By Brooke Holt
“And they brought [the colt] to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” (Luke 19:35–38)
The Jews who knew their Old Testament Scriptures knew what to look for in the promised Messiah. The most prominent verse for us to consider as we celebrate Palm Sunday is 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.” When Jesus entered Jerusalem that day, he was declaring that he was the Messiah, the promised one of God.
Many people recognized Jesus as that promised Messiah. They joined in the celebration, laying down their cloaks, waving palm branches, and rejoicing over Jesus. The King was here, so there was hope for Israel. Their time of waiting was over! Or was it? Even though everything about that day fit with the prophetic words of Zechariah. But even though the people proclaimed the words of Psalm 24 and 118, the mission of Jesus the King would not be the instant fulfillment of their hopes and dreams. What happens when the long-awaited Savior dies a criminal’s death on a cross? God’s people had forgotten the words of Isaiah 53—this Messiah would be the suffering servant.
Many of those who rejoiced over Jesus on Monday were screaming on Friday: “Crucify, crucify him!” (Luke 23:20). How fickle humans can be! In the triumphal entry, the crowds recognized Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophetic words in Zechariah. But before Pilate on Friday, the people turned away. Jesus was not the Messiah they wanted. They wanted a conquering king, one who would bring peace and prosperity back to the nation of Israel and remove the oppression of the Romans. Jesus offered freedom, restoration, and hope. However, it was not temporal freedom, restoration, and hope—it was freedom, restoration, and hope for eternity.
Because of their expectations for the Messiah, the people did not recognize that Jesus was the fulfillment of all the Messianic prophecies. He was not yet the conquering king they wanted, but he would be. At his resurrection, Jesus conquered sin, death, and Satan. And he promises the victory of his resurrection to all who follow him.
“’O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55–57).
Do you recognize the King of kings? Are you surrendering to his mission even when it is not what you expected or wanted? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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