Summary: The cries of the multitude as Jesus entered into Jerusalem were "Hosanna! Save us now!", but they didn’t want the kind of salvation that Jesus was offering.
Text: Matthew 21:1 – 11
It was Sunday, March 30, 33 AD, the very day that the prophet Daniel had prophesized of 600 years earlier. Jesus was nearing the end of His earthly ministry, and was making His way to Jerusalem to observe the Passover. Two of His disciples are sent ahead to arrange transportation for their Master. This was an odd request, for Jesus walked everywhere He went, but they gladly obeyed His command.
It had only been a couple of days earlier that Jesus had performed His greatest miracle to date: the resurrection of His friend Lazarus. Many of the Jews became His disciples on that day, and the miracle stirred great concern with the religious leaders. Something had to be done about Jesus…He was turning the people away from their legalistic religion, and it was feared that He was going to incite a rebellion and draw the wrath of the Roman Empire upon Jerusalem and the surrounding country. Because of the Passover feast, there would be 3 million Jews in Jerusalem over the next week, and Rome would multiply its “security force” by ten.
But then, it happened. Jesus was coming! Riding on a donkey. Everyone knew what that meant. Zechariah had prophesized almost 500 years earlier, “Rejoice, greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” Jesus was publicly declaring that He was the Messiah! Multitudes were traveling with Him, including the twelve, and many of those that had witnessed the resurrection of Lazarus. As they approached the city, the people tossed their cloaks before Him and others cut down branches of trees, waving them and laying them before Him. They were giving Him the red carpet treatment, and for the first time, Jesus was allowing them to.
The crowd began to recite the words of Psalm 118, “Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” This was their cry of hope, for the word “Hosanna” means “Save us now.” Surely Jesus, the man of miracles, was their Messiah. They were oppressed by the iron fist of the Roman Empire. They were suffering economically and socially. There was opposition all around them, and they were surrounded by mocking enemies. “Hosanna! Hosanna! Save us now!” If anyone could break Rome’s grip on God’s people, it was Jesus.
Fearing a rebellion and a response by the Roman guard, some of the Pharisees begged Jesus to rebuke His followers, and to tell them to stop this display. Jesus simply replied, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” Jesus continued to ride on, allowing the multitude to shout their praises.
Suddenly, Jesus came to a stop. He stood, stretched out His hands toward Jerusalem, and began to weep. He cried out to Jerusalem, mourning because of the unbelief He knew He would find there.
The crowds were confused. What did this mean? They followed Him into the city, ready to crown Him as their King and to commit themselves to His cause to deliver them from the bondage of Rome. But Jesus walks to the Temple. Why was He going there? Would He announce His Messiahship from the steps of the Temple?
Instead of announcing His plan to overthrow Israel’s enemies and ushering in an era of peace and prosperity, Jesus causes a disturbance in the temple, casting out the moneychangers, and yelling, “My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves!” “My house?” “MY house?” The Temple was God’s house. Is Jesus claiming to be God?
What a disappointment! He had such potential. He had done so many great things. He had healed the sick, He had helped the poor. He had even raised the dead. But now, when He should be standing up for God’s people, He had gone mad. He deserved to be executed.
It was Tuesday, January 20, 2009. Two million people lined Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. They stood on the streets, they stood on the roofs. They looked out of windows. Hundreds of millions more watched on their television sets as history unfolded before them. In just a few minutes, the 44th President of the United States would make his way down the street to begin serving his people. There was enormous expectation and great feelings of hope that things would soon change.
Everyone listened intently as he delivered his inaugural speech.
“That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.”