenance.
God, when we finally understand, grant us generosity of spirit.
Source: Daily Devotions from the URC
Gospel Reading for Palm Sunday, 28th March
As they approached Jerusalem, near the towns of Bethphage and Bethany, they came to the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of his disciples on ahead with these instructions: “Go to the village there ahead of you. As soon as you get there, you will find a colt tied up that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. And if someone asks you why you are doing that, say that the Master needs it and will send it back at once.” So they went and found a colt out in the street, tied to the door of a house. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders asked them, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered just as Jesus had told them, and the crowd let them go. They brought the colt to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the animal, and Jesus got on. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches in the field and spread them on the road. The people who were in front and those who followed behind began to shout, “Praise God! God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord! God bless the coming kingdom of King David, our father! Praise be to God!” Jesus entered Jerusalem, went into the Temple, and looked around at everything. But since it was already late in the day, he went out to Bethany with the twelve disciples.
“Riding a horse into Jerusalem and entering its Temple is a very bold prophetic sign, indicating that the promises of Israel’s deliverance are being fulfilled. The two disciples involved in the preparations are told to expect an appropriate response to the Messiah, and this is well expressed in the King James version: ‘ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.’ The ‘many people’ who greet him also understand the significance of the event. There is a celebratory mood, and the response is generous, as they contribute their cloaks. These were valuable items in themselves, worth suing someone for (Matthew 5.40), and worth repairing properly (Matthew 9.16). But they also express Jesus’ significance, recalling the time that, hearing that Jehu was the Lord’s anointed, people ‘hurriedly all took their cloaks and spread them for him on the bare steps; and they blew the trumpet, and proclaimed, “Jehu is king”.’ (2 Kings 9.13). The anointing of kings is also recalled when we remember that the dying David asked that his son Solomon be allowed to ride to Gihon to be anointed and to Jerusalem to be enthroned as king: ‘and all the people went up following him, playing on pipes and rejoicing with great joy’ (1 Kings 1.32-40). The unbroken horse also recalls the new cart and the previously unyoked cows that brought the ark, after its journey from the wilderness, to its final resting place in the sanctuary in Jerusalem (1 Samuel 6.7; 2 Samuel 6.2).”
“By Jesus’ time Psalm 118 was used at festivals, sometimes with palm branches, as a prayer for the restoration of the Davidic kingdom. This is made explicit here by the addition to ’Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord’ (Psalm 118.26) of the interpretation, ‘Blessed be the coming kingdom of our ancestor David.’ Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the Temple, and the prophecy that began to be fulfilled by John the Baptist (Mark 1.2) is completed in Christ: ‘See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his Temple’ (Malachi 3.1).”
Source: Roots Worship and Learning Resources