Jesus Enters Jerusalem
(Matthew 21.1-11; Mark 11.1-11; Luke 19.28-40)
12The next day a large crowd was in Jerusalem for Passover. When they heard that Jesus was coming for the festival, 13 they took palm branches and went out to greet him. They shouted,
God bless the one who comes
in the name of the Lord!
God bless the King
14Jesus found a donkey and rode on it, just as the Scriptures say,
15 “People of Jerusalem,
don't be afraid!
Your King is now coming,
and he is riding
on a donkey.”
16At first, Jesus' disciples did not understand. But after he had been given his glory, they remembered all this. Everything had happened exactly as the Scriptures said it would.
17-18A crowd had come to meet Jesus because they had seen him call Lazarus out of the tomb. They kept talking about him and this miracle. 19But the Pharisees said to each other, “There is nothing we can do! Everyone in the world is following Jesus.”
At first they did not understand.
But they went ahead and did the right thing anyways.
The story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is familiar to us—the cries of praise and welcome, the breaking off and waving of palm branches, Jesus riding into the city on a young donkey. What is not so familiar is that his disciples and followers had no real idea what the dramatic event was all about.
People who had gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover rushed out of the gate Jesus was approaching, carrying palm branches and enthusiastically shouting, “Hosanna!” Which means, “Save!” Others called out from Psalm 118: “Baruch haba ha-Shem Adonai!” Which means, “Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord!” Still others cried, “Baruch Melek Israel!” They were crying, “Blessed is the King of Israel.”
In Luke’s gospel he tells us it wasn’t only people who had come to Jerusalem for Passover that were celebrating but the disciples of Jesus too, his closest followers. They too waved the palm branches, called out the Scripture, put robes on the path the donkey was taking, and treated Jesus like royalty.
But John recalls that he and the other disciples did not understand what was going on or what they were caught up in. “At first his disciples did not understand all this” (v 16). They did not fully realize that Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a young donkey or donkey’s colt was the fulfillment of a Messianic Prophecy found in Zechariah 9:9. They did not fully take in what it meant to cry out to Jesus, “Save!” John admits, “Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him” (v 16). They had done the right thing because they had been led by God’s Spirit to do the right thing but they did not comprehend the full significance of their actions and cries of praise until after Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection.
In the same way we can be led to do and say things that are holy and right yet have no vision of the big picture. They may seem like small and inconsequential things to us that are good in the moment but which we may not believe have any long lasting impact for God or his kingdom. Yet we may look back weeks or months or years later and see the fingerprints of God all over what we did and suddenly realize it was part of something epic, even prophetic, that he was bringing to pass, that we were part of it, but we just did not see it at the time.
If we are guided by the Lord to carry something out we should do it even if we cannot understand at the moment why it is important or what lasting effect it will have in our churches and in the world. In this way we are like the disciples crying, “Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord”, and bringing Jesus into situations that change the world around us even though we do not know what that change will look like or what it is all about. At such times we act on faith and trust in God alone and not by a full knowledge of what God is actually doing.
Lord, help us to act by faith and not by sight, to respond to the nudges you give us and not to hang back because we don’t fully understand what is going on or what you are doing. Help us to trust you and not to despise deeds which may seem small and of little significance to us. May we always act in such a way that we can cry out as we pray and serve, “Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord,” believing we are doing your will and are bringing the Lord Jesus Christ into every situation. Amen