The Triumphant Entry

Why do we call it Palm Sunday? Jesus entered Jerusalem as the Prince of Peace. Peace between God and man. Why palm branches? Why on a donkey?

Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19 On the next day the large crowd that had come to the Passover festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. When they came near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples ahead of Him. He said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you. You will find a donkey tied there and a colt no one has ever sat on with it. Untie them and bring them to Me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them. That person will send them at once.”

The disciples found the young donkey in the street as He had told them. It was tied to the door of a house. As they were untying it, some men standing there with its owners asked them, “Why are you untying that donkey?” The disciples answered them “The Lord needs it,” as Jesus had told them, so the men let them go. They brought the donkey to Jesus, put their coats on it, and helped Jesus onto it. He obtained a donkey and sat on it, to fulfil Scripture so that what the prophet had said came true: “Tell the people of Zion, ‘Don’t be afraid!  Your king is coming to you. He’s gentle, riding on a donkey, on a colt, a young pack animal.'”

When Solomon was to be crowned king, Solomon’s triumphal entry was on a mule and takes place after his having been anointed king in the waters of the Gihon and immediately before his enthronement. The significance of a donkey is if a king came on a donkey, he was coming in peace. Jesus was known as the Prince of Peace. If he came on a horse, he was coming prepared for battle. The Next time Jesus returns He will come on a white horse as the King of kings. (Revelation 19:11)

At first Jesus’ disciples didn’t know what these prophecies meant. However, when Jesus was glorified, the disciples remembered that these prophecies had been written about Him. Then remembered that they had taken part in fulfilling the prophecies.

The people who had been with Jesus when he called Lazarus from the tomb and brought him back to life reported what they had seen. Because the crowd heard that Jesus had performed this miracle, they came to meet Him.

As He was riding along, most of the people spread their coats on the road. Others cut leafy branches from the trees in the fields and spread them on the road. So, they took palm branches and went to meet Him. By this time, He was coming near the place where the road went down the Mount of Olives. The Pharisees said to each other, “This is getting us nowhere. Look! The whole world is following Him!”

The palm branch is a symbol of victory, triumph, peace, and eternal life originating in the ancient Mediterranean world. The palm (Phoenix) represented immortality. A palm branch was awarded to victorious athletes in ancient Greece, and a palm frond or the tree itself is one of the most common attributes in ancient Rome.

The tradition of palm branches on Palm Sunday actually originates with the Jewish festival of Sukkoth, also called the Feast of the Tabernacles or Booths, which was one of the most popular holidays among the Jews in the first century. In the observance of Sukkoth, worshippers passed through Jerusalem and entered the Temple, waving in their right hands something called a lulab, which was a bunch of leafy branches made of willow, myrtle and palm. The branches are connected to the Great Hallel psalm which the Jewish crowds are chanting as Jesus enters into Jerusalem.

Psalm 118:22-26 The stone which the builders rejected has become the head cornerstone. This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now, (Hosanna) I beseech you, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech you, send now prosperity. Blessed be He that comes in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD. (NKJ)

This psalm also describes the coming of the king into the city. But Jesus does not enter to be enthroned as did Solomon, but to ascend to the altar and offer Himself as a sacrifice. What they cannot see–is what kind of king He is and how He is going to reign. The altar on which Jesus will pour out “the blood of the covenant” is not the bronze altar in the Temple, but the cross on Golgotha. 

The crowd began to praise God for all the miracles they had seen. They went ahead of Him and followed Him shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is our ancestor David’s kingdom that is coming! Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel! Peace in heaven, and Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell your disciples to be quiet.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth that if they are quiet, the stones will cry out.”

When He came closer and saw the city, He began to cry. He said, “If you had only known today what would bring you peace! But now it is hidden, so you cannot see it. The time will come when enemy armies will build a wall to surround you and close you in on every side. They will level you to the ground and kill your people. One stone will not be left on top of another, because you didn’t recognize the time when God came to help you.” When Jesus came into Jerusalem, the whole city was in an uproar. People were asking, “Who is this?” (GWT)

Do you know today what will bring you peace? Jesus! Don’t allow the stones to take your place. Come help me praise Him.

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