Marginally Mark, by Brian McGowan, Anglican priest in Western Australia.
General Resources for Sunday's Lessons
Special Resources for the Reading of the Passion
O God, for whom all things are possible, you have highly exalted your suffering Servant, who did not hide from insult but humbled himself even to death on a cross. As we begin the journey of Holy Week, take our sin away by Christ's glorious passion and confirm our worship and witness, so that when we proclaim the name of Jesus, every knee shall bend and every tongue proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord. We ask this through Christ, with whom you have raised us up in baptism, the Lord who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.
From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year B, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.
Some Thoughts on Mark 11:1-11
Online NRSV Text
How will you bear witness to Jesus' passion and resurrection? How will you walk the way with Jesus this week?
Encourage your people to attend the pilgrim journey through Holy Week. Dare to preach the passion narrative as it comes. Resist the "cliff notes" version of preaching Good Friday's message Sunday. Invite people back and invite them into the life journey of Jesus as experienced in our liturgy this week.
So then, what to do with our passage from Mark 11? This carefully constructed passage parallels 14:12-16; and provides for an understanding that what is taking place is of central importance to Jesus ministry.
He has been very clear from the beginning of his ministry (in Mark's Gospel) that to walk the Way (the reoccurring theme of this Gospel) is to walk towards the cross. This is true for Jesus' own ministry. It is true in the life and ministry of all those who would follow him. Here in this passage the pilgrim way of walking leads directly to Jerusalem and to the Temple. Therefore the way is tied inextricably to the faithful traditions of our Abrahamic ancestors and will in the end unleash God's presence in the world, God's embrace of the world. The triumphal entry is the point at which walking the way TO the cross arrives on the doorstep of Jerusalem to become the the way OF the cross.
The entrance rite is royal (see Genesis 49:10-11 and Zechariah 9:9). This is an eschatological and messianic reign that is being unfurled into time. The stage and the plan are underway and the unfurling of a new creation and new order of living is at hand.
From Psalm 118 comes the imagery of a new Davidic reign. The gates are open and the people fervently receive their king; yet as the reader know this crown will be laid upon the king not in victorious triumph but complete and utter powerlessness. The worlds undoing and recreation will come from an explicit rejection of power as this world deals it out and an embrace of forgiveness and grace of which the world had yet to behold.
Note in this Gospel there is not cleansing of the Temple but only an embrace. Jesus enters, and retires to rest.
And, so we begin. We make our journey. We choose to follow Jesus along the way of the cross. We pledge fidelity not to power which overcomes, but a power which will yield unto death. Unlike those who met Jesus at the gate, we greet him this Sunday knowing that only complete submission and not a powerful revolution brings about the creative cataclysm. And, we rehearse, remind, and remake our way to the foot of the cross as a reminder that our Christian way is clearly marked by grace, mercy, and forgiveness - and not by authority, power, and abuse.
So, I charge you to remember, Walk with determination turning your hearts and minds to the actions of God. A God who went suffered pain, and entered was crucified. By walking in the way of the cross, may you find a blessing, and a way of life, and a way of and peace.