Mark 11:1-11—Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday Donkey

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

I beg you Lord, deliver us!  I beseech you Lord, prosper us! (Psalm 118:25 SWH)[1]

Hosanna (הוֹשִׁ֨יעָ֥ה נָּ֑א):  What is in a word?

Mark’s Palm Sunday

Mark’s account of Palm Sunday is amazingly simple:  The disciples hunt around for a donkey;  they have a small parade; some people start shouting;  they scope out the temple and go home.  No palms!  No Pharisees hanging around.  No prophecy.


Still, this is no ordinary parade.  France notes that nowhere else in the gospels do we read of Jesus riding [2].  The parade fulfills the prophecy:  Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9 ESV).


The whole story builds up to v. 9 and the shouting:  Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the lord (Mark 11:9).  Hosanna is a transliteration of a Hebrew phrase appearing only in Psalm 118:25 cited above.  The rest of the phrase is cited from the next verse (Psalm 118:26).  Beale and Carson [3] describe Psalm 118 as a “royal song of thanksgiving for military victory” regularly sung at Passover.  The truncation of Psalm 118:25 to exclude the second half of the sentence (I beseech you Lord, prosper us), underscores the military intentions of the Palm Sunday crowd.  The next verse makes this point very plain:  “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David”(Mark 11:10).

Who is really being blessed here?

The Greek in v. 9 admits a second translation:  “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa once described herself as Christ’s donkey.  When we come humbly in the name of the Lord, in some sense we too become Christ’s donkey.  And we too are blessed.


[1] אָנָּ֣א יְ֭הוָה הוֹשִׁ֨יעָ֥ה נָּ֑א אָֽנָּ֥א יְ֜הוָ֗ה הַצְלִ֨יחָ֥ה נָּֽא (Psalm 118:25 WTT).

[2] R.T. France.  The New International Greek Testament Commentary:  The Gospel of Mark.  Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans.  P. 428.

[3] G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson [Editors].  2007.  Commentary on the NT Use of the OT.  Grand Rapids:  Baker Academic.   Pp. 206-207.

Mark 11:1-11—Palm Sunday

Also see:

A Roadmap of Simple Faith

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

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