Summary: In the story of the Palm Sunday, Jesus was unafraid to march into the lion's den and willfully take what the world would give him. Jesus' humility and selfless act is masked on this day. We see Palm fronds and sing "Hallelujahs", but Jesus saw us.
Love on the March
Mathew 21: 1-11 & Isaiah 50:4-9
In a military setting, marching is done for a variety of reasons. It can be to get all of a platoon or squad from one place to another, Or, marching can be a way to show mastery of skill. It was in boot camp where we practiced the entire time to have one opportunity to compete against other platoons to see who had mastered all of the different moves learned up to that point. You can also march with a bit of pomp and pageantry like in a parade; everyone loves a parade. Similarly, you march to show authority, like when a Roman General would return from battle with a victory. A triumph, or victory parade, followed every major military victory in ancient Rome: the successful general drove through the streets to the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill; behind him streamed his raucous soldiers; in front were his most glamorous prisoners, as well as the entirety of loot he had captured, from enemy ships and precious statues to plants and animals from the conquered territory. Occasionally there was so much on display that the show lasted two to three days. The triumph was a religious ritual, a visual spectacle, and a sheer good time.
When Jesus marched into Jerusalem, he did it different than any of these since he marched [rode] into town with total humility to show us that pride in life is in full view of God and he does not desire his people to live in such a way. If pride were the way, then Jesus needed a great steed, a white horse with gold bridals and a custom saddle. He would have deemed it necessary to enter in to the city by trumpet sound and choir songs. But no, divinity is not established in such a way. His manner of entering into Zion [Zee-own] fulfills prophesy in Zech 9:9 where it says,
“Rejoice greatly O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Yes, today’s entry into the city is a humble one, but it is just as much a triumphant one, yes more so, even more than the victory parade offered unto the Roman general after a great battle won.
>>>Did not Jesus win? Did he not triumph over pride and worldly grandeur? Did he not conquer affluence with poverty? And did he not conquer rage and malice using meekness and gentleness? The answer is “yes”, unequivocally.
So, he enters into the city full, full of kindness, full of meekness and full of compassion and passion. He comes to deliver himself into their hands. The King enters the city to be murdered by his subjects and to make that death a ransom.
But before he entered into the city, the crowd began to shout and yell “Hosanna’s” and “Hallelujah’s” to honor Jesus. And they through down their cloaks on the ground, acknowledging him as their king…I find it so hard to grasp this acknowledgment coming on Palm Sunday and then in a few days crying “Crucify him”, but that’s Passion week sermons coming up.
The placing of clothes on the ground was a time honored tradition, a custom observed by the people when they found that God had appointed a man to the kingdom. When Jehu sat with the captains of the army, and Elisha the prophet came by the order of God to anoint him king over Israel, as soon as he came out of the inner chamber where the prophet had taken him, the people knew what had been done and they took their garments and spread it under him. And with trumpets sound and loud voices the people cried out, “Jehu is King!”
As it stands, he rides in on a colt, one that one man had ever ridden. It is a bit difficult to see the complete picture of how Christ rode into town; did he ride on a donkey or a colt? Why the distinction here? Did he ride both? It is not for certain what he did exactly, there’s different thoughts on it, but I do know, in my opinion, is that symbolically the donkey tied up was an emblem or picture of the Jews bound under the yoke of the law and the colt that was one not ridden, it represented Gentiles who were not under the law. Having both is a representation of how Jews and Gentiles are both under the scepter of Christ’s authority.
Theologians fully acknowledge the prophesy of the donkey coming from Zechariah 9 and that it refers to the Messiah. Rabbis have a beautiful story about the donkey. The theme is seen from the beginning of the Bible. The donkey is the colt of that donkey symbolically in the 6th day of creation. This is the donkey Abraham used to carry his son Isaac. This donkey is the same donkey Moses rode when he went to Egypt to free God’s people. And this is the donkey Jesus shall ride into Jerusalem to conquer death. Of course we know it is not the exact same donkey, but a representation for us to see.