Jesus’ Triumphal Entry
The story of the triumphal entry is one of just a small number of events in Jesus’ life which appears in all four Gospels. This makes it particularly significant for a number of reasons, not the least of which pointing to exactly Who Jesus is and what He came to do. If you haven’t read it, take a moment to do that now in the Gospels (Ref. Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19).
Three Powerful Truths Related to the Triumphal Entry
1) Jesus made public His claim to be Messiah and King of Israel in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.
Matthew, who wrote to a Jewish audience, says that the King coming on a colt, the foal of a donkey, was a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9.
It is not by accident that, a beast of burden that had never before carried a burden was about to carry the One who would take on the burden of sin for all mankind for all time. No greater burden has ever been carried.
Another reason Jesus rode into town on the back of a colt is that Jesus arriving in this way is a full declaration of His kingship. Riding on the colt of a donkey marked the official entry of Israel’s kings. So for Jesus to ride into town this way was a clear sign that He was Israel’s true king, who had come to rescue God’s people, and all who would believe, from the bondage and oppression of sin.
Finally, Jesus choosing to ride a donkey signified not war, but peace. In ancient times, kings sometimes chose to ride a donkey into a town when they were on a mission of peace. Jesus was on a peace mission; ultimately to bring mankind peace with God for all who believe. (Acts 10:36; Luke 2:14)
2) Jesus was worshipped and adored by the crowds, not as the spiritual Savior they needed, but as the political savior they wanted. (Matthew 21:8-9)
The word the crowds shouted, Hosanna, comes from a Hebrew word that means “save now” or “save us, we pray.” This word was significant, especially coupled with the phrase “Son of David” because this meant that the Jews were acknowledging Jesus as their Messiah. (Ref. 1 Chronicles 17:11-14)
But there was a major disconnect between what Jesus had come to do and what the crowd thought Jesus had come to do; they were looking for political salvation, not spiritual salvation. They were looking for something they wanted, not what they really needed. They were shouting the right words, but for the wrong reasons and with the wrong expectations.
3) No longer does Jesus tell His disciples to be quiet about Him, but to shout His praises and worship Him openly. (Luke 19:39-40). Throughout His public ministry, Jesus had told His followers to stay quiet about Who He was; in fact, scholars often refer to that as the “messianic secret.” (Ref. Matthew 12:16) Jesus knew how that information would be received by the religious and political elite and it was not yet time. But now, Jesus knew the time was near, so He allowed and welcomed His followers’ praise, honor and worship.
What does this powerful narrative teach us?
Jesus triumphal entry is a story of contrasts that highlight some vital truths for us:
As His followers, we want to be like Jesus, characterized by a servant’s heart and a humble spirit. It is the story of the King who came, not on a prancing stallion in royal robes, but on a beast of burden, wearing and riding on the clothes of the poor and oppressed.
As His followers, we want to reflect His love, His grace, and His mercy. Jesus came not to conquer by force as earthly kings often do, but to relate to us in love, grace, and mercy. We don’t compromise on truth, especially related to sin; but as His faithful followers, we follow His example.
When Jesus makes a triumphal entry into our hearts, He reigns there in peace and love. Jesus conquers not nations, but hearts and minds.
For much more, click here to watch the worship service and listen to the message, The Week that Changed the World - Part 1 - The Triumphal Entry.