PALM SUNDAY: Prophesied Procession
The sun rising over the Mount of Olives signaled the beginning of a new day to most living in Jerusalem. However, Christians are quick to recognize that the day was essential to God’s plan and purpose.
As Jesus and the disciples proceeded to Jerusalem, followers began attaching themselves to the company. By the time they reached Bethany at the crest of the Mount of Olives, an eager throng surrounded them proclaiming Jesus as Messiah.
What appeared to be a spontaneous gathering in the village of Bethany in reality was a set time predicted by the prophet Zechariah.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Jesus did not ride into the city of Jerusalem on a customary stallion of a conqueror, but on a donkey as Zechariah foretold. Quoting Zechariah’s words penned in approximately 487 B.C., Matthew tied this set time to the prophecy saying,
“All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet” (Mt. 21:4).
Throngs traveling with Jesus joining with the multitude from Jerusalem confirmed the significance. Converging together on their descent from the Mount of Olives, the fervor of the two groups erupted as words from the Hillel Psalm burst from their lips:
“Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” (Ps. 118:26; Mt. 21:9).
Some spread their coats and freshly cut palms as an improvised carpet on the road. Others waved the leafy branches in a sign of affection and support for the man now hailed Messiah as He approached the city.
No one living in or near the environs of Jerusalem that day could have missed what was taking place. Indeed, some religious leaders joined the group from Jerusalem to meet Jesus. Surrounded by jubilant voices, they commanded Jesus to rebuke His followers.
Patently offended by the exuberance of the crowds who ascribed the Messianic words of the Great Hillel to Jesus of Nazareth, the Lord stifled their reproof with a single sentence and accentuated the monumental significance of that prophesied day.
“I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Lk. 19:40).
The presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ at that set time and manner foretold by Hebrew prophets was so important God would allow nothing to diminish the impact (Dan. 9:24-26).
Had no crowds gathered to proclaim Jesus as Messiah, the rock-strewn mountains surrounding Jerusalem would have broadcast the news! If the multitudes had been stifled, rather than merely echoing the joyous shouts of the people, the landscape would have spontaneously burst forth in a deafening chorus identifying Messiah as He entered Jerusalem (cf. Ps. 19:1; Job 12:7-8, 38:7; Num. 22:28-30).
Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey unambiguously identified Him as Israel’s Messiah as foreseen centuries earlier. Some mistakenly assume that Jesus entered Jerusalem on this occasion to offer the Messianic Kingdom to a nation that would ultimately reject it. In truth, Messiah had already been rejected along with the Kingdom (Mt. 12:24-42).
At this point, Jesus entered Jerusalem not to usher in the Messianic Kingdom, but rather to identify Himself as Messiah in God’s unfolding plan for man’s redemption. (1)
1) This same Jesus will return to the capitol of Israel again. When He returns, He will not ride a donkey, but a white horse to usher in the promised Messianic Kingdom ruling the world from Jerusalem (Isa. 63; Rev. 19).
IMAGES AND DETAILS:
1) Le cortège dans les rues de Jérusalem, (The Procession in the Streets of Jerusalem). By James Tissot/via, Wikimedia/[PD-US, PD-Art]/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios
Copyright © 2016 Charles E. McCracken, comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.