The setting is Jerusalem at Passover season. This was the highlight of the Jewish year and would more than triple the population. It was into this situation that Jesus allowed His followers to do something that He never had before, and that was to give a public demonstration in His honor. This would knowingly set into motion the prophetic events that would lead to Jesus’ arrest, trials, beating, ridicule, crucifixion and ultimately His victorious resurrection.
This passage of scripture in the Bible of Jesus arriving in Jerusalem on a donkey is referred to as the triumphal entry. Yet the word triumphal is defined as; “pertaining to, celebrating, or commemorating a triumph or victory.” So what was Jesus’ triumph or victory at this point? Sure, He had a large following of people that were intrigued because of His miracles; He had just raised Lazarus from the dead. Some acknowledged Him as the promised Messiah. Some thought He was the warrior coming to liberate the people. Others were annoyed by Him, particularly the religious leaders. The Romans, they were on guard for fear that some zealot might cause an uprising and attempt to take the life of one of their leaders.
It was common in biblical times for kings or royalty to arrive on a donkey as a symbol of peace. For Jesus, He was arriving as the Prince of Peace and the significance of this act is that this was a fulfillment of Prophecy from Zechariah 9:9: Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt. The uniqueness of the parade and entry was not that of a typical victorious General returning from battle. The Romans were very familiar with this sight and the festivities that went with it. But instead, here is this diverse group of people; some wondering what was going on, others perhaps ridiculing, while others simply disregarded the event.
But the emphasis of the text is that the crowd, hearing that Jesus was coming, went out to meet Him. They threw palm branches (a symbol of peace) down and began to sing praise, to shout and cry out quoting from Psalm 118:25, 26; Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!
Hosanna - a Hebrew expression to save. How appropriate for the people to make this declaration. The people were looking for someone to free them, to liberate them from bondage. They were hoping Jesus was going to fight that battle. But He came not to fight a physical or political war but a spiritual battle.
He was about to be triumphant in a battle that no one expected. He would conquer sin and death on our behalf! He would be victorious over the penalty of sin to give us life eternal! He would go through the events of the coming week with all of its ridicule, persecution, struggles and trials and maintain the posture of being the Prince of Peace. He would win a battle without a harsh word, not fighting back, never raising a fist or sword. Jesus’ entry was triumphant because He came to fight a battle that we couldn't fight - to win a war that we could never hope to win. He came to conquer death on our behalf and give us victorious new life through the blood of Jesus Christ.
As children of God, we don't fight for victory we fight from victory. Jesus has conquered death and sin on our behalf and we can stand before Him forgiven and victorious if we will only repent.
So let us rejoice together;
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! Psalm 118:26 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised
him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
The same is true today when people encounter Jesus. Some ridicule, others ignore, while there are those that get irritated or even mad at the name of Jesus. As followers of Jesus, let us be faithful to praise Him and give Him glory, while being sensitive to the need for those around us to not only hear the Gospel (good news) of Jesus, but also to see it demonstrated. Let us put on the mind of Christ, the Prince of Peace, who loved others while being ridiculed, beaten and persecuted extended love and forgiveness.
There are many around us that need to know the love of Jesus Christ is freely available to them. Look for opportunities this Easter week to share the love of Jesus Christ with others. Let us fight from victory to proclaim the hope of our Messiah, Jesus Christ.