It is the start of Holy Week, and as we set our eyes and focus towards the end of the week, we don’t want to miss what happened just a few days before Christ’s execution.
In our traditional calendars, it was only three short months ago that we celebrated the birth of Jesus. Here’s a few exciting things that happened along the way that have to lead to this moment:
- Jesus was presented at the temple (age 8ish) (Luke 2:21-24)
- Simeon sees the Messiah (Luke 2:25-35)
- Jesus is Baptized by John (Luke 3:21-22)
- The Temptation of Christ (Matthew 4:1-11)
- Jesus turns water into wine (John 2:1-12)
- Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44)
- Countless miracles (all Gospels)
And this leads us to Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Traditional calendars call this day Palm Sunday because of the use of palm branches the citizens of Jerusalem used to hail Jesus.
You can find the story of the triumphant entry in Luke 19:28-40. It begins,
“After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’ Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ They replied, “The Lord needs it.” (Luke 19:28-34)
As the disciples had seen throughout Jesus’ ministry, He often predicted what the conversations would be and how they would unfold.
He knew when and where the colt would be and how the owner would react. Interestingly, the owner, when told who it would be for, gave it up willingly and with a heart of generosity.
“Its owner asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt? They replied, ‘The Lord needs it.”
No push back, no second-guessing – the owner released it willingly. The phrase “the Lord needs it” implies the owner knew who Jesus was and respected Him. Jesus had performed great miracles throughout the land and was widely popular except in religious leaders' eyes.
Now the celebration begins…
“They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:”
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
The Lord came into Jerusalem riding on a colt, and the disciples got the party going by shouting and yelling while others joined in. At this time, they lined the road with palm branches, laid garments in the road, and praised Him as king (Mark 11:8-10).
Scholars believe, and scripture backs this up, the people were looking for their earthly Messiah, and when they shouted “Hosanna,” they wanted immediate relief from the tyranny of the religious leaders and the governing body where they lived.
They thought Jesus was the answer to their earthly troubles when in reality, He was the answer to all of their troubles – physical, spiritual, emotional, and relational.
When the religious leaders encountered Jesus and his shouting disciples, they wanted Him to rebuke them for their behavior. I love this verse; it says,
“Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ ‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’”
If they are silent, the stones will cry out. I wonder what that would sound like?
Imagine your brick wall in your backyard starting to sing, shout, and whine with jubilee – it would probably be a little frightening, I think.
At the time of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the citizens wanted instant healing, instant gratification, but they missed the point of Jesus’ birth and ministry. He was not there for the short-term deliverance, but He offered life everlasting.
Some would see it and believe it.
Others would see Him, praise Him momentarily, and join the masses later that week shouting, “Crucify Him.”
Luke finishes this account with the words from Jesus that says,
“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.’” (Luke 19:41-42)
Jesus was troubled and saddened as he looked over the city of Jerusalem. It says He wept over it. Since He was fully God and fully human, I wonder if He saw the shouting, yelling, beating, and His death that would come only a few short days from now when He looked out over the city.
I can’t imagine what that would feel like or look like in our mind's eye, and I hope I never do. Jesus says the people of Jerusalem were looking for their Messiah, and He had been among them for the past three years. However, since they missed him, their eyes would now be closed to the truth.
This week, as we enter Holy Week or Easter Week, take a few minutes to follow the narrative of Jesus’ path from His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, to the cross, and ultimately to His Resurrection.
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