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Advent Day 13

Say to the Daughter of Zion, See, your King comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Mat 21:5; Zech 9:9).


Often titled Jesus’ triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem prior to His crucifixion, signaled a journey of life or death for the people in the crowd that surrounded Him that day. Who was in that crowd? The mix of people reflected Jews in Jerusalem for the Passover feast who came out to greet Jesus having heard He resurrected Lazarus from the dead, and those following behind Him, mainly His disciples (Matt 21:9; Mark 11:9). But also among this crowd stood the Pharisees, displeased over Jesus’ public honoring (Luke 19:39). The excitement from the crowd even caught the attention of the rest of the city.

Did the crowd recognize that Love had arrived as the King who came riding in a donkey? This very King, God manifested in flesh as Jesus, traveled the road to the Cross for the greatest and ultimate display of love—The Messiah who would redeem humanity at the Cross as their Conqueror over sins. What greater love than this! Let’s reflect on how those present may have responded to Jesus’ query to His disciples in Luke 9:18: “Who do the crowds say that I am?” —The pilgrims at the Feast, Jesus’ disciples, the Pharisees, and the city inhabitants.
For the multitudes of Jews who went to meet Jesus on the road he traveled into Jerusalem, the pilgrims at the Feast, their spreading of palm branches before Him may have signified recognition of their awaited messiah who would liberate them in victory from Roman occupation. They looked at the raising of Lazarus as a sign. Perhaps, in affirmation of Jesus as their political and national King of Israel they shouted “ Hosanna! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest” (Mark 11: 9-10).

In Hebrew, Hosanna means “save indeed.” However, during the time of Jesus, it had evolved into a greeting that expressed a wish rather than a fact. Also, Jews greeted pilgrims arriving into Jerusalem with “Blessed in the Lord’s name be he who comes, Even the king of Israel.” Thus, did those who went to meet Jesus affirm Him as their Messiah or acclaim Him as a special dignitary entering the city?

For His disciples that had been with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead bore witness. Luke 19:28 describes them rejoicing and praising God for all the mighty works they had seen. However, they did not understand the recognition until Jesus’ glorification. John 12:16 explained “they remembered that this had been written of him and had been done to him.”

For the Pharisees viewing the procession, it further demonstrated their contempt toward Him and possibly envy, when murmured to one another, “You see that you can do nothing; look, the world has gone after him.” (John 12:16-19 RSV). Some of the Pharisees from the crowd even asked Jesus to control His disciples (Luke 19:39).

For those in the city they suspiciously asked, “Who is this?” Instead of shouting “Hosanna.” The crowd informed them, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee” (Matt 21:11). In reality, Jesus rode into Jerusalem as the Suffering Servant, the Love who had arrived in Jerusalem. He later experienced extreme physical and emotional pain to accomplish His mission of atoning love in His glorification at the Cross.

Despite the crowd laying palm branches and shouting Hosanna, the entry into Jerusalem did not bring Jesus joy. Luke 19:41 described Him weeping over Jerusalem as He beheld it. He lamented their fate of forfeiting the peace that belonged to them. In John 12:37, Scripture highlighted the Jews unbelief. Despite Jesus’ numerous signs, they believed not in Him.

Those who acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah, walk the pathway of life that led to His victory over sin at His crucifixion. In Col 2:15, Paul wrote that Jesus triumphed over principalities and authorities. As the Conqueror, He defeated sin. His death brings eternal life. Christ proved His immense love by dying for us.

Jan Paron, PhD

(Excerpt from the Theology of Emmanuel in the Book of Matthew)