It’s called Palm Sunday because the crowd took branches of Palm trees as they went out to welcome Lord Jesus (John 12:13).
It’s called The Triumphal Entry, and is recorded in all the four Gospels (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19).
But what makes it a Triumphal Entry?
I. Sitting on a donkey and her colt (Matthew 21:1-3).
“Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once” (Matthew 21:1-3).
There are three questions that rise out of this passage –
A. Was it his superior knowledge or his pre-arrangements with the owner?
1. Matthew doesn’t record if anyone raised any objection.
2. But in Mark 11:5-6 some of those who were standing there did raise question but later, satisfied with the answer, let them go
B. What was it – a donkey and her colt, a colt or just a young donkey?
1. Matthew says a donkey and her colt ( Matthew 21:2).
2. Mark and Luke have ‘a colt on which no one has ever sat (Mark 11:2; Luke 19:30).
3. John has a young donkey which Jesus himself found (John 12:14).
C. What was the need to the borrow the colt since our Lord had always walked on foot?
1. It was to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9
“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” (Zechariah 9:9).
2. It was the entrance of a king. Matthew 21:5
3. It was the entrance of a righteous king.
4. It was the entrance of a king, having salvation. Isaiah 62:11
“Behold, the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him” (Isaiah 62:11).
5. It was the entrance of a humble/gentle King, mounted on a colt, not on a war horse. Cf. Matthew 11:29
6. It was the entrance of a King with the message, ‘Fear not.’ (John 12:15).
II. Shoutings of people with all their enthusiasm (Matthew 21:9).
“And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9).
A. ‘Hosanna to the Son of David.’ Matthew 21:9; Psalm 118:25
1. Hosanna comes from the Hebrew word ‘Hosheea na’.
2. It means ‘Save (us) we pray’ and is taken from Psalm 118:25.
3. It came to be a note of praise as well as petition.
4. Matthew 21:15 has it that even children were shouting it.
B. ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest.’ Matthew21:9b, Psalm 118:26; Matthew 23:39
C. Probably these were of the chantings of the Song of the Ascent (Psalm 113-118).
D. It was by those who went ahead and those who followed responding to each other (Matthew 21:9; Cf. Exodus 15:20-21).
E. It was by the crowd who had gone for feast and had seen/heard Jesus’ raising of Lazarus (John 12:12,18).
F. It upset some of the Pharisees. They understood the Messianic connotation of ‘Son of David’ and ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of our Lord.’
III. Spreading of clothes and carrying of the palm branches in hands (Matthew 21:8; John 12:13).
“Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road” (Matthew 21:8).
“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!” (John 12:13).
A. Spreading of clothes was a mark of respect (Matthew 21:8; Cf. 2Kings 9:13 Commanders of army to Jehu).
“Then in haste every man of them took his garment and put it under him on the bare steps, and they blew the trumpet and proclaimed, “Jehu is king.” – 2 Kings 9:13″Then in haste every man of them took his garment and put it under him on the bare steps, and they blew the trumpet and proclaimed, “Jehu is king.” (2 Kings 9:13).
B. Waving of palm branches was mark of joy and victory ( Leviticus 23:40; Revelation 7:9).
“And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. – Leviticus 23:40
1. You shall rejoice. Leviticus 23:40
2. We have the similar scene in Revelation 7:9.
“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, – Revelation 7:9 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…” (Revelation 7:9)
IV. Stirring up of the whole city of Jerusalem (Matthew 21:10-11).
A. Before entering the city he wept over it. Luke 19:41-44
“And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side. and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44).
1. They had failed to know the things that make for peace. V.42
2. They had missed the time of their visitation. V.44
B. As he entered the city, the whole city was stirred. Matthew 21:10-11
“And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” – Matthew 21:10,11
1. Question – Who is he?
2. Answer- This is the Prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee ( Cf. Deuteronomy 18:15).
“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers-it is to him you shall listen…” (Deuteronomy 18:15).
C. The first thing that our Lord does after entering the city is that he cleanses it (Matthew 21:12). Mark has ‘the following day.’
“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” (Matthew 21:12-13).
1. They had made it a den of robbers. Matthew 21:12
2. They had made it a house of trade. John 2:16
“And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” (John 2:16)
1. Do we trust and obey as did the disciples?
2. Has there been a triumphal entry of our Lord in our hearts and homes?
3. Have we welcomed him joyfully in our hearts and homes?
4. Have we known the things that make for peace between God and us ?
5. Have we missed the day of his visitation in our lives?
6. Are our hearts and homes places of prayers and God’s holy dwellings, or have we made them a den of robbers and a house of trade.
7. When people ask, ‘Who is he?’ do we say he is the ‘Lord of all’ and ‘Savior of the world’? Or, do we just keep mum?
by Rev. Richard Masih, New Delhi