Summary: What does "Thy Kingdome come" mean?
Has Thy Kingdom Come?
Palm Sunday has been celebrated for almost two thousand years in the church. It is a day where little children wave palm branches at the process to the altar. Special hymns like “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna” are sung. I can remember when I visited the nearby Coptic church on that day that they had woven beautiful palm crosses and decorations from the fronds. We celebrate the coming of the Messiah to Jerusalem.
The gospel of Matthew and John are careful to link the Triumphal Entry to the Scripture. The book of Zechariah says that the Messiah would come in humble fashion, seated on a lowly donkey’s colt. The idea is that kings come on white horses in power, but not this king. This king comes in submission to the Father and in the way the Scriptures foretold.
It is interesting that so much detail is given in Matthew, Mark, and Luke to the getting of the colt. What does this add to the story? He sends disciples to fetch it, and tells them where to find it. We think that horse thieves were hung in our wild west, and I think that the onlookers would have made strong objection from strangers untying their neighbor’s jenny and colt. They do make objection, but Jesus tells them what to say when this happens. “Tell them the Lord has need of it, and they will let it go. We know from Matthew that they untied the jenny and her colt, perhaps to keep the colt from being spooked. This colt had never been ridden before. Anyone who raises horses and donkeys know that animals have to be trained to let someone ride them. They have to trust the rider. An untrained colt would buck and try to throw a stranger. Yet the jenny and the colt let themselves go without objection with the disciples, and the colt meekly submits to Jesus. One has to see something supernatural in this. It says at the beginning of Isaiah that the “ox knows its master, and the donkey its master’s crib.” This donkey somehow knew something that Israel would demonstrate later this week would reject.
It was dangerous to travel the Jericho road to Jerusalem alone, as the parable of the good Samaritan shows People travelled the road in groups. As it was Passover, and the road was narrow, the roadway would have been packed with pilgrims. The road widened as they approached Jerusalem, and when they see Jesus being mounted on the colt, they knew exactly what was happening, at least externally. Jesus was coming to Jerusalem to announce that He was the promised Messiah. This stirred up the crowds. They lay their cloaks down before Him and started to cut off the branches from the trees to wave. We know from the Gospel of John that these were palm branches. The last time Israel had tasted independence under the Maccabees, they put the palm branch on the back of their coin. The palm branch was the symbol of the zealots who wanted to overthrow the Romans and set up an independent Israel again. The message was unmistakable. Their king was coming to set up a new Jewish state that would oust Rome and establish the kingdom of Israel. Their Messiah would rule over the Gentiles with a rod of iron as the 2nd Psalm states.
Another Scripture associated with Palm Sunday is the 118th Psalm. This psalm was one of the six psalms the pilgrims would sung as they ascended to Jerusalem. It was the last of the six, and would be sung as they approached the city. They did this every year, but this time it has special meaning. “Hosanna! Blessed is Hw who comes in the name of the Lord!” is part of that psalm. To this they added: “Blessed is the kingdom of our father David which comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” their king had come. Their kingdom had come. This is what they were thinking. We know this because when the Pharisees saw it, Luke records that they beckoned Jesus to silence them.
They were right. Their king had come. Mark does not record this, but Luke recors that their king starts to act contrary to their expectation. He weeps bitterly over the city. He cries at His own party. They think they understood what the coming of the king meant. They did not understand that He had come to die in fulfillment of Scripture. It is only at Emmaus after the resurrection that Jesus opens the eyes of the two disciples walking with him that the Scriptures had predicted that the Messiah must suffer and rise again. The temporal rule of the Romans would not be overthrown. It would be Jerusalem instead which would be overthrown by the Romans because Israel would reject the terms upon which their King came. They were looking for a conqueror on a white horse. Instead they got the humble suffering servant of Yahweh.