Summary: This story of Jesus’ messianic entry into Jerusalem is one of the last links in the chain that leads toward the final cataclysmic event. Jesus steps into the limelight to draw attention to the most important event in history, His death & resurrection.
THE MESSIANIC ENTRY
The final week in Jesus’ earthly life begins with an outpouring of public recognition. This story of Jesus’ messianic entry into Jerusalem is found in all four gospels. It is one of the last links in the chain that leads toward the final cataclysmic event. Jesus steps into the limelight to highlight and draw the people’s attention to the enactment of the most important event of all history, His death and resurrection.
Jesus was such a controversial Person that it was impossible for Him to be near Jerusalem and remain unnoticed. From all over the country, people came to the Passover feast. Many sought out Jesus (11:56) and also Lazarus. Because Lazarus had been restored from the dead, many Jews believed in Jesus. So the chief priests planned to kill Jesus and Lazarus! They believed the removal of Jesus would end the threat, but since Jesus was following God’s plan for His life, it would only catapult Him into glory.
As we will observe, the honoring of Jesus effected different people in different ways. Of course the question still remains with us, “What do you do with the challenge to your life that Jesus presents to you?”
I. A JUBILANT ACCEPTANCE, 12-13.
II. A PROPHETIC FULFILLMENT, 14-16.
III. A SIGN ACKNOWLEDGED, 17-19.
IV. [A BIASED REJECTION, 19.]
With verse12 the last week of Jesus’ earthy life commences. On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
‘The next day’ was probably the Sunday before the crucifixion. As Jesus approaches Jerusalem a wild enthusiasm broke out. Thousands of Galilean pilgrims had come to the Passover, and they had seen many of His mighty works. Previously He had rejected the role of a political Messiah (6:15) but, they thought, perhaps now was the right moment. Jerusalem was the city of the great King and Jesus was coming to it.
To understand the events of that day we must try to realize how rapidly, and, as the rulers thought, how dangerously, excitement was rising among the crowds (estimates range from 100,000 to 2 million plus) who had come up for the Passover, and heard of the raising of Lazarus. The Passover was always a time when national feeling was ready to blaze up, and any spark might light the fire. It looked as if the resuscitation of Lazarus was going to be the match this time, and so, on the Saturday, the rulers had made up their minds to have Lazarus killed in order to stop the current that was flowing of accepting Jesus as the Messiah. They had previously made up their minds to dispose of Jesus. With cynical contempt for justice, they determined to ‘put Lazarus also to death’ also.
Because of this popular feeling it might have been expected that Jesus would, as He had until now, seek to escape into privacy, or discouraged the offered worship of a crowd whose Messianic ideal was so different from His. But Jesus knew that Scripture must be fulfilled so He allow this honoring and worshiping.
This crowd simply did not come to greet Him, they laid out a royal carpet for Him as verse 13 states. took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.”
Messianic anticipation was high. Enthusiastically the crowds welcomed Jesus. Waving their palm branches as symbols of victory (and possibly Jewish nationalism), the people were shouting (ekraugazon; 11:43) persistently (imperfect tense) Hosanna! The cry of “Hosanna” in Hebrew means “Please save” or “Save now” (Ps. 118:25). It was a shout of praise to God. Quoting Psalm 118:26, they ascribed messianic titles to Jesus as He who comes ( “the Coming One”; John 11:27) in the Name of the Lord.
The next praise, “Blessed is the king of Israel!” is not in the psalm and departs considerably from its intent. We thus understand that the crowds are greeting a national liberator.
“Triumphal entries” were common in the ancient world. A conquering hero or king would return to his city, bringing the spoils of his battles and stories of conquest. This imagery would not be missed. When John says that the crowd “went out to meet him,” this is a common expression used for cities meeting their triumphant, returning king. In a Jewish context, “Hosanna” was used to greet such incoming kings (2 Sam. 14:4; 2 Kings 6:26). In fact, Jewish culture adopted these forms of “royal welcomes.” [Burge, Gary M.; NIV Application Commentary, John:, 342. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, © 2000.]
II. A PROPHETIC FULFILLMENT, 14-16.
Jesus accepted this enthusiastic royal welcome and worship. Yet as we see in verse 14 He chose a donkey instead of a horse to make the statement that He was a different kind of King or Messiah than they expected. Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written,