The Bible gives a large amount of attention to the Triumphal Entry of Christ in to the City of Jerusalem on the day which is called Palm Sunday.
“And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem. 29 And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, 30 Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. 31 And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? Thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.” (Luke 19:28-31)
There is a little more information given in Matthew’s gospel of this event, for Matthew’s gospel was written for a Jewish audience. Matthew notes, “4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.” (Matt. 21:4-6)
There are more allusions, or references to the Old Testament in Matthew’s gospel than in the other gospels. The desire of Matthew was to remind his Jewish readers of the connection between the Old Testament Messiah, and the New Testament person and work of Jesus.
In the Triumphal Entry, Jesus fully disclosed something He had been careful to keep relatively hidden to this point, and that was, He was the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. For this reason Jesus came riding on a donkey, and not on a white charger or in a golden chariot. Scripture must be fulfilled.
“And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. 8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. 10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? 11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” (Matt. 21:6-11)
When the people cried out, “Hosanna in the highest”, they were honoring Jesus as a dignitary, much like people today might say about a special occasion, “We will roll out a red carpet.” Jesus’ Red Carpet moment was significant. as people made a comfortable place for Him to sit as they placed clothing on the back of the donkey. The donkey was a small animal in Israel. Then the people threw their clothing in the pathway the donkey was to travel as a gesture of honor and celebration.
There is a lovely story that Sir Walter Raleigh once laid his cloak over a mud puddle to keep Queen Elizabeth I from getting her feet wet. Raleigh did catch the queen’s attention in 1581 when he urged England to conquer Ireland. The queen rewarded him with extensive landholdings in England and Ireland, knighted him in 1584, and named him captain of the queen’s guard two years later.
However, an illicit affair with one of the queen’s maids of honor in 1592 did him in. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London and ultimately beheaded for treachery. The story of the cloak and the mud puddle probably originated with historian Thomas Fuller, who was known for embellishing facts. (10 Historical Misconceptions by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.)
When the people placed their clothing at the feet of Jesus, they were treating Him as the coming King. This was reserved for royalty. They also placed palm branches before the Lord. Many were waving their arms at Jesus as they line up along the street. And they were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” It was a spectacular moment.
The word “Hosanna” is a term of exaltation, and adoration. But was also an ancient term for palm branches. The idea was that a palm branch was used to signify a great victory. As a means of celebrating a great victory the people would wave a hosanna, a palm branch, accompanied by a shout of acclamation, or a shout of victory. The palm branch signified victory.
Why is that important?
Because Jesus was going to the Cross. But He was not going to a defeat, but to His victory over sin, Satan, and death itself. Without realizing it, the people in the crowd on that Palm Sunday were celebrating the victory the King of kings would win.
It is often taught that the same crowd became fickle just a few days later, to cry out against Jesus shouting, “Crucify Him!” “Crucify Him!” It is said that this was done because the expectations of the people concerning Christ were not realized. Perhaps that is true. Still, for one brief shining moment there was the shout of victory, to the point, that the Pharisees circulating in the crowd wanted Jesus to silence His disciples.
“And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; 38 Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. 39 And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.” (Luke 19:37-39)
The religious establishment was upset with Jesus. They regarded His ministry as a threat to the teaching and the Jewish heritage. So they rebuked Jesus, and told Him in turn to rebuke His disciples. “Just tell them to hush!”
But Jesus would not do that. “And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luke 19:40) Jesus refused to rebuke His disciple on Palm Sunday, because there was a cosmic significance to this moment. Jesus was not simply the leader of a small radical religious group. His central message has been that the Kingdom of God was in the midst of the people, and He is the King of that Kingdom, of which there shall be no end. Jesus was God’s appointed King who was entering into Jerusalem. Jesus was not some fleshly king of human origin. He is the King of kings to whom all knees shall bow. He is a cosmic King. His rule extends not only over all the earth, but over the whole universe. Therefore shout! Shout for the King’s victory! People must not be blind and dumb by refusing to recognize the manifestation of God in their midst.
Historically, through the prophets, the LORD lamented that, “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.” (Isaiah 1:3) That changed on Palm Sunday. The disciples of Christ know the Scriptures. And they know their Messiah.” If the disciples of Christ were rebuked, then the cosmos, the rocks, the universe itself must break out in praise to the King. So the stones had more sense than the Pharisees.
Beginning from the Mount of Olives, Jesus wound his way down the slope, around the Kedron Valley, and into the entrance of the City of Jerusalem, allowing the crowd to grow larger and larger still. He was received as a King, a Conquering King, a Victorious King. Church, “Behold your King!”
The concept of the Messiah as coming King was rooted in Jewish tradition, and so was the idea of the King giving a hosanna to His followers.
“I Esdras saw upon the mount Sion a great people, whom I could not number, and they all praised the Lord with songs.
43 And in the midst of them there was a young man of a high stature, taller than all the rest, and upon every one of their heads he set crowns, and was more exalted; which I marvelled at greatly.
44 So I asked the angel, and said, Sir, what are these?
45 He answered and said unto me, These be they that have put off the mortal clothing, and put on the immortal, and have confessed the name of God: now are they crowned, and receive palms.
46 Then said I unto the angel, What young person is it that crowneth them, and giveth them palms in their hands?
47 So he answered and said unto me, It is the Son of God, whom they have confessed in the world. Then began I greatly to commend them that stood so stiffly for the name of the Lord.
48 Then the angel said unto me, Go thy way, and tell my people what manner of things, and how great wonders of the Lord thy God, thou hast seen.” (2 Esdras 2:42-48)
Let the people of God rejoice. The King has come, and will reward all who celebrate His victory. Come then, to the King of the kingdom. Bow before Him. Enter into His victory over sin, death, and destruction.