MATTHEW 21:1-11 | PHILLIPIANS 2:6-11 | MATTHEW 26:14-27:66
It’s Palm Sunday.
Jesus has been secretly planning his entrance into Jerusalem. Right now, he wanted to stay under the radar of the religious leaders. He made secret arrangements to procure a donkey and her colt. He was planning a prophetic act. He was going to dramatize the messianic prophecy of Zechariah. “Behold, your king comes to you, meek, and riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”
It was Passover time. Jerusalem would be bursting with pilgrims. Some estimations put the number to as many as two million. His prophetic entrance into the Holy City would serve as a public announcement; Jesus was the Messiah. The crowds picked up on it immediately. Some people spread their cloaks on the road while others strewed branches along the road just as their ancestors did when Judas Maccabeus entered Jerusalem in triumph after his defeat of Antiochus Epiphanes.
The crowds preceding and following Jesus shouted messianic acclamations: “Hosanna (save us) to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
The residents of Jerusalem were shocked to see the multitude. Asking who this was coming into the city on a donkey, they we told, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth!”
Jesus went straight into the temple and performed a second prophetic act; he drove out the money changers and the people selling animals for ritual sacrifice. Quoting the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah he shouted at them, “My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!” The area Jesus cleansed was the court of the Gentiles, the only place reserved for non-Jews. His prophetic act called all people to God’s house, Jew and Gentile alike.
It was official, and without any doubt; Jesus was revealing himself as the Messiah. His announcement was what the religious leadership wanted to hear. It gave them grounds to pursue his execution. But they were alarmed at his popularity.
We’ll follow Jesus throughout this week. We’ll see him making secret arrangements to celebrate Passover. We’ll see him wash the feet of the apostles. We’ll pray with him in the garden, witness his arrest and stand at the foot of his cross. We’ll go to the tomb and wait for the sun to rise.