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Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Passion Sunday - Liturgy of the Palms - March 20, 2016



Saint Dominic contemplating the Scriptures Saint Dominic contemplating the Scriptures
Author's note:
Sometimes I have material left over when I edit Comments down to fit the available space. This page presents notes that landed on the clipping room floor. Some may be useful to you. While I avoid technical language in the Comments (or explain special terms), Clippings may have unexplained jargon from time to time.

A hypertext Glossary of Terms is integrated with Clippings. Simply click on any highlighted word in the text and a pop-up window will appear with a definition. Bibliographic references are also integrated in the same way.

Luke 19:28-40

Verses 11-27: Comments on the Parable of the Pounds

In Luke, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is preceded by the Parable of the Pounds. Luke tells us that he tells this parable “because he [Jesus] was near Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately” (v. 11). A nobleman “went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return” (v. 12). Before leaving, he gives some of his slaves ten pounds each with which they are to “Do business” (v. 13, invest) until he returns. Some “citizens” (v. 14) do not want him to rule over them. He returns, with “royal power” (v. 15); he asks three of the slaves what “they had gained by trading”: one has doubled the money, a second has gained 50%, but the third has just kept the money safe. The king rewards the first two, but he takes away the money from the third one, for failing to take risk, and gives it to one who gained most.

Jesus makes three points in the parable: (1) those who oppose his rule are to be judged harshly; (2) being a good steward of the good news (and taking risks for the Kingdom) is expected, otherwise one may be cut off from God; and (3) Christ will return to establish God’s kingdom, but not immediately.

The Parable of the Talents is found in Matthew 25:14-30. Luke has combined it with another parable about acquisition of a kingdom. There allegorizing is much more evident. The parable of the pounds is in vv. 12-13, 15b-26; that of the kingdom is in vv. 12, 14-15a, 27. They overlap in some verses. If we remove the details about acquiring the kingdom from Luke, we see a parable which is very close to the Parable of the Talents. [ JBC]

Luke places the parable in the period after the Ascension and before the Second Coming. The kingdom story reflects many details about Jesus: departure from the land, rejection by his people, punishment of his people, and their loss of privileges, the administration of the Kingdom by the disciples, the expansion of the Kingdom, and Jesus’ eventual return. [ JBC]

This parable appears in a modified form in the Gospel of the Nazareans . There one servant wastes the money on harlots, one increases it by trading, and one hides it and earns nothing. [ JBC]

Verses 12,14,15: These verses closely parallel the details of the journey of Archelaus, son of Herod the Great, to Rome in 4 BC. He sought the Emperor’s ratification of his hereditary claim to rule all the territory his father governed. A Jewish delegation promptly appeared before Caesar Augustus to protest. He was refused the title of king, and only received control over Judea and Samaria. [ CCB] [ JBC] [ Blomberg]

Verse 13: “ten of his slaves”: The story only tells us the judgement the nobleman makes of three of them. [ NOAB]

Verse 13: “ten pounds”: The master in the Parable of the Talents give much more money to the servants. There he gives at least 75, 30 and 15 years of wages for a labourer; here he gives about 100 days of wages. [ NOAB] The smaller sums here indicate that the nobleman wishes to see whether his servants can be trusted with much larger sums in the future. [ JBC] In v. 17, the nobleman says that the money handed out is “a very small thing”.

Verse 17: In 16:10 (the Parable of the Dishonest Manager), Jesus says “‘Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much’”. [ NOAB]

Verse 20: “a piece of cloth”: In the Parable of the Pounds, the unresourceful servant can hide the money in a piece of cloth, but in the Parable of the Talents it is large enough that he buries it. [ JBC]

Verse 21: “‘I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man”: This is simply part of the story; we should not seek something for which it stands. [ JBC]

Verse 21: “ you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow”: Probably a current proverbial expression for a grasping person. [ NOAB]

Verses 22-24: While Jewish law commended the burial of money spoke of safeguarding the trust of a friend or client, it did not specify an appropriate way of dealing with money intended for investment, the intention of the nobleman in v. 13. So the behaviour of the third servant was foolish. Thus neither the action of the servant, nor the response of the nobleman, is implausible. [ Blomberg]

Verse 26: Luke has already presented this saying in 8:18 (the importance of hearing with understanding). Its original setting has been lost. [ JBC]

Verse 26: Matthew 13:12 is similar. See also 8:18; Matthew 25:29; Mark 4:24-25. [ NOAB]

Verse 27: The intention to slaughter those opposed to the nobleman’s rule suggests an allegorical meaning, where the nobleman stands for God, and the servants for various kinds of people. God rewards generously and will judge sternly. [ Blomberg]

Verses 28-44: The parallels are Matthew 21:1-9 Mark 11:1-10; John 12:12-18. [ NOAB]

Verse 28: At the Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah “were speaking of his [Jesus’] departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem” ( 9:31). [ NJBC]

Verse 30: “colt”: See also Genesis 49:11 (rule of Judah over the twelve tribes) and I Kings 1:38 (Solomon rides a mule to his anointing as king). [ JBC]

Verse 36: “spreading their cloaks on the road”: A brief chronology:

  • Ahab becomes king of Israel, the northern kingdom (1 Kings 16:29)
  • Ahab marries Jezebel, promoting the worship of Baal (1 Kings 16:31-32)
  • Pagan worship permeates Israel. Elijah demonstrates that Yahweh is superior to Baal (1 Kings 18:20-40)
  • God commands Elijah to anoint Jehu as king of Israel (1 Kings 19:16)
  • Ahab dies in battle (1 Kings 22:29-40). He is succeeded by his son Ahaziah. Pagan worship continues.
  • Elijah ascends to heaven, Elisha succeeds him, and takes on his responsibilities, including the anointing Jehu as king (2 Kings 2:1-18).
  • Joram succeeds Ahaziah. Baal worship continues (2 Kings 3:1-3)
  • Elisha sends one of his disciples to anoint Jehu as king, during a military council. (2 Kings 9:1-10).
  • When Jehu tells his fellow commanders that he has been anointed king, they throw their cloaks on the ground before him and proclaim him king (2 Kings 9:11-13).
  • Jehu eliminates pagan worship from Israel by killing (or having killed) Joram, Jezebel, Ahab’s descendants, and many worshippers of Baal (2 Kings 9:14-10:31). Worship of Yahweh is restored.

Verse 37: “the path down from the Mount of Olives”: The road traverses a ridge into the valley of the Kidron. [ NOAB]

Verse 37: “deeds of power”: i.e. the cures witnessed up to this time. [ JBC] A summary statement of Jesus’ ministry to the blind, lame, crippled, and poor – in fulfilment of Scripture. See slo 4:18-19 (Jesus reads from Isaiah in the synagogue at Nazareth) and 7:22 (Jesus answers emissaries from John the Baptizer). [ NJBC]

Verse 38: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord’”: In the Greek, this is a quotation from Psalm 117:26 in the Septuagint translation (118 in the NRSV), with two changes:

  • Luke omits the Aramaic word Hosanna (meaning save us) perhaps because it would be unintelligible to a Gentile audience [ BlkLk]
  • He changes kingdom to “king”, focussing on the person of Jesus. [ JBC]

In 13:35, Jesus says: “you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”. [ NOAB]

Verse 40: By silencing the disciples of Jesus, their persecutors will witness a still more resounding judgement that will come upon them in the destruction of the city and of the Temple. [ JBC]

The Babylonian Talmud, commenting on Habakkuk 2:11, says “Perhaps you will say, ‘Who witnesses against me? The stones and boards of a man’s house witness against him’”. [ JBC]

Verse 41: In 13:33, Jesus says “Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem”. [ NOAB]

Verse 41: “wept”: The Greek word, klaio, registers deep emotion. Seldom does Luke reveal such anguished emotion in Jesus. [ JBC] 13:33-34

Verse 42: “that make for peace”: The peace proclaimed by the “disciples” in v. 38 is not acceptable; yet peace shall come, but only through the most tragic sorrow and sternest detachment. [ JBC]

Verses 43-44: These verses appear to show that Luke was written before the destruction by the Romans in 70 AD, but this may not be the case. [ BlkLk] Luke draws imagery and language from Jeremiah: in v. 43 from Jeremiah 6:6, and in v. 44 from Jeremiah 6:21, 17. [ JBC] The prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem includes the methods the Romans will use to besiege the city and starve the inhabitants. [ CCB]

Verse 43: See also 21:20-24 (“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near ...”); 21:6 (“As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down”), Isaiah 29:3; Ezekiel 4:2 (prophecy of the siege of Jerusalem in 586 BC). [NOAB]

Vere 43: “ramparts”: A palisade, that would keep out all supplies of food. [ NOAB]

Verse 44: “children”: The word includes all the inhabitants. [ NJBC]

Verse 44: “ they will not leave within you one stone upon another”: Haggai 2:15 uses this expression to describe the building of a marvellous Temple in the future (Haggai 2:6-9). [ JBC]

Verse 44: “the time of your visitation”: the time of Christ’s ministry. [ NOAB]

Psalm 118:1-2,19-29

In Jewish liturgical tradition, Psalms 113-118 were used in connection with the great festivals. At the Passover, Psalms 113-14 were sung before the meal, and Psalms 115-118 were sung after it. [ NOAB]

JBC sees this psalm as not involving a king.

Verse 1: See also 106:1; 107:1; 136:1. Note that v. 29 repeats this verse, forming an envelope round the psalm. [ NJBC]

Verses 2-4: “Let Israel say ... Let the house of Aaron say ... Let those who fear the Lord say ...”: These are probably actual directions to the various groups in the congregation. [ NOAB] The same sequence is found in 115:9-11. A similar sequence appears in 135:19-20. [ NJBC]

Verse 3: “house of Aaron”: i.e. the priests. [ NOAB]

Verse 4: “those who fear the Lord”: To CAB, Gentile converts.

Verse 6: This verse is quoted in Hebrews 13:6. [ NOAB]

Verses 10-14: While it is difficult to be sure whether the language in these verses is literal or figurative, it is tenable that the speaker is a king who has come to the Temple to offer thanks for a victory. [ NOAB]

Verses 10-13: The desperateness of the king’s situation. [ NOAB]

Verse 19: “gates of righteousness”: This may have been the actual name of a gate of the Temple. [ NJBC]

Verse 20: A voice from within replies that only the qualified may enter the Temple. Psalms 15 and 24:3-6 state who may enter the Temple. [ NOAB]

Verses 21-22: The king answers that God has borne witness to his character by delivering him (see also 18:20-24) when others have given him up. [ NOAB]

Verses 22-29: To CAB, these verses tell of the people’s acclaim of the one who earlier had been rejected by the ruling monarch. This was David’s experience at the hand of Saul: see 1 Samuel 19:31. He is now installed as God’s chosen ruler over his people.

Verses 23-24: These verses are frequently quoted in the New Testament, e.g. Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11; 1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:7-8. They were very important for the early Church in their attempt to understand the rejection and execution of Jesus by his people. [ NOAB] [ NJBC]

Verses 23-25: The choir joyously acknowledges what God has done. [ NOAB]

Verse 24: “made”: NJBC offers acted. He points out that the Hebrew word is the same one as is translated as “does” in vv. 15-16. The reference is to some act of Yahweh to save his people or to punish the wicked. See also 119:126.

Verse 25: “Save us”: The Hebrew word is Hoshianna (Hosanna). [ NOAB]

Verses 26-27: The suppliant is admitted with a choral blessing. [ NOAB]

Verse 26: To NJBC, these words were probably spoken by the priests, welcoming the righteous into the Temple.

Verse 26: “in the name of the Lord”: This recalls the battle context of vv. 10-14. [ NJBC]

Verse 27a: There is an allusion here to the priestly blessing of Numbers 6:22-27. [ NJBC]

Verse 27b: This may be a liturgical direction. [ NOAB] To CAB, the branches touching the altar symbolise the worshippers sharing in the power and blessing of God, who is enthroned there. To NJBC, the mention of “procession” and “branches” brings to mind the Feast of Tabernacles, in which olive branches were used.

Verse 28: The king makes his act of thanksgiving. [ NOAB] This verse paraphrases Exodus 15:2b. [ NJBC]

Verse 29: The choir begins a hymn of praise. Psalm 136:26 is similar. [ NOAB]

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