As Jesus was about to enter the holy city of Jerusalem, the crowd sensed the significance of the moment. Ages of angst and hope and longing found their fulfillment before their very eyes. The fringes of Jerusalem were in an uproar of expectation and praise.
1 When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus then sent two disciples, 2 telling them, “Go into the village ahead of you. At once you will find a donkey tied there with her foal. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them at once.”
4 This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled:
5 Tell Daughter Zion,
“See, your King is coming to you,
gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and its foal; then they laid their clothes on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their clothes on the road; others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. 9 Then the crowds who went ahead of him and those who followed shouted:
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!
10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in an uproar, saying, “Who is this? ” 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Picture this scene: Thousands of pilgrims made their way into Jerusalem for the annual Passover festival, and they removed their cloaks and lay them upon the road. They threw palm branches on the ground, because they knew the person entering their city was royalty. This was five-star treatment for the entrance of a king. But then came Jesus, humbly riding on a donkey. Typically, conquering kings would enter their capitals on warhorses or in glorious chariots, leading a march of pomp and privilege. But Jesus came on a young donkey, victorious yet humble.
This is significant and atypical, but it was certainly not unheard of. In fact, it was not the first time that a Jewish king had ridden into Jerusalem on a mule. Solomon, the son of David, rode on a donkey to be anointed as king over Israel and rode into Jerusalem to sit on the throne (see 1 Kings 1:32-35). Here, the greater Son of David rode into the city, the drumbeat of messianic expectation deafening.
The crowd gave Jesus the royal treatment, but they called Him a prophet (see Matt. 21:11). Perhaps there was significance to their use of the definite article “the” in front of “prophet.” First-century Jewish expectation held that there would be a prophet like Moses, according to Deuteronomy 18:18-19. Not only did they say that He was a prophet, but they also recognized that He was from Galilee (see Matt. 21:11). Though this region was generally despised for its strong Gentile influence, it held prophetic significance (see Isa. 9:1-2). Regardless of their intent, Jesus was not just a prophet—He was the fulfillment of the Prophet from the Old Testament.
Why do you think God chose to have His Son enter Jerusalem in a picture of humility?
Why were they celebrating? Messianic expectations in the first-century were diverse, but most viewed the Christ as one who would purify the Jewish faith, punish the unrighteous, and judge Israel’s enemies. They had waited hundreds of years for a day like this. The people thought the drought was done, the famine was finished. The King was finally coming.
And they were correct. Jesus will purify the faith, punish the unrighteous, and judge His enemies. One day He will ride a warhorse as the conquering King of kings; but on this day, He was riding a donkey as the Suffering Servant.
What comes to mind when you hear the word redemption?
Why is it significant that we recognize the purpose for which Jesus came?
Excerpted from Matt Chandler and Geoff Ashley, The Gospel Project: Jesus the Savior © 2017 Lifeway Press®. Used by permission.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®. Copyright 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission.