Triumphal Entry

March 25, 2018

The culmination of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ was to unfold not in Bethlehem where he was born or Nazareth where he grew up, but in Jerusalem. Jesus was evidently focused on this because when he was warned about King Herod’s plan to kill him, his response was, “Go tell that fox, 'I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.' In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day--for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!” (Luke 13:32-33). Jesus was not hindered by the threat to his life, but he pressed on to reach his goal.

As Jesus was finally entering Jerusalem, “many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!’” (Mark 11:8-10). It was a warm welcome from the crowd of disciples that saw all the miracles he performed. They acknowledged that he was the King and the Messiah that they had been waiting for. At that moment, the Jews in Jerusalem were eagerly waiting for their Messiah to deliver them from the oppressive hands of the Roman occupiers.

But while the Jews were expecting that Jesus would be like their father David, a warrior, and that he would start a revolt against the Romans, he instead went to the temple to drive out those who were selling there, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house will be a house of prayer'; but you have made it 'a den of robbers’” (Luke 19:46). Evidently, he was more concerned about the spiritual condition of the Jews than their physical oppression under the Romans. And because they did not recognize the more crucial concern of Jesus, which was their spiritual deliverance, the Jews quickly turned against him. Within a few days, their cries of “Hosanna!” changed to “Crucify him!” Eventually, even his disciples abandoned him and left him to be crucified in the hands of the Romans.

But what is the significance of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem? Firstly, it was his public and open acknowledgement that he is the Messiah. At first, he would always tell his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. After Peter confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus warned them not to tell anyone (Matt 16:16-20). During the triumphal entry, however, he allowed them to shout his praise and they worshipped him openly. This is in spite of the attempt of the Pharisees to silence his disciples. In fact, when the disciples were shouting their hosannas, the Pharisees in the crowd told Jesus to stop and rebuke them. But Jesus responded, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40).

Secondly, he acknowledged before the people that he was the King of the Jews. The manner that the disciples welcome him was an act of homage to a king or to royalty. They placed their cloaks on the donkey and he sat on them. They also spread their cloaks and palm branches on the road and shouted “Hosanna!” This is akin to the homage that was given to Jehu when he was anointed king of Israel (2 King 9:13). Later, Jesus verbally confirmed that he was a king when Pilate asked, “Are you the king of the Jews” and Jesus responded, “Yes, it is as you say” (Luke 23:3).

Thirdly, this is in fulfilment of prophecy. In Zechariah 9:9, it was prophesied, “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” When Jesus entered Jerusalem as a conquering king, he did not ride on a chariot, just like kings would do during his time, but he rode on a donkey as a lowly servant. He did not wear royal robes, but was dressed just like anyone else in the street. He did not enter Jerusalem as a mighty warrior with swords and spears, but with gentle and kind words that brought healing and eternal salvation.

As Jesus had made a triumphal entry in Jerusalem, let us also allow him to make a triumphal entry into our hearts. Let us receive him as our Messiah and allow him to cleanse our hearts of sin, the way that he cleansed the temple. Let us also serve him faithfully in a way befitting a King. And as our Messiah and King, let us offer to him our praises and worship. Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Hallelujah!