Palm Sunday

A Jewish Roots Perspective on Palm Sunday

Disciples and rabbis

Hundreds of sages or rabbis in the first century recruited disciples who would follow them to receive instruction in the Torah (the Law of Moses) and the oral interpretations of that Law propounded by notable rabbis. It was not unusual for a devout Jewish man to take a hiatus from his career for a month or two to follow a master teacher, traveling with him to minister in small towns and villages.

It seems that The Twelve followed Jesus part time for about two years and full time the last year and a half of His earthly ministry. This was an unusually long—but not unheard of—period of time.

There was nothing odd about a Jewish sage asking men to follow him as his disciples. The culture acclimated people to open their homes to traveling rabbis and their disciples and Jewish leaders established rules to regulate discipleship. For example, a married man could not leave home to follow a rabbi for more than 30 days without permission from his wife.

When Jesus told His disciples to borrow a donkey and explain that, “the Lord needs them” (Matt. 21:3)—this was not unusual either. The Jewish ethic taught individuals to do what they could to support the training of disciples, thus promoting Torah study (during that time, when one studied Torah, he entered “the Kingdom of God”). In fact, the Talmud instructs the disciple to prioritize his Rabbi even above his own father:

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