Triumphal Entry

Triumphal Entry
Zechariah 9:9
Carolyn J. Satcher

Palm Sunday began with Jesus and His disciples traveling over the Mount of Olives. The Lord sent two disciples ahead into the village of Bethphage to find an animal to ride. They found the unbroken colt of a donkey, just as Jesus had said they would. When they untied the colt, the owners began to question them. The disciples responded with the answer Jesus had provided: “The Lord needs it”. Amazingly, the owners were satisfied with that answer and let the disciples go. “They brought [the donkey] to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it”

As Jesus ascended toward Jerusalem, a large multitude gathered around Him. This crowd understood that Jesus was the Messiah; what they did not understand was that it wasn’t time to set up the kingdom yet—although Jesus had tried to tell them so. The crowd’s actions along the road give rise to the name “Palm Sunday”: “A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.” In strewing their cloaks on the road, the people were giving Jesus the royal treatment. John records the detail that the branches they cut were from palm trees.

On that first Palm Sunday, the people also honored Jesus verbally: “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!’

Some 450 to 500 years prior to Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, the prophet Zechariah had prophesied the event we now call Palm Sunday: “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” (Zechariah 9:9). The prophecy was fulfilled in every particular. Unfortunately, the celebration was not to last. The crowds looked for a Messiah who would rescue them politically and free them nationally, but Jesus had come to save them spiritually. They could neither see nor understand the cross.”

The word Triumphal is used to describe things that are done or made to celebrate a victory or great success. The triumphal entry was a significant event, not only to the people of Jesus’ day, but to Christians throughout history. We celebrate Palm Sunday to remember that momentous occasion. Mt. Welcome has made it a tradition of celebrating Palm Sunday by giving out palm leaves to remember what our Lord and Savior sacrificed for us.

Jesus’ purpose in riding into Jerusalem was to make public His claim to be their Messiah and King of Israel in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Like a king He ascends to His palace, not a temporal palace but the spiritual palace that is the temple, because His is a spiritual kingdom. He receives the worship and praise of the people because only He deserves it. No longer does He tell His disciples to be quiet about Him but to shout His praises and worship Him openly. The spreading of cloaks was an act of homage for royalty. Jesus was openly declaring to the people that He was their King and the Messiah they had been waiting for.

Unfortunately, the praise the people lavished on Jesus was not because they recognized Him as their Savior from sin. They welcomed Him out of their desire for a messianic deliverer, someone who would lead them in a revolt against Rome. He failed in their expectations, when He refused to lead them in a massive revolt against the Roman occupiers, the crowds quickly turned on Him. Within just a few days, their hosannas would change to cries of “Crucify Him!”. Those who hailed Him as a hero would soon reject and abandon Him.

The story of the triumphal entry is the story of the King who came as a lowly servant on a donkey, not a prancing steed, not in royal robes, but on the clothes of the poor and humble. Jesus Christ comes not to conquer by force as earthly kings but by love, grace, mercy, and His own sacrifice for His people. His is not a kingdom of armies and splendor but of lowliness and servanthood. He conquers not nations but hearts and minds. His message is one of peace with God, not of temporal peace.

When people are crowned kings like Prince Charles, queens like Queen Elizabeth, and presidents like President Joe Biden the countries usually have ceremonies for them showing a triumphal entry as they are crowned. These are beautiful ceremonies, but what can be more beautiful than the triumphal entry of Jesus into our lives as our Savior.

 Jesus might not have been riding in a limousine or a carriage with 8 beautiful horses but his entry into Jerusalem was the greatest entrance that we could ever have achieved. As we know Jesus did not receive all the luxury that a king, queen or president would get, but he did receive the joy of his father God and the people who believed in him as their Savior. His triumphal entry was not based on an earthly kingdom but the heavenly kingdom for those on earth who would receive and accept him as their Savior. As Jesus said my kingdom is not of this world.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for your entry into Jerusalem so that we might receive salvation. Thank you for being lowly in heart unlike others who are seeking selfish means in becoming leaders to the world.  In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
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