Summary: This message examines the implications of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
In the political arena, the public opinion polls seem to have the ability to shape policy. Politicians are constantly watching their job approval ratings to determine whether or not policy changes are in the best interest of their political future. As our text begins, Jesus’ popularity is at an all time high. As He enters Jerusalem, the crowds are stirred with emotion. All four of the Gospel writers stress the importance of the triumphal entry and the events that take place in the week following. In fact the Gospels indicate that everything Jesus has done up to this point is preliminary, for without this final series of events in Jerusalem, nothing else Jesus did would have mattered. Jesus enters a city that is literally overflowing with people. Jerusalem’s normal population was estimated to be around two-hundred thousand people but during the week of Passover the population would balloon to almost three million people. Into this great throng of people Jesus courageously rides allowing His disciples the opportunity to publicly proclaim Him to be the Messiah. Many historians have concluded that there are two major longings that are evident throughout the course of human history, longing for a new leader and a new order. As Jesus enters Jerusalem, He does so as a new leader ushering in a new order, the Kingdom of God. As we examine our text today I would like for us to see both the leader and order as well as how quickly public opinion can change.
I. An Unexpected King enters the gates of Jerusalem.
A. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem marks a time of transition in His ministry.
1. Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem marks an important transition from Jesus’ Galilean ministry and the completion of his journey to Jerusalem.
2. As He makes this transition Jesus pays careful attention to all the details to insure that He receives the desired outcome.
3. Everything seems to point to the fact that Jesus intends to deliberately stage the manner of His entrance into Jerusalem in terms of the prophetic expectations of Zechariah 9:9.
4. Jesus not only knows that a donkey and a colt will be available for his service in the next village, he is also confident that any questions concerning the requisition of these animals will be fully satisfied merely by the explanation, the Lord needs them. Thus, with Jesus’ authoritative command everything is put at his disposal for the orchestration of His entry into Jerusalem.
5. The plan goes off without a hitch as the two disciples do as they have been told. They place their cloaks on the animals while the crowd paves the road with theirs, adding tree branches to their festive carpet.
B. Matthew makes it clear by a fulfillment citation that Jesus’ staging of events is calculated as a challenge to Jerusalem to receive her kingly Messiah.
1. A king who conquers through bloodshed and warfare would come riding a white stallion so the world would praise his triumph. A conqueror that comes riding a humble donkey comes in peace.
2. Jesus made a very clear statement that He was the Messiah by the manner in which He entered Jerusalem.
3. As Jesus entered the city on a donkey’s colt He affirmed His messianic royalty and humility.
4. When Jesus came to Jerusalem He did not fulfill the people’s hopes of a delivering king that would drive the Gentiles from the land.
5. Jesus did enter the city as a great king but not in a nationalistic sense. He was the king who would bring peace through His own suffering.
II. The long awaited Savior enters the gates of Jerusalem.
A. The crowds react by extending Him honor and prestige due the extraordinary nature of His person.
1. Crowds of people had already gathered on this stretch of road a mile outside of Jerusalem, going to the city for the feast of unleavened bread and Passover.
2. They honored Jesus as royalty by spreading out their cloaks on the path and cutting the branches from the trees and waving them in the air. Only John records that they used palm branches.
3. Jesus, in effect is escorted into the capital city in a manner befitting royalty. The actions of these Galilean pilgrims clearly constitute a challenge to the residents of Jerusalem to welcome Jesus as their Davidic Messiah.
4. The whole picture conveys celebration and honor, reminiscent of the victory parades with which triumphant kings and generals in the Old Testament and intertestamental times were welcomed.
5. Whereas Jesus by riding the donkey implies his renunciation of revolutionary aspirations, the crowd’s use of palm branches, an allusion to the Maccabean triumphs, implies that they still see Him in more revolutionary messianic terms.
6. The political implications of the event may be suggested by the waving of palm branches, recalling the action of the first Hanukkah, celebrating the cleansing of the temple from Seleucid control.