Archive for the ‘Matthew 21’ Tag

Devotion for the Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday, Year A (Humes)   3 comments

Above:  Triumphal Entry

Image in the Public Domain

A Faithful Response, Part II

APRIL 14, 2019


The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Liturgy of the Palms:

Matthew 21:1-11

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

Eucharistic Liturgy:

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Psalm 31:9-16

Philippians 2:1-13

Matthew 27:1-66


Rejoice, heart and soul, daughter of Zion!

Shout with gladness, daughter of Jerusalem!

See now, your king comes to you;

he is victorious, he is triumphant,

humble and riding on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

He will banish chariots from Ephraim

and horses from Jerusalem;

the bow of war will be banished.

He will proclaim peace for the nations.

His empire shall stretch from sea to sea,

from the River to the ends of the earth.

–Zechariah 9:9–10, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)


The author of the Gospel of Matthew invoked that image of the triumphant Messiah on the Day of the Lord when crafting the account of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.  The procession was just one parade into the city that day; there was also a Roman military parade.  The separation of religion, state, and oppression did not exist, especially in Jerusalem during the time of Passover, the annual celebration of God’s deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt.  At the first Passover animal blood prompted the angel of death to pass over the Hebrew homes and delivered Hebrews from the consequences of sins of Egyptians.

Two of the assigned readings seem ironic on Palm/Passion Sunday.  Isaiah 50:4-11, set in the context of the latter days of the Babylonian Exile, teaches that (1) the Hebrew nation’s suffering was just, and (2) righteous exiles accepted that.  Yet we Christians hold that Jesus was blameless, without sin.  The suffering author of Psalm 31 ultimately affirms trust in God.  Yet we read in Matthew 27 that Jesus perceived that God had forsaken him.  My analysis is twofold:  (1) Many passages of scripture prove to be appropriate for a variety of circumstances, and (2) much of the Biblical narrative is paradoxical.

Philippians 2 and Matthew 27, taken together, affirm the humility and obedience of Jesus.  We should follow Christ’s example, we read in Philippians 2.  That is a high calling, and perhaps a fatal one.

The vision of Zechariah 9:9-10 has yet to become reality.  Until then we must trust in God, despite how foolish doing so might seem, and persevere in humility and obedience to God.









Devotion for the Twenty-Third Day of Lent (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Above:  The Wicked Husbandmen

Genesis and Mark, Part XXI:  Reconciliation Versus Destruction

MARCH 28, 2022


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 42:1-34, 38

Psalm 119:73-80 (Morning)

Psalms 121 and 6 (Evening)

Mark 12:1-12


A Related Post:



Selling anyone into slavery is a wicked act.  That statement seems self-evident, does it not?  Yet that is what Joseph’s brothers plotted to do to him.  And so he went to Egypt involuntarily.  Years later, with severe famine widespread, most of these brothers met Joseph again without recognizing him.  And he tested them while setting in motion plans for a family reunion.  In return for wickedness there was grace, even if it wore a disguise.

In contrast we have the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, which we find in all three Synoptic Gospels.  (It also appears in Matthew 21:33-46 and Luke 20:9-19.)  The chronology in each case is quite similar:  It is Holy Week, Jesus having expelled the money changers from the Temple recently.  The accounts from Mark and Luke end in the same way, more or less, as does that of Matthew, but the latter adds an explicit wrinkle left implicit in the other Gospels:

I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.

–Matthew 21:43, The New Jerusalem Bible

This is a troublesome parable.  God looks like an absentee landlord who demands the fruits of other’s labor.  So one might sympathize with the frustrations, if not the violence, of the wicked tenants.  Yet that is beside the point.  In textual context, Jesus is the murdered son and the Temple authorities are the wicked tenants.  Read in the context of the First Jewish War and the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, events in the shadows of which the canonical Gospels exist, the Christians (many of them Jewish at the time) are the new tenants.

Such stories have become fodder for Anti-Semites.  This is most unfortunate.  I reject hatred toward any group of people, especially the Jews, the truck of the tree onto which my branch, the Gentiles, is grafted, by grace.

So we have two responses to evil:  reconciliation and destruction.  The latter attitude, as reflected in the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, is understandable in the context of the long and messy separation of Christianity from Judaism.  The earliest canonical Gospel, Mark, dates to no earlier than 67 CE.  John, likely the latest one, probably comes from the 90s.  Mutual anger, resentment, and misunderstanding characterized the parting of the ways between Judaism and Christianity, its offspring.  The canonical Gospels are documents from that particular era, so they reflect the time of their origin.  We humans recall and retell the past in the context of our present; the Gospels are consistent with this rule.

Reconciliation is preferable to destruction, anger, resentment, and misunderstanding.  It is not always possible, for reconciliation is a mutual state.  Yet, if reconciliation does prove impossible because one party is unwilling, the willing party can forgive and refuse to hold a grudge any longer, if at all.  And that is better than mutual hostility.  Did Jesus condemn from the cross?  No, he forgave!  May we, by grace, follow his example and forgive–reconcile, if possible.







Fifteenth Day of Lent   12 comments

A Vineyard

Friday, March 18, 2022

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Lesser Feasts and Fasts Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints


Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor


Genesis 37:3-4, 12-28 (Revised English Bible):

Because Joseph was a child of his old age, Israel loved him best of all his sons, and he made him a long robe with sleeves.  When his brothers saw that their father loved him best, it aroused their hatred and they had nothing but harsh words for him.

Joseph’s brothers had gone to herd their father’s flocks at Shechem.  Israel said to  him,

Your brothers are herding the flocks at Shechem; I am going to send you to them.

Joseph answered,

I am ready to go.

Israel told him to go and see if all was well with his brothers and flocks, and to bring back word to him.  So Joseph was sent off from the vale of Hebron and came to Shechem, where a man met him wandering in the open field and asked him what he was looking for.

I am looking for my brothers,

he replied.

Can you tell me where they are herding the flocks?

The man said,

They have moved from here; I heard them speak of going to Dothan.

Joseph went after his brothers and came up with them at Dothan.  They saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.

Here comes that dreamer,

they said to one another.

Now is our chance; let us kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns; we can say that a wild beast has devoured him.  Then we shall see what becomes of his dreams.

When Reuben heard, he came to his [Joseph’s] rescue, urging them not to take his [Joseph’s] life.

Let us have no bloodshed

he said.

Throw him into the cistern in the wilderness, but do him no injury.

Reuben meant to rescue him from their clutches in order to restore him to his father.  When Joseph reached his brothers, they stripped him of the long robe with sleeves which he was wearing, picked him up, and threw him into the cistern.  It was empty, with no water in it.

They had sat down to eat when looking up, they saw an Ishmaelite caravan coming from Gilead on the way down to Egypt, with camels carrying gum tragacanth and balm and myrrh.  Judah said to his brothers,

What do we gain from killing our brother and concealing his death? Why not sell him to these Ishmaelites?  Let us do him no harm, for after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood;

his brothers agreed.  Meanwhile some passing Midianite merchants drew Joseph  up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites; they brought Joseph to Egypt.

Psalm 105:16-22 (Revised English Bible):

He [the LORD] called down famine on the land and cut off their daily bread.

But he had sent on a man before them, Joseph, who was sold into slavery,

where they thrust his feet into fetters and clamped an iron collar round his neck.

He was tested by the LORD’s command until what he foretold took place.

The king sent and had him released, the ruler of the people set him free

and made him master of his household, ruler over all his possessions,

to correct his officers as he saw fit and teach his counsellors wisdom.

Matthew 21:33-46 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus said,]

Listen to another parable.  There was a landowner who planted a vineyard: he put a wall round it, hewed out a wine-press, and built a watch-tower; then he let it out to vine-growers and went abroad.  When the harvest season approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect the produce due to him.  But they seized his servants, thrashed one, killed another, and stoned a third.  Again, he sent other servants, this time a larger number; and they treated them in the same way.  Finally he sent his son.  ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.  But when they saw the son the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come on, let us kill him, and get his inheritance.’  So they seized him, flung him out of the vineyard, and killed him.  When the owner of the vineyard comes, how do you think he will deal with those tenants?  ‘He will bring those bad men to a bad end,’ they answered, ‘and hand the vineyard over to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop when the season comes.’  Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the main corner-stone.  This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful in our eyes”?  Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and given to a nation that yields the proper fruit.’

When the chief priests and Pharisees heard his parables they saw that he was referring to them.  They wanted to arrest him, but were afraid of the crowds, who looked on Jesus as a prophet.

The Collect:

Grant, O Lord, that as your Son Jesus Christ prayed for his enemies on the cross, so we may have grace to forgive those who wrongfully or scornfully use us, that we ourselves may be able to receive your forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


This day we have two stories of jealousy and malefaction.

The Joseph Epic from Genesis was the first Biblical story I read in depth, in July 1988.  Thus I have great fondness for this saga.  Joseph, a younger brother, was his father’s favorite.  The young man received a supervisor’s garment and a special status.  This fact, combined with his chattering about dreams favorable to him, infuriated his brothers, most of whom took out their jealousy on him.  They meant to kill him, but settled on sending him into slavery in Egypt.  With family members like this, who needs enemies?

Later in the narrative Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams places him in the good graces of the Pharaoh, who promotes him to a high position.  And from that office Joseph has an opportunity to punish his brothers or to help and forgive them.  He chooses the latter action.

The Matthew Gospel is a product of marginalized Jewish Christians who had lost the argument for Jesus within their Jewish community.  This fact is essential to understanding that book and this day’s excerpt from it.  God owned the vineyard, the vineyard was the Jewish nation, the prophets were the servants, and Jesus was the murdered son.  So, who were the wicked tenants?

Let us avoid anti-Semitism.  In the text Jesus addresses not all Jews, but “chief priests and elders” in the Temple.  The Jesus of Matthew (unlike the Jesus of Mark) is a proponent of Torah piety, but not the religious authorities.  (The Jesus of Mark opposes the Temple system and Torah piety.)  I conclude that at the time the wicked tenants were those at the Temple who collaborated with the Roman Empire.  More broadly though, the wicked tenants were the bad leaders of the Jewish nation and people over time.

Consider this , also.  Joseph’s brothers and the wicked tenants acted out of jealousy.  Negative emotions lead to bad deeds or the absence of good deeds, and positive emotions culminate in constructive actions.  Yet, God can use even the circumstances we create via our malefaction to bring about positive results.  That demonstrates divine sovereignty.


Written on February 24, 2010

Posted October 28, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2022, Episcopal Church Lectionary, March 18

Tagged with , ,