Entry Into Jerusalem
This study must be preceded by the lengthy reading of Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-44 and John 12:12-16. Obviously the reading is too long to be included in our text, but you have them in your Bible. We urge you read them first
All four biographers of Jesus record what is called Him triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem. It was a triumph for Jesus and His disciples. It is better understood as a loving appeal to the people of that city to accept Him for who He is, the Son of God, the coming King. It reveals the extent to which Jesus went to bless mankind.
Jesus and His disciples had been touring Palestine, Luke 9:51, “And it came to pass when the time was come that he should he received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.”Mark 10:31, “And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and they went before them; and they were amazed, and as they followed they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what thing should happen unto him.” Jesus had traveled this way many times under different circumstances. This was to be His last journey. The road to Jerusalem was not an easy one for the Lord to take. No man looks forward to the agony of death on the cross. He had told His disciples, Mark 10:33,34, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall he delivered up to the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles, and they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him; and the third day he shall rise again.”It was a lonesome walk even though His disciples were with Him. It was in many ways a road that He had to travel alone for none could make the journey for Him. He compelled Himself to go to Jerusalem.
What Was Before Him?
What awaited Him there? There would soon be the encounter regarding the fig tree, the second cleansing of the temple, the last observance of the Passover, His discussion with His disciples, His prayer in the garden, Judas' betrayal, His humiliation before mock trials and hostile tribunals. Eventually, the death on the cross was to follow.After this in three days, His resurrection. He was going toward the culmination of His work on earth; marching straight into the hands of His enemies. There was already a price on His head. The eyes of authorities marked His every move and condemned Him as a criminal. He was arrested at the first convenient moment. The people, knowing these things, even wondered if He would come to the Passover at all (John 11:56,57).
Jesus could not have chosen a time when Jerusalem had more crowds and intense religious feelings than this time. Jews in Palestine, even the world over, thronged to keep the Passover. Josephus, the Jewish historian of the first century, suggests possibly three million people were in the city. The Passover was one of the most sacred and best-observed Jewish celebrations. Jesus could not have chosen a time with greater opportunity to accentuate His message, but neither would there be a time when there would be more opposition.
The crowded conditions, the religious intensity, only emphasize the deliberate manner of His entry. It was a planned action rather than something done on impulse. He had told His disciples what He intended to do. He had them assist Him by securing an ass upon which He could ride. Zechariah had prophesied the event nearly five hundred years earlier (Zechariah 9:9).
The deliberate way of His entry reveals it as an act of supreme courage, which is a mark of Christ, and should be the mark of all who profess to follow Him. Sometimes courage may be born of impulse, born under the pressure of a sudden emergency, when there is no time to think the matter through or weigh the consequences. Action is sometimes almost an instinctive impulse. Such courage is admirable.
But there is a higher courage and that is the courage of one who has considered his actions and sees clearly the dangers and personal consequences. It is the courage of having counted the cost and finding it awesome but he deliberately pursues the right course of duty nonetheless. This is the type of courage manifested by Jesus here. This courage makes us love Him and respect Him all the more. He knew His duty and the dangers, yet, deliberately went to Jerusalem. What strong love motivated His journey!
Why did He do it? Sometimes we learn why things are done because it is explicitly stated. Other times we learn by the way some action is used. His reasons are not explicitly stated, but notice how He used this event.
Jesus used a method of action at Jerusalem, which was often used by Old Testament prophets. It was a dramatic, symbolic action that presented the message. Men might fail to listen, but they were less likely to fail to see. Ahijah foretold to Jeroboam that ten tribes would revolt against Rehoboam by taking a garment and renting it into twelve pieces, giving ten to Jeroboam. This was impressive of the message he delivered.
Jeremiah walked about Jerusalem years earlier with a yoke on his neck forewarning Judah of the slavery that was to come if they did not repent. This dramatic and symbolic action was commonplace in the preaching by Ezekiel. Jerusalem's entry was a presentation of the Lord's message by a meaningful and unmistakable attention getting deed. His purpose was to teach the message that it might enter the heart through both the eye and ear, even though the ear had 80 often been dull of hearing and the eye blinded by prejudice.
What was the message He conveyed? It was the same message He had been preaching over three years. He claimed to be the promised King, the successor to David's throne, the coming King of God's everlasting kingdom. Such a role had been announced at His birth (Luke 1:31-33). He had acknowledged this before Pilate (John 18:33-37). The entry into Jerusalem symbolized and emphasized this message.
In the eastern and oriental world the ass was a noble beast, the beast upon which kings rode when they came in peace. It was the horse that was ridden by warriors. When David proclaimed Solomon to be the king after him he had Solomon placed upon an ass and taken through the streets as he was acclaimed king. Jesus was appealing to Jerusalem to make Him a throne in their hearts and acknowledge Him as God's Son, the promised King to come, the King of a spiritual kingdom, universal and everlasting. Here was one more dramatic appeal in a long line of loving appeals Jesus had made that He might be accepted and give salvation to others. He said in essence, “Will you, O Jerusalem, accept me for the One I said I am?"
Reactions Toward Him
Luke says the disciples cried, “Hosanna, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”The Pharisees insisted Jesus stop His disciples from saying this. But Jesus answered, Luke 19:40, “I tell you, that if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”What was shouted was truth. Whether others accepted that truth or not, it did not alter the truth in any way.
For the most part, the people rejected Him, causing Him to later say, Matthew 23:37, “0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” What a pity for those people! What an opportunity they had! But their rejection was their loss and neither did it prevent the kingdom from coming. It did exclude them, if they remained of that frame of mind, from entering therein.
His assertion of divine royalty, His action of supreme courage, His offer of love and salvation is remarkable. Was it all for naught? For those who reject Him it amounts to their condemnation. They doom themselves to an eternal hell. But for those who receive Him, as He is, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the Son of God and Savior of the world, it was a great manifestation of His love. It provides additional evidence upon which we base our faith in Him. Its very revelation is a demonstration of Deity's concern for the spiritual welfare of mankind. We stand in awe and marvel at the gracious, loving and noble action of Christ that He took on he half of us all.