Summary: 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 (Matthew 21:11)
Christ’s Magnificence in the “Insignificant”
Sermon on Palm Sunday
Let’s turn to Matthew’s account in chapter 21 beginning with verse seven to eleven." 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.”
The biblical account of Christ’s “Triumphal Entry,” into Jerusalem is one of the few events all four gospels record for us. Five days before the Passover, Jesus came from Bethany to Jerusalem. Having sent two of His disciples to bring Him a colt of a donkey, Jesus sat upon it and entered the city. The significance of Palm Sunday is what has been called Christ’s “Triumphal Entry,” into Jerusalem. It was around 30 AD. Prophets had spoken of such a day, the Psalmist sang of it, and the Messiah was to fulfill it. No greater day could be anticipated. Some celebrated it as a triumphal entry others mourned it as the tragic end of great promise. The excitement of the scene is tempered by the fact that very soon, the same crowds that hailed Jesus as King would be calling for his death.
It was springtime. The holy city of Jerusalem was crowded with pilgrims who had come for the annual Passover celebration. Jesus had spent many months traveling through the towns and villages of Palestine. He preached about the kingdom of God and healed the sick, raised the dead, feed the hungry, wherever He went. Now the time had come for Him to declare His title as the Messiah - the Savior that God had promised to the Jewish people. Jesus knew His mission was almost finished. As they traveled to Jerusalem, Jesus warned His disciples that He would soon be put to death, and after three days He would rise again.
The choice of a donkey is not mere coincidence.
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey. Great Excitement was in the air as the news spread from the small village of Bethany to Bethphage that the one being called “the Messiah” was about to enter Jerusalem. Crowds of people spread their coats on the ground in front of Him. Some waved branches of palm trees, a sign of victory. Enthusiastic followers lay a carpet of garments and palm branches before him. At this point they recognized his messianic office and anticipated what they thought would be the inauguration of their promised king.
As the jubilant crowds welcomed Christ into the city, they also shouted, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of Jehovah," a chant taken from Psalms 118:26. In that Psalm the phrase, "he that cometh in the name of Jehovah" meant the worshipper drawing near the temple. "King of Israel," "Hosanna" (is from a Hebrew word which means "save we pray.") The entry of Christ into the city of Jerusalem was not only a literal fulfillment of prophecy, but it was a demonstration of the nature of God’s kingdom (John 18:36).
Notice first that this event is completely orchestrated by Christ. He carefully choreographs his entrance into Jerusalem. This is near the time of the Passover and consequently thousands of pilgrims are streaming into Jerusalem preparing to celebrate the feast in the holy city. The vast majority of them walked into the city but Jesus chooses to make his entrance in a very specific, highly symbolic manner. He is coming from the direction of the Mount of Olives and has evidently pre-arranged for the donkey but it’s not just any donkey, it’s a donkey no one has ever ridden on. The choice of a donkey is not mere coincidence, but is made with great intentionality. Jesus carefully works out the details of this setting to fulfill what the prophets have said about him as king. Verse four says, "This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, 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.’”
The Bible never talks about fate or chance. It speaks instead of what some call "Sacred Time". Scripture speaks of Christian life as being, not just a random collection of disconnected events, but life with purpose and meaning. Jesus rode a donkey into town, because there was a purpose and a meaning to the action. It was an event in sacred time and fulfillment of the prophecies of His first advent.