Summary: Kaiser Wilhelm II entered Jerusalem through the Jaffa gate mounted on a beautiful white horse. Nearly 2000 years before, Jesus had entered Jerusalem through the Eastern gate mounted upon a humble donkey. Two dignitaries entered the same city in two different ways. Why the differences?
OPEN: The last emperor of Germany was Kaiser Wilhelm II and, in 1898 he decided to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. At the time, the once great Jerusalem was in serious need of attention. So 6 months before the Kaiser’s scheduled arrival, the Sultan replaced the mayor of Jerusalem with a more energetic official who was charged with making some much needed improvements to city. To prepare for the Kaiser and his entourage, a small village of 81 tents was set up for them to live in just outside city. And inside the city, the Markets were rebuilt, the city water system was repaired after centuries of neglect, roads along the Kaiser’s planned route were paved, new buildings were constructed and old ones were whitewashed and painted. Beggars and barking dogs rounded up and exiled to distant villages. And a wall near the Jaffa Gate (thru which the Kaiser was to enter) was torn down to allow for him/his entourage easier access to city. On the day of his grand entry the Kaiser entered Jerusalem riding on a beautiful white horse and he was welcomed by numerous dignitaries, journalists and photographers. As the crowd cheered - he received a 21-gun salute.
Over 100 years later, the “Tower of David Museum” in Jerusalem set up an interactive display of the event entitled “The Kaiser Is Coming!” (https://www.jpost.com/in-jerusalem/features/historical-exhibition-kaiser-is-coming-again)
THE KAISER IS COMING!!! As this last Emperor of Germany entered the city - the crowds went wild.
Nearly 2000 years before that… Jesus entered that same city! The crowds went wild and spread their coats and palm branches on the road before Him. And they shouted “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" John 12:13
They were declaring THE KING IS COMING! And they knew that Jesus was the coming King because He was fulfilling a couple of the prophecies about the coming Messiah, the King of Kings.
Do you remember my mentioning that the Kaiser entered thru the Jaffa Gate? That Gate lies on the Western side of Jerusalem. In fact the Jaffa gate had been the major entrance into Jerusalem for about 300 years. Before that, it used to be that the important gate of Jerusalem was on the other side of the city. On the other side of Jerusalem was a gate called “The Eastern Gate.” And that Eastern Gate was important to the Jews because there was a prophecy out of Ezekiel that they believed declared that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem thru that gate.
In Ezekiel 10:18–19, God spoke of the glory of the Lord leaving the temple through “the entrance of the east gate of the Lord’s house.” But later, in Ezekiel 43:1–5 Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord return to the temple through “the gate facing east.”
So, if the Eastern Gate was so important-why didn’t the Kaiser enter thru THAT gate? Well he couldn’t.
ILLUS: When you folks sent me to Israel a few years ago, THIS is what the Eastern Gate looks like now! The gate is all walled up. NOBODY can get through. About 500 years ago, Suleiman the Great had the gate sealed because he realized that the Jews still believed their Messiah was coming, and that they believed He (the Messiah) would enter the city through that gate. So he walled it up!
But - just in case this Messiah actually did show up the Muslims established a graveyard in front of the gate in the belief that no Messiah worthy of the name would defile himself by walking through a cemetery.
TOO LATE! Jesus had already been there and done that. That’s what this Triumphal entry into Jerusalem was all about. It was a declaration by Jesus that He’d come to be a KING. And that’s why the people were so excited. They knew Jesus had come to be their King.
(Now, just a side note here - when Jesus comes back, if He wants to enter Jerusalem there isn’t a cemetery or a walled gate that could ever stop Him! Just saying!)
Now Jesus entered Jerusalem - thru Eastern Gate - to declare He’d come to be a King. But it was the WAY He entered the city was a declaration of the kind of Kingdom He’d come to establish. When the Kaiser entered the city… what was HE riding? (A powerful white horse). It was a mighty steed, worthy of a powerful emperor.
But when Jesus came to town what was He riding? (A donkey) Why would He do that? Well, partly, He did that to fulfill the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, YOUR KING IS COMING to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey...”