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Verses 28-44


119. The triumphal entry (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19)

The time had now come for Jesus to challenge his opponents openly by a clear public demonstration that he was Israel’s Messiah. The Jewish leaders wanted to arrest him, but when told of his whereabouts they feared to take action. They were unsure of the extent of Jesus’ popular support (cf. John 11:57; John 12:9-11).

To make sure that nothing stopped him from making a bold public entry into Jerusalem, Jesus had made a secret arrangement with some unnamed villagers who would provide the donkey that he would ride. By using a pre-arranged password, two of his disciples collected the donkey and brought it to him (Matthew 21:1-3; Luke 19:28-34).

As the messianic king, the son of David, Jesus then entered his royal city of Zion. He came not riding a horse as a conquering warlord, but sitting on a donkey as a king of peace, as the Scriptures foretold (see Zechariah 9:9). People who were in Jerusalem for the Passover, along with local residents, welcomed him as the Messiah. They may not have understood the nature of his messiahship, but they were enthusiastic in their acceptance of him (Matthew 21:4-11; Luke 19:35-38; John 12:12-16. (The word ‘Hosanna’, meaning ‘Save us, O Lord’, came from two Hebrew words found in Psalms 118:0, where Israel’s victorious king was welcomed with the words, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’; Psalms 118:25-26. By New Testament times the two expressions, used together, had become a declaration of praise to God for the promised Messiah.)

The Pharisees were annoyed at the welcome Jesus received and unsuccessfully tried to persuade him to silence the people (Luke 19:39-40). As the news of Jesus’ raising of Lazarus spread, more and more people flocked to see him. The thing the Pharisees most feared was happening before their eyes (John 12:17-19).

Jesus, however, was not deceived by this enthusiastic welcome. He knew that when people properly understood the nature of his messiahship, they would turn against him. The nation as a whole would reject him, and in the judgment to follow, Jerusalem would be destroyed (Luke 19:41-44). The significance of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was not political but spiritual, and therefore he went not to the palace but to the temple. He took note of what was happening there, then returned with his disciples to Bethany, where they spent the night (Mark 11:11).

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