The Messianic King and The Passover Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.
Two parallel roles which Christ fulfills.
We will be taking a look at what is often referred to as the “Triumphal Entry” or “Palm Sunday”.
These titles speak of the occasion in which Jesus rides a young donkey into the city of Jerusalem during the time of Passover, on the Sunday prior to His crucifixion.
This event is recorded in all four gospel narratives.
The Triumphal Entry / Palm Sunday
Matthew 21:1-11 (donkey and colt)
Luke 19:28-40 (only colt)
Though we will be connecting portions of each gospel account, our primary text will be focused on the narrative found in Matthew’s gospel.
1 As they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, on the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,
2 saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt beside her. Untie them and bring them to Me.
3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them right away.”
4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”
6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.
7 They brought the donkey and the colt and laid their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.
8 A massive crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
9 The crowds that went ahead of Him and those that followed were shouting: “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!”
10 When Jesus had entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Jesus and His disciples have traveled from Galilee, across the Jordan river, and through Jericho.
Jericho is about 17 miles east of Jerusalem.
Passing through Jericho is where Jesus encountered Zacchaeus, the chief tax-collector who climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Jesus.
Along this road is also where Jesus healed the two blind men, one of which was named Bartimaeus.
Jesus’ approach towards Jerusalem comes from the east, and the eastern side of the city is marked by a series of mountain ranges and valleys. So the trek would’ve been up hills and down through valleys.
On the top of these ranges, are two small villages called Bethany and Bethphage.
We’re told in
Bethany was near Jerusalem, a little less than two miles away.
Bethphage was a sister city located about a mile east of Jerusalem on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives.
The Mount of Olives rises some 2,700 feet above sea level, and directly overlooks the temple area.
Most of the photographs you see looking over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount are taken from this elevated position on the Mt. of Olives.
During the final days of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry, the gospels mention how He would often return to spend the night on the Mount of Olives.
I like to imagine Him sitting up there, praying and looking out over the city below.
Why the journey?
Jesus and His disciples have been making their way up to Jerusalem in order to celebrate the Passover.
The Passover was one of the most holiest festivals of the Jews, as it commemorates their deliverance from Egyptian bondage.
In fact, common law stated that all Jewish males 20 years and older, who lived within a 20 mile radius of Jerusalem had to travel to the city to celebrate the Passover.
So there would’ve been thousands of other travelers along this road also, coming to celebrate the Passover festival at the end of the week.
The city of Jerusalem would’ve been filled with people.
Passover commemorates the Biblical story of the Exodus, where God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.
In order to protect their firstborn children from God’s final plague on Egypt, the Israelites were instructed to mark their doorposts and lentils with the blood of a lamb. The angel of death would see the lamb’s blood applied and ‘pass over’ that home, sparing the life of the firstborn inside.
Thus the name Passover.
The instructions for keeping the Passover are prescribed in the Old Testament book of Exodus.
3) Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man must select a lamb for his family, one per household.
4) If the household is too small for a whole lamb, they are to share with the nearest neighbor based on the number of people, and apportion the lamb accordingly.
5) Your lamb must be an unblemished year-old male, and you may take it from the sheep or the goats.
6) You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel will slaughter the animals at twilight.
7) Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.
So on the 10th day of Nisan the lambs were to be selected, and then taken into the home. For the next four days, the lamb would be inspected by the family.
Then on the fourth day, which would be the 14th of Nisan, the animal would be sacrificed at twilight (the distinct boundary between daytime and nighttime), and consumed by the household.
According to the Jewish calendar, Passover always takes place on the 14th of Nisan.
This coincides with March-April on our calendar.
Other Scripture references: (Passover on the 14th)
The Passover to the LORD begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month.
The fourteenth day of the first month is the LORD’s Passover.
The Passover lambs were selected on the 10th day, and it was on that 10th day that Jesus made His Triumphal entrance into the city.
Jesus is about to enter the city of Jerusalem through the east gate, on a Sunday, the first day of the week. Over these next several days, Jesus will teach in the temple grounds and be interrogated by the religious leaders trying to discredit Him. These four days Jesus spends in the temple are a fulfillment of Scripture.
While each family in Jerusalem will be taking a lamb into their homes, to be inspected for blemishes or defect, at the very same time, Jesus will be entering into His Father’s house – the Temple, to be “inspected” or scrutinized by the religious leaders.
As the families take their lamb with them into their homes, for the remaining days leading up to the Passover, as you can imagine, this would’ve allowed time for somewhat of a bond to begin to develop.
Why is this important?
Because, when that animal was then to be given up as a sacrifice for that particular family, it caused them to realize, “that should be me… this animal, though it had no fault of its own, had to give up its life in order to atone for my sins.”
The Passover lamb clearly foreshadows Jesus, who is our Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Just as the blood of the Passover Lamb saved the Hebrew people from death, so too, it’s the blood of Jesus that redeems us and saves us from the bondage of sin and death.
Staying in Bethany with Lazarus
In John chapter 12:1-2
Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with Him.
This tells us when Jesus arrives, and why He is staying in Bethany. He stays and has a Sabbath meal with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.
During this dinner, is when Mary anoints Jesus with a pound of expensive perfume, and then dries His feet with her hair. We get an idea of how costly this perfume would’ve been because Judas gets upset about it and asks, “Why was this not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” The text also makes clear that Judas did not ask this genuinely out of concern for the poor, but because he was the treasurer in charge of keeping the money, and he would often steal from it.
An average days wage was about one denarius, therefore three hundred denarii would’ve been almost a years wage. What an extravagant display of worship seen by Mary, to honor the Lord before His death and burial.
Also notice John 12:9
When a large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of Him but also to see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.
Lazarus now had an amazing and unique testimony. He had been dead for four days before Jesus came and called him out of the grave.
This emphasizes some of those who made up the large crowd surrounding Jesus as He enters the city.
Part of the crowd had come with Him from Galilee and Jericho, another part streamed in from Bethany, excited by the recent resurrection of Lazarus (John 12:17). Some went before Him, some followed. As they advanced they were met by a fresh crowd pouring forth from Jerusalem to welcome Him into the city.
But notice the reaction of the chief priests
But the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.
Lazarus had become an object of interest.
The large crowd came not only to see Jesus, but also it says on account of Lazarus whom He had raised from the dead.
Now the chief priests wanted to put him to death also.
What had Lazarus done wrong? What had this man done to deserve death?
The answer is nothing.
It was not anything Lazarus had done.
It was what Jesus had done in his life.
Lazarus was not trying to attract attention, it was simply that he had now become a living testimony.
The crowd that had been with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness.
The reason why the crowd went to meet Him was that they heard He had done this sign.
So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him.”
This man, Lazarus, was now an undeniable testimony to the authenticity and power of Jesus. Many in the crowd were bearing witness to this great miracle, which was causing many of the Jews to believe in Jesus. Because of this, these religious leaders were plotting to snuff them both out.
Lazarus had already died, and was four days in the tomb whenever Jesus raised him from the dead. And yet their plan is to kill him again. How much sense does that make?
It would seem that they had at least enough sense to understand that they had to kill both men though, because if not, Jesus was fully capable of simply raising Lazarus to life all over again.
Will Jesus Even Show Up?
Because of this hostility of the religious leaders, there was an air of expectancy as to whether or not Jesus would even show up during the feast.
55) Now the Jewish Passover was near, and many people went up from the country to Jerusalem to purify themselves before the Passover.
56) They kept looking for Jesus and asking one another as they stood in the temple courts, “What do you think? Will He come to the feast at all?” (Is He even going to show up?)
57) But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where He was must report it, so that they could arrest Him.
Jesus is basically a wanted fugitive at this point.
But notice the anticipation of the people, the text says they were looking for Him, asking about Him. “Do you think He will show up?”
This is the one whom everyone wanted to see. This is the one who had cast out demons, cleansed the lepers, healed the sick, given sight to the blind, and even raised the dead.
Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were two days away, and the chief priests and the scribes were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill Him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”
Notice how they realized if they didn’t take Jesus underhandedly in secret, the crowds would possibly cause an uproar.
47) Then the chief priests and Pharisees gathered the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we to do? This man is performing many signs.
48) If we allow Him to go on like this, everyone will believe in Him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”
49) Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them,
“You know nothing at all!”
50) You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
51) He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation
Jesus did not fear the chief priests and Pharisees. He knew they were plotting to kill Him, yet He came openly and publicly to the city in the sight of all as their Messiah. He knew well that there would be no turning back from this point.
After all, Jesus had clearly foretold of His death, this was not a surprise to Him
Matthew 20:18-19 (see also Mark 10:33-34)
“Look, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes. They will condemn Him to death and will deliver Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. And on the third day He will be raised to life.”
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. They will mock Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.”
Jesus is not a victim to circumstance. These things aren’t just happening to Him. He is in control as He is making His way to Jerusalem. God is orchestrating all of this as His Son is being led by the Spirit, and Scripture is being fulfilled which had been written centuries earlier.
Sending For the Donkey
John 12:1 Jesus was in Bethany 6 days before the Passover, this was a Saturday
John 12:12 says “The next day..” this would be Sunday
After Observing the Sabbath in Bethany, Friday evening through Saturday evening, Jesus arose Sunday morning to enter the city of Jerusalem. This was the first day of what would be Jesus’ final week on Earth.
He sends two disciples into the neighboring village of Bethphage, in order to bring back a donkey and her young colt.
He explains in detail where they will find these animals, and even what they are to respond to the owners if asked why they are untying the animals.
Naturally if you start to take someone’s property, they’re going to ask, “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?”
In Mark’s gospel, we see it happens just like this.
1) As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent out two of His disciples
2) and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as soon as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here.
3) If anyone asks, ‘Why are you doing this?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it and will return it shortly.’ ”
4) So they went and found the colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. They untied it,
5) and some who were standing there asked, “Why are you untying the colt?”
6) The disciples answered as Jesus had instructed them, and the people gave them permission.
And also from Luke’s gospel
32) Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as He had told them.
33) As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”
34) The disciples replied, “The Lord needs it.”
I like to imagine the owners response was something like, “Oh, well in that case, here let me help you with that, I’ve got a tricky slip-knot on the tie out there.”
The Lord Has Need of Them
“The Lord has need of them”
What a phrase.
This is somewhat of a paradoxical statement.. yet it illustrates how Jesus came in humility.
In His humanity, He merely borrowed everything He would use throughout His ministry.
He was laid in a borrowed manger at His birth. He was laid in a borrowed tomb at His death.
Here, we see that Jesus borrows this young donkey, to ride to His own humble Coronation.
Though the crown that was about to be placed upon His head was not one of jewels, but of thorns.
Travelers this way would indeed ride donkeys, but this of course, was not due to any weariness. Jesus had travelled on foot all the way from Galilee to Bethany, and He certainly could have continued on for the final two miles. However, this was done so that He might enter into the city of Jerusalem as was prophesied of Him in Zechariah 9:9.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon writes:
“What a singular conjunction of words is here, ‘the Lord’ and ‘hath need!’ Jesus, without laying aside his sovereignty, had taken a nature full of needs; yet, being in need, he was still the Lord and could command his subjects and requisition their property.” (Spurgeon)
Maybe you’re familiar with the expression, “God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.”
This is taken from
”For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.”
Everything in creation belongs to God, to use as He sees fit.
When we refer to God as ‘owning the cattle on a thousand hills’, we are simply acknowledging that God is the rightful owner over all His creation.
And this serves as an encouragement to us as believers because we understand that God has the means to provide for His children. He is able to move and to allocate these provisions according to His will.
In this case, someone owned these particular animals, and yet ultimately they were still God’s property. These owners knew that they were simply stewards, in charge of what God had given them. So when this situation came about, and these men said this phrase, “the Lord has need of them”, they knew that this was an opportunity to be faithful and permit them to be used for His purposes, for His will.
May we too, remember that we are to be faithful stewards of all that we own.
Nothing we own truly belongs to us- it remains God’s property, even as He allows us to possess it for a time.
We should approach our possessions with that same understanding- Our needs are met by God and what we currently possess ultimately belongs to Him.
Was This Event Prearranged?
Now, the question has been asked by some- Is this a prearranged event? Did Jesus have all this set up in advance? And was this response, “the Lord has need of them”, some kind of code-phrase He had given to the disciples, so the owners would recognize and know these were the right guys?
While that certainly is a possibility, none of the four gospel narratives gives us an explicit indication to this.
To assume that these events were set up beforehand, one would have to use more imagination and mental gymnastics than what the plain reading of the text provides.
We must be careful when it comes to gap-filling above and beyond what is written.
I lean more towards this being a supernatural display of Christ’s foreknowledge.
When Jesus sends the two disciples to get the colt, He tells them where to go, what they will find, what will happen once they find it, and what they are to say in response.
Why do each of the gospel writers devote so much attention to the way Jesus acquired the animal? If there’s no real significance, why is so much detail given?
Because I believe in these details, there is a witness to Jesus’ true identity.
Was it also a prearranged event when Jesus told Peter to drop a line in the lake, and that the first fish he caught would contain a coin in its mouth, which would be the sufficient amount in order to pay for both their taxes? (Matthew 17:27)
No, this was a clear demonstration of the foreknowledge of Christ.
Or when Philip tells Nathaniel to come and see Jesus.
Jesus saw Nathaniel coming and said “Behold, a true Israelite, in whom there is no deceit.”
Nathaniel asked Him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathaniel answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
We know that this doesn’t simply mean that Nathaniel was taking a rest in the shade under a fig tree, and Jesus happened to look across and see him from a distance. No, It’s clear that this reveals a supernatural knowledge from how Nathaniel himself responds. He says, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God, the King of Israel.” He is acknowledging that what you saw and know, no man could have known.
Upon Which No One Has Ever Sat
The writings of Mark and Luke add the detail that this young donkey had never before been ridden. God’s providence had made sure that this animal had been reserved, sanctified and set apart for this very purpose.
This highlights the holiness and importance of that moment. In that day, an animal reserved for royal use would not be used for common purposes. It was set apart, or sanctified.
An example is found in the selection of the red heifer
Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the statute of the law that the LORD has commanded: Instruct the Israelites to bring you an unblemished red heifer that has no defect and has never been placed under a yoke.
Also, for transporting the Ark of the Covenant
1 Samuel 6:7
Now then, take and prepare a new cart and two milk cows on which there has never come a yoke, and hitch the cows to the cart
So by requiring an animal that had never been ridden upon, this was a testimony to Jesus’ royal and holy identity. God in His divine sovereignty, has made sure that this animal has been reserved, consecrated and set aside for His Son, for this particular day, for this particular occasion.
He had orchestrated the circumstances well in advance, in order to make provisions for this very moment. I mean, the colt would have to be birthed at the right time, and in the right place, and never have been ridden upon.
All of this is a testimony to God’s divine provision.
Also, because this animal had never been ridden, and no yoke had ever come upon it’s neck, it was an unbroken animal. Normally, it would be incredibly difficult to ride an unbroken animal through a crowded and chaotic scene, all while carrying an unfamiliar burden on its back.
And yet, despite the noise and calamity of the crowd, the colt remains calm under the One who quiets the winds and stills the waters of the storm.
Matthew’s gospel is the only account in which we’re told that both the donkey and the colt were brought. Why would both animals be needed if Jesus only rode the colt into Jerusalem? The simple answer is that the colt was young and still attached to its mother, and vice versa.
I see this as a generous consideration.
Bringing the mother along would’ve provided a comforting familiarity for both animals in an otherwise uncomfortable and unfamiliar situation.
What’s the Significance of Riding a Donkey?
What’s the significance of riding in on a donkey anyway?
Matthew gives us that answer in verses 4-5 quoted from the prophet Zechariah 9:9 which had been prophesied some 500 years earlier.
This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
“Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”
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, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
In that time and area, Horses were rare and generally only used in warfare. You would ride a horse into a city as a show of power, if you intended to make a threat. Mules and donkeys were more common, and associated with times of peace. For a king or a prince to ride into a city on a donkey was a gesture of peace, not aggression.
King Solomon rode a mule to his coronation. (1 Kings 2:33)
Jesus’ choice to ride into Jerusalem upon donkey was certainly deliberate. He did so to fulfill prophecy and reveal Himself as Israel’s long-awaited Messianic King, the promised descendant of Judah and Son of David.
Notice how the text mentions that He would come in “gently” – that is that He would be non-threatening, humble.
Jesus did not come in prominence, as a conqueror mounted upon a warhorse in a show of power. Instead, He came in meekness and gentleness, seated on a young donkey.
Jesus came not in majesty, but in mercy, in order to work salvation.
He was not coming at that time to conquer through force, but to reconcile through sacrifice.
Though He was indeed a King, this King did not come to be seated on a throne, but to be nailed to a cross.
Cloaks and Palm Branches
Verses 6-7: So The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and laid their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.
This was almost like a makeshift saddle for Jesus to sit on.
Verse 8: A massive crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
John’s gospel in 12:13 tells us they were palm branches.
Verse 9: The crowds went ahead of Him and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!”
This was a King’s procession, and by the people casting down their cloaks and laying out palm branches, they were creating a layer on top of the ground for Jesus and the colt to walk upon. This was the equivalent to, ‘rolling out the red carpet.’
This gesture of the crowd spreading out their cloaks on the road, symbolized their acknowledgement and honor of Jesus as their King.
We see an example of this in the Old Testament
2 Kings 9:13
Quickly, each man took his garment and put it under Jehu on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and proclaimed, “Jehu is king!”
So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”
At that time, palm branches were a symbol which conveyed joy and triumph.
Palm motifs commonly appeared on Jewish coinage as well as in the decorations of their synagogues.
Palm branches were also seen as a symbol of national victory and liberation for Israel.
In the First Book of Maccabees, though not considered to be inspired Scripture, but a historical book, it documents the account of an early victory during the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Empire. In 142 BC, Simon and his men had just recaptured the Temple.
1 Maccabees 13:51-52
” On the twenty-third day of the second month, in the one hundred and seventy-first year, Simon and his men entered the citadel singing hymns of praise and thanksgiving, waving palm branches, and playing harps, cymbals, and stringed instruments, because a great enemy had been defeated and removed from Israel. Simon decreed that every year they should celebrate this day with rejoicing. He strengthened the fortifications of the temple hill alongside the citadel, and he and his men lived there.”
The Temple was then cleansed and rededicated, which became the source of the Hanukkah festival, or the Feast of Dedication. The Hebrew word Hanukkah actually means “dedication”.
It seems as though you and I as believers will also get the opportunity to wave palm branches to participate in a proper victory celebration of our Lord Jesus.
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,
and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
The Crowds Cry “Hosanna in the Highest!”
This large, enthusiastic crowd greeted Jesus with words from the Messianic Psalm 118:25-26.
Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.
Hosanna is a Hebrew word ‘hoshiah-na’
which is a compound of ‘Yasha’ : to save, to deliver
and ‘anna’ : to beseech, to earnestly pray
Originally, this was used as an urgent plea for deliverance or salvation.
Later, the word became used as more of a jubilant praise, such as ‘Hallelujah!’ Much like how it’s used in our modern worship music.
As an example:
In its original meaning, “Hosanna!” is what someone who was drowning would cry out. “Help, please save me!”
While in its later meaning, “Hosanna!” is what someone who had just been rescued from drowning would cry out. “My life has been saved, Praise the Lord!”
“Essentially it is a people’s cry for deliverance and for help in the day of their trouble; it is an oppressed people’s cry to their savior and their king.”
Their intent is made clear as the crowd adds another line which is not found in the Psalm: “Blessed is the King of Israel!” (John 12:13)
Pharisees Tell Jesus to Rebuke His Disciples
The chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees certainly observed the proclamations of the people toward Jesus as their king, because they were astonished and told Jesus to rebuke His followers for making such statements.
Luke 19:37-39 (The Pharisees tell Jesus to rebuke His disciples)
37 And as He approached the descent from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of disciples began to praise God joyfully in a loud voice for all the miracles they had seen:
38 “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 But some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples!”
The Pharisees want Him to stop His disciples from making these claims, because they understand that they are Messianic statements. They see this as blasphemy.
How does Jesus respond?
“I tell you,” He answered, “if they remain silent, the very stones will cry out.”
In hearing the praises of the people, some of the Pharisees in the crowd tell Jesus to rebuke His disciples. However, to do this would be to deny the validity of their proclamations. Therefore Jesus responds, “I tell you, if these were to keep silent, the very stones would cry out.”
In other words, He is saying that this day had been prophesied, and nothing was going to prevent God’s word from being fulfilled. His word cannot be broken.
Even if these crowds did not recognize Him as Messiah and rejoice, then the very creation itself would! On this day, in this moment, Jesus was going to be praised.
Throughout most of His earlier ministry, Jesus would discourage people from publicly celebrating Him as Messiah.
After Jesus fed the multitudes, the crowds had wanted to crown Jesus as King by force, but He did not allow it.
When the people saw the sign that He had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
Perceiving that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by Himself.
This time Jesus does not suppress the enthusiasm and the proclamations of the crowds.
We do well to pay attention to what’s happening here.
The Pharisees say to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples!”
For what? Singing a Psalm?
Whenever you and I as outside readers run the risk of missing a point, the reaction of the Pharisees help to explain the significance of that particular moment. Anytime they become upset, we want to understand why.
The Pharisees understood what maybe the crowds had not. In their enthusiasm, they are declaring Him to be the Messianic King. This is why the Pharisees become offended and tell Jesus that He should prevent them from proclaiming such a thing.
Jesus allows this rejoicing and praise. Because what is taking place and being celebrated is true, even if those who are celebrating do not fully understand its significance in this moment.
”It was not fitting that the Lamb of God should come to be slain on Calvary privately or silently. Before the great sacrifice for the sin of the world was offered up, it was only right that every eye be fixed on Him. It was suitable that the crowning act of our Lord’s life should be done with as much notoriety as possible. The atoning blood of the Lamb was about to be shed and this deed was not to be done in a corner.”
This was an intentional display for all to see. Purposefully dramatic. He does not slip in stealthily, but boldly center stage.
The appointed time had come, and Jesus was publicly making an unmistakable claim to be the Messianic King which God had promised.
Misunderstood Expectations of the People
Unfortunately, many in the crowds who welcomed Him that day by shouting out “Hosanna!”, were hoping and expecting that Jesus would deliver them from the oppression of the Roman Empire.
-Randolph Tasker, commentary
“They greeted Jesus as a king, though ignorant of the nature of His kingship. It would seem that they looked upon Him as a potential nationalistic leader, with whose help they might be able to become wholly independent of foreign powers.”
Jesus was certainly entering the city that day bringing with Him salvation, but not in the way that they may have expected.
They welcomed Him out of their desire for a deliverer, one who would lead a revolt against Rome.
Unfortunately, they did not understand the spiritual mission which Jesus would accomplish during His first coming. They were expecting Him to ride into the city, be proclaimed as King, and to overthrow the Roman occupation. They were anticipating Jesus to liberate Israel politically, and to finally establish the Davidic Kingdom.
Even when questioned by Pilate in
John 18:36 “Are you a king?”
Jesus replied, “My Kingdom is not of this world.”
While it now remains a spiritual Kingdom, there is coming a day when Jesus will return to establish His physical Kingdom on the earth.
At that time, He will not come again in humility riding on a donkey, but in power and glory mounted on a white horse.
At the beginning of the week, when Jesus was whom they thought Him to be, the people cried out “Hosanna in the Highest!” and praised Him and honored Him as a king by laying down their cloaks and waving palm branches.
However, only days later, at the end of this very same week, whenever Jesus did not meet their expectations, many of this same crowd who were chanting “Hosanna!” would be crying “Crucify Him!”
Instead of welcoming Him as king, they would fashion a crown made out of thorns, and place it upon His head to jeer and mock Him as a king.
Think about that for a moment.
This used to puzzle me when I was younger.
How could they flip like that?
But as I’ve grown older, and experienced more of life’s hardships, I’ve come to understand how human nature can become jaded and disillusioned when faced with severe disappointments.
These people had all their stakes set on a particular outcome, and were then greatly disappointed whenever things didn’t play out that way.
Instead of conquering and overthrowing the Romans, there is Jesus chained and beaten in their custody. Surely the people were thinking, “No way, that’s impossible. This can’t be our guy…”
But make no mistake, this switch-up of the people never fooled our Lord.
Earlier in His ministry, in
While He was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the signs He was doing and believed in His name. But Jesus on His part did not entrust Himself to them, because He knew all men, and because He had no need that anyone should testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.
Human beings are fickle creatures, often filled with, and governed by fleeting emotions. Folks may applaud and praise and cheer for you one moment, only to deny, reject, and betray you the next.
When Jesus did not do things the way they expected Him to, many of the people turned away and rejected Him.
There are plenty who are willing to accept Jesus for whom they imagine Him to be, but few who will accept Him as He truly is.
Let this be a lesson to us as well, that we may be wary of only being excited and willing to accept Jesus on our own terms, so long as He fulfills our own specific expectations.
Let us be mindful that our part is to trust and obey Him, regardless of how the circumstances seem, so that we do not become disillusioned and fall away whenever our own expectations are not met.
We do well to remember, that it is we who must submit to His will as Lord, not the other way around.
Jesus Looks Over the City and Weeps
It was here, on the final descent from the Mount of Olives, that Jesus looked over the city and wept, knowing the judgment that would come upon Jerusalem.
As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it and said, “If only you had known on this day what would bring you peace! But now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will barricade you and surround you and hem you in on every side. They will level you to the ground, you and the children within you. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”
This was a deeply moving moment for Jesus. He wept. His tears were not for His own fate which was shortly to take place, but for the fate of the city itself.
He said, “If only you had known this day what would bring you peace!”
This is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), saddened by the stubborn rejection of the nation He came to redeem.
We see another similar lament of Jesus over the city
In Matthew 23:37
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”
Notice here, how Jesus speaks as though He were the One looking through the corridors of time, pleading with the nation to make righteous choices, as time and time again they failed to obey the will of God.
He speaks of Himself as a mother hen who longs to gather her babies beneath the shelter of her wings, as though He were actually in a position capable to have been that nation’s ultimate protector.
All this of course, points much beyond the mere 33 years of life which Christ spent on earth.
He says, “This was My desire for you, I was willing and able, but you were unwilling.”
We must not lay so much weight on the sovereignty of God, that we ignore the reality of man’s choices and responsibility. We make real choices, for which we are held fully accountable.
Deuteronomy 30:19 (Choose Life)
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live,
When men have the choice of life and death set before them, and they choose death, it is a tragic thing.
When we have a Savior who can weep over the choices of men, then there is something wrong with our view if we believe that men are not responsible for their choices.
If this were not so, then the tears of Jesus would’ve been merely an act.
Luke 19: 43-44
”For the days will come upon you when your enemies will barricade you and surround you and hem you in on every side. They will level you to the ground, you and the children within you. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”
It’s a matter of recorded history that 38 years later, in 70 AD, just 3 days before Passover, Titus Vespasian lead the Roman legions to lay siege on Jerusalem.
They eventually leveled the city and set fire to the Temple. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus writes that there were over a million people slaughtered.
The Arch of Titus was then built in Rome to honor this conquest, and can still be seen today. The monument depicts the treasures of the Temple, including the Menorah, being looted and carried away by his armies.
Notice how Jesus refers to this as a “visitation.”
A visitation is brief, it’s not ongoing. He came in His first visit in order to make atonement for sin, not to set up the eternal Kingdom. The Jews did not recognize this, and therefore they are still awaiting their Messiah to this day.
”Because you knew not the time of your visitation.”
Jesus was holding them accountable for not recognizing the time.
Why? How were they expected to know?
Daniel’s 70 Week Prophecy
Because this was the time which had been foretold by the prophet Daniel in chapter 9.
Jesus held them accountable to know what was written in their very own Scriptures.
The Book of Daniel is one of the most authenticated books of the Old Testament, both historically and archaeologically.
It’s also important to understand that the Book of Daniel existed in documented form almost three centuries before Christ was born.
I, Daniel, understood from the sacred books, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.
So I turned my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and petition, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.
While Daniel is praying on behalf of his people, The angel Gabriel comes to give him insight.
Daniel’s Seventy Weeks
”Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city to stop their transgression, to put an end to sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy Place.
Know and understand this: From the issuance of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until the Messiah, the Prince, there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of distress.”
The Hebrew word used as week here, “shabuwa”, also known as a heptad, and simply refers to a unit of seven. It could be used to speak in terms of days or years.
Here the literal rendering of the text is, “seventy units of seven.”
We know that it’s being used here to speak of years.
”Your people” that is the Jews, “and your Holy city” that is Jerusalem.
Verse 25 “Know therefore and understand this: that from the issuance of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until the Messiah, the Prince, there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.”
”Restore and rebuild Jerusalem”
At the time Daniel was writing, the city remained in ruble. In 586 BC the Babylonians had destroyed Jerusalem.
Gabriel reveals to Daniel the starting point for the seventy-weeks prophecy.
A decree to restore and build Jerusalem would began this specific period of time.
”From the time the decree goes forth to rebuild it, until the time Messiah the Prince comes, there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.”
In 445 B.C., King Artaxerxes issued such a decree, giving Nehemiah permission, safe passage and supplies to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and its walls.
This can be found in (Nehemiah 2:1-8).
“Until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks”:
7+ 62 = 69 weeks, ie. ‘heptads’ or units of seven years.
69 X 7 = 483 years
That’s how much time would pass from the time the decree was issued, as recorded in Nehemiah 2:1-8, until the appearance of Messiah the Prince.
Ancient Israel followed a lunar calendar, not a solar calendar, so their year consisted of 360 days, not 365.
We clearly see in the book of Revelation that a ‘time’ or year, consists of 360 days.
In Revelation 12:6, we’re told that the woman flees into the wilderness for a period of 1,260 days. When we read the equivalent passage in chapter 14, it refers to this period as “a time, times, and half a time” (Three and a half, or 3.5).
Therefore, if we divide 1,260 by 3.5, we get 360 days per time.
The full equation:
7 and 62 = That is 69
(69 x 7 years) = 483
483(years) x 360 (days/year) = 173,880 days
Thus, we see a remarkable fulfillment of prophecy unfold. A gentile ruler, King Artaxerxes issued a decree to restore and rebuild the city of Jerusalem, and then 483 years later to the day, Jesus rode into the city presenting Himself as Messiah, the Prince.
He Came in Meekness, He will return in Glory
Although He first came in gentle and lowly, Jesus will return in power and great glory.
At that time He will no longer be the suffering servant riding on a donkey, He will be the conquering King mounted on a white horse.
Then I saw heaven standing open, and there before me was a white horse. And its rider is called Faithful and True. With righteousness He judges and wages war.
In righteousness He judges and makes war. We’re also told that at that time, the word of His mouth will consume His enemies.
John Walvoord, in his commentary
“There is nothing more inflexible than divine judgment where grace has been spurned. This scene of awful judgment is in flat contradiction of the modern point of view that God is dominated entirely by His attribute of love.”
It’s good for us to remember that this dramatic display of judgment comes only at the end of a long period of grace, patience, and mercy.
Jesus has allowed an ample amount of time and has displayed His patient nature of mercy, forgiveness and grace to this fallen world.
He now comes to judge with righteousness, a world hardened and totally given over to their rebellion against Him.
Thomas Torrance, Scottish Theologian
“The world likes a complacent, reasonable religion, and so it is always ready to revere some pale Galilean image of Jesus, some meager anemic Messiah”
See, many people don’t mind the lowly and humble Jesus.
Jesus as the suffering servant, the meek one who turns the other cheek, the one who weeps, and who bleeds.
They prefer the Jesus on the cross. Or the little baby Jesus tucked away in a manger- because that’s non intrusive you see. Non threatening.
He can be ignored, spit upon, and rejected.
But Christ our Lord will return in power and great glory. At that time He will no longer be the suffering servant, He will be the conquering King. He will not be riding on a donkey in meekness, but mounted upon a white horse in majesty.
And this time, every knee will bow & every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord!