You do not have to be a drinker in order to be familiar with the debate, popularized by author Ian Fleming’s character James Bond’s catchphrase, whether martinis should be shaken or stirred. Believe it or not, there is a question whether the city of Jerusalem is shaken or stirred when Jesus enters it on Palm Sunday, which entrance many will hear of tomorrow in the Processional Gospel that begins Holy Week.
Several English versions of Matthew 21:10 translate that Jerusalem was “stirred” (ASV, NIV, NASB) or “stirred up” (ESV), but the Greek word seio used there is related to English words such as “seismic,” and at least the verb’s literal meaning, if not also its figurative meaning, is more about causing to quake. In both the Old and New Testament such quaking is related to the presence of God and the Day of the Lord that brings panic and destruction to the enemies of God’s faithful people.
On Palm Sunday, the believing pilgrims going before and following after Jesus responsively sang Psalm verses calling out to Him for salvation. But, the unbelievers who made up the rest of the city quaked with fear, asking Who Jesus was, and the crowds confessed Jesus to be at least a prophet from Nazareth of Galilee, if not the long-promised definitive Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15). The city of Jerusalem had been troubled previously over King Herod’s reaction to news of Jesus’s birth (Matthew 2:3), and it, or at least its environs and people in them, would be shaken again later in connection with Jesus’s death and resurrection (Matthew 27:51; 28:2, 4).
While biochemists and connoisseurs no doubt will continue to debate whether James Bond’s preference for martinis shaken, not stirred, is correct, “shaken,” not “stirred,” better expresses what happened to Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday. That said, those of us who are sorry for our sin and call out to Jesus for salvation, trusting that God will forgive our sin because He died on the cross for us, have nothing about which we need be shaken or stirred. We feast with Him eternally (Revelation 19:6-9).
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.