In John 12:1-19 the Jewish leaders are at their wits end with Jesus. He doesn’t abide by their rules, and he challenges their authority.
Every time another person follows Jesus, it’s another thorn in their side. They are so upset about Lazarus’ resurrection, because of how many believed in Jesus following that miracle, that they want to kill both Jesus and Lazarus. Lazarus’ hasn’t even been back from the dead for very long, and they already want to kill him!
Jesus’ next move is one that conveys his authority. Rather than running away or laying low, Jesus decides to head to Jerusalem for Passover. He knew what that meant. He knew that by going to Jerusalem where his enemies (the Sanhedrin) were plotting against him that he would die, but he went anyway. Not because he was naive or because he was looking forward to his execution, but because it was his time and his purpose. His whole life had led up to this point and it was finally reaching its climax.
When Jesus approached the city, a crowd came to meet him carrying palm branches and declaring, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” Then Jesus rolled in on a donkey.
Examining His Entrance
This triumphal entrance is important because it was a declaration of who Jesus was.
- The palm branches were a symbol of Jewish nationalism. By greeting Jesus with the palm branches the people were greeting him as a king.
- “The cry Hosanna meant ‘save now,’ and on this day the crowd received Jesus as a triumphant Messiah” (David Guzik).
- To me, the funniest part of Jesus’ triumphal entrance is that he rode in on a young donkey. Why was this important? To me it just seems like an odd choice in transportation. Well, it’s important for two reasons:
- It fulfilled an Old Testament prophecy from Zechariah 9:9 regarding the coming Messiah.
- It showed what kind of king Jesus was. He was a king of peace, not war. “The [colt] was not normally used by a warlike person. It was the animal of a man of peace, a priest, a merchant or the like. It might also be used by a person of importance but in connection with peaceable purposes. A conqueror would ride into the city on a war horse, or perhaps march in on foot at the head of his troops. The [colt] speaks of peace” (Morris). This would have been disappointing to many Jews because they wanted a messiah that would come as a king of war and free them from gentile oppression.
What I love about this story is that Jesus’ kingship is finally recognized. He was about to be crucified for it, but without his sacrifice and kingship in my own life, I would be lost.