This weekend we celebrate Palm Sunday. All four gospels tell the story of the triumphal ride of Jesus to Jerusalem. The first to be written was that in Mark 11:1-10. The other accounts are Matthew 21:1-11, Luke 19:29-38 and John 12:12-15. The stories are similar in all four, but–just as has happened in retellings of tales over the centuries–details change a bit. Mark reports “leafy branches” being spread before the colt on which Jesus rode. Matthew refers to them as “branches from trees.” Luke says “people kept spreading their cloaks on the road,” not mentioning any foliage being tossed before Jesus. The only identification of palm branches is in John’s gospel, the last of the four to be written.
Do the variations matter? What is the central message of the four accounts?