Palm Sunday always comes the Sunday before Easter. On that day, we remember Jesus’
“Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem. The event is recorded in all four gospels: Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:29-40, and John 12:12-19.
Before we look at those, look at Zechariah chapter nine. You can read it online here.
This prophecy promises deliverance for God’s people. However, if you look closely, you’ll see something odd.
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zech 9:9)
Normally, victorious kings ride horses; majestic, magnificent horses. Here it says the king will be riding a…donkey? Yes, that is what it says.
Let’s look at Matthew’s account of what happened that day.
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
“Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matt: 21:1-11)
Mark doesn’t really add anything to the narrative, but Luke says some of the Pharisees were offended at what the crowd was shouting.
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:39-40)
At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!” (John 12:16-19)
When Jesus came into Jerusalem on the back of the donkey, He was proclaiming Himself as Messiah. It was just a few days after He had raised Lazarus from the dead, and the multitudes came out to welcome to Him. The phrase “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” is from Psalm 118, which contains another piece of messianic prophecy. Calling Him “Son of David” referred to prophecy from Isaiah and 2nd Samuel.
By shouting those things, the people were also proclaiming Jesus as messiah. The people knew the prophecies. They really didn’t understand what it was all about though. They were looking for an earthly king. During Jesus time on earth, Israel was under the rule of the Roman Empire. The Jewish people desperately wanted deliverance from the Romans, and they expected their messiah to deliver them. He didn’t though, and the crowds that welcomed Him would soon be calling for His crucifixion. If they had really understood the prophecies, they would have known that was part of the plan.
What are your expectations of Jesus?