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April 01, 2004



Thanks for the careful comparisons of texts (I was looking for this somewhere!) as well as for the wise cautions. I have been doing a "community Bible study" during Year C on Luke and have emphasized the differences b/w gospel texts. You give me pause -- perhaps just letting the differences set the tone and not play "parlor games." Have a blessed Holy Week!

Ruth Worman

I saw some of these Lukan particulars mentioned in other commentary as I studied this week. But when I looked again at the text, I had one of those "Wait a minute" moments.

No branches, but "people kept spreading their cloaks on the road" (Luke 18:36). Jesus is riding a colt which evokes the Messianic king of Zechariah 9:9. And Psalm 118 is quoted, including "Blessed is the king . . ." Maybe he has softened the nationalistic flavor a little, but it's still there. The "Hosanna" line is changed a bit to echo the angels' song at Jesus' birth. Maybe the difference is that they are praising God for the mighty works they'd seen (19:37), instead of celebrating an anticipated earthly triumph?

The disciples are the ones "praising . . . with a loud voice", but it is a "multitude" (19:37), not just the 12. Still sounds a bit raucous.

I don't think that Luke, who recorded the Magnificat and the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, is one to softpedal political implications!

But the point is well taken that Luke doesn't point to the same people as praising now and cursing Jesus later. He seems to make a contrast between "the people" who supported Jesus and whom the chief priests feared, and "the crowd" who came to arrest him and decried him before Pilate. One of his compare-and-contrast pairings, like the prodigal son and his brother, the scribes vs. the widow's mite, the Pharisee and the tax collector, the mocking and repentant criminals on the cross. Judas and Peter?

I also agree that it's a mistake to try to preach the synoptic differences, instead of letting it serve as background for your proclamation of the Gospel.

Pam Fickenscher

So here's another redaction dilemma -- the emphasis on the gospel of John during Holy Week. I personally find "John's Jesus" the least compelling in the passion narrative -- he's too in control, too sure about what's going to happen. The result for me -- and I assume for others, is that he doesn't quite seem human. But I know there is a purpose in the tradition of having this story be the one that's told on Good Friday. The plus side: there's little blaming "his blood be on us. . ." and no reason to ask "what if." John wants us to believe that this is exactly the way it was supposed to go, how God was intended to be glorified through Christ.
Given a choice I'd probably focus on "Luke's Jesus" and the way in which reconciliation happens everywhere throughout the passion. But that focus doesn't have much strength in John.
Instead I'm going to delve into John's perspective, but try not to say "John says". John wants our eyes looking upward - to Christ and to God's purpose. The question is whether I can make it convincing given my own preference for a more human Jesus.

I'm not sure I even like the idea of preaching on Good Friday at all, but at the moment it's not my choice.

Bruce Cameron

If my congregation didn't want a bookish preacher, they wouldn't have called me. Thanks for your analysis.

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