Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: The Triumphal Entry

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Triumphal Entry

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. We as believers celebrate the "Trimumphal Entry" of Christ into Jerusalem. As Holy Week begins, we look forward with expectation to the day our Lord demonstrates His power over death. We also know the darkness that Good Friday will bring. Below is a small excerpt from a Greek Exegesis paper I wrote last semester. I do not typically get the chance to publish my school work in any way, so I thought I would let the Lair readers get a little glimpse of some of the work I am involved in. Don't worry about the weird words, those are transliterations of Greek words. This section picks up on the command from Jesus to his disciples to go and get a donkey for him to ride. Blessings today!


The assignment for which Jesus sends two of his disciples is not only strange, but also disputed. The nature of Christ’s imperatival command is uncertain, although the purpose seems to be clear. The imperatives poreuesthe and agapete function as the bookends for Jesus’ instruction. The emphasis on “go” and “bring” provides assurance to the disciples for a successful mission. In addition, Matthew uses a volitive future with ereite in verse 3 that serves in effect as an imperative. There is also a grammatical divine ordering usage of euthews found twice in these instructions, one in verse 2 and another in verse 3. This serves to heighten the assurance of the donkey being in its proper place. Two possibilities are given for the nature of these imperatives. First, Jesus could be relying on his supernatural power for the source of this confident assurance. Second, Jesus could have made prior arrangements with the owner of the donkey.

The arguments supporting the second position are two-fold. First, Matthew does not seem to be as concerned with the divine power of Jesus at this point since he omits the material from Mark highlighting the verbatim details of Jesus’ instructions. Mark 11:4 describes the colt being tied in the street exactly as Jesus had described. Had Matthew wanted to emphasize the divine supernatural power of Christ at this point, he would have surely left those details in his account. Second, some scholars believe the phrase ha kurios autwn creian exei is in effect a password created by Jesus prior to his arrival. Once the disciples spoke this phrase, the owner would know Jesus was in town and needed the donkey. Regardless of the substantiality of this claim, the kurios in this verse clearly stands as a double entendre. The owner of the donkey would have understood the disciples to be speaking of their master or lord, but they were also speaking of the Lord God.

Arguments for the divine foreknowledge of Christ in this setting reject the password theory, arguing that since Jesus made a provision with the disciples concerning the task, he was anticipating some kind of objection. If prior arrangements had been made, it is probable that the owner would not object. The more important argument is in the context of 21:2-3. Matthew’s focus in the introductory text of 20:29-34 and his triad of Jesus’ authority in chapter 23 are clear expositions of the divine power and messianic fulfillment of Jesus. With the triumphal entry serving as the soon coming completion of the eschatological fulfillment and messianic kingship of Christ, Matthew would have had Jesus’ supernatural nature in play here and not his pragmatic fortitude.

5 Comments:

Blogger Mike Ruffin said...

Another connection between 20:29-34and 21:1-11 is the labelling of Jesus as "Son of David." The two blind men said "Have mercy on us, Son of David," apparently calling out in faith and hope, and, as a result, their eyes were opened. That can be contrasted with the crowds in 21:1-11 who declared him "Son of David" but who needed to have their eyes opened as to what that meant. The same idea is at play in 21:14-17.

More to the point of your post--while you may well be right about Matthew meaning to emphasize the divine authority of Jesus, which is made very clear in other places, we do know that, according to Matthew, Jesus did sometimes make prior arrangements, as when he sent his disciples to make arrangements for their Passover meal. He even gave them the words that they were to say to the man. I wouldn't call it a "password" in that case, but it's an instruction nonetheless.

Either way, Jesus rode that donkey (or rode both the donkey and the colt, but that's another problem) and thereby set off the events of that week that changed everything.

March 17, 2008 12:17 PM  
Blogger The Beast said...

Mike,

I see you are still on top of the game from the professor aspect (I feel so sorry that students at Belmont no longer have the opportunity to learn under you)

I am emailing you the full 13 pages of this work. Please don't feel obligated to read it, but I address both the Son of David references and the donkey riding issue, to which the church fathers had an absolutely hilarious interpretation.

March 17, 2008 12:36 PM  
Blogger The Beast said...

By the way, I am happy to email the full paper to anyone who would like to read my full argument. Just let me know.

March 17, 2008 12:42 PM  
Blogger Mike Ruffin said...

Thanks, Philip. I will look forward to reading it. As an old Zechariah scholar (I'm not as old as Zechariah), by which I mean I wrote my dissertation on that book, I'm always interested in what folks make of Zeke's parallelism. Blessings to you!

March 17, 2008 3:12 PM  
Blogger Tom Wilkinson said...

Beast, I would like to read your full paper if you do not mind emailing it to me. tomwilkinson1958 gmail.com

March 17, 2008 3:52 PM  

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