April 17, 2011


"The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him,shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!” ~John 12:12-17

A public setting....tensions and expectations that have been growing since chapters 7 and 8 of the Gospel of John are coming to a head. The air in Jerusalem is charged with excitement...and a foreboding that seems to linger in the dark shadowy cracks of the city walls...and in the crevices of the dark hearts of wicked men.

The hour for the for the Son of Man to be glorified has nearly come.

Jesus' entry into Jerusalem is dramatic. By openly entering the city where he is a marked man with a price on His head he takes the first step toward the final confrontation. To face the powers of this evil world head on. Obedient to the Father knowing it leads to His death.

Passover, a feast that Jews were to attend in Jerusalem. The population of Jerusalem swelled enormously at this time. A crowd begins to gather from around Israel and the larger world of the diaspora. The news of Jesus has spread into every corner of this middle eastern city.

"Will He will come to the feast?!?!"

The anticipation is so thick it could be cut with a knife. News arrives in the crowds in Jerusalem.

"Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem! We must prepare! He comes!" The public emulates and mimics the emotional expression of Mary only en masse. "Our Savior has arrived!". The enthusiasm is barely contained.

"LORD, save us! LORD, grant us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you." ~Psalms 118:25-26

This is an entirely perfect thing to do as Jesus is coming up to Jerusalem. But there is more involved here. The cry of "Hosanna!" is a Hebrew word (hoshi`ah-na) that had become a greeting or shout of praise but that actually meant "Save!" or "Help!" (an intensive form of imperative). These were not praises alone. They were also supplications and pleas to a King. They were forms of words used to address a/the King with a need. In the case of humanity, the need of blood atonement that was soon to come for all of mankind's sins...long before many would ever realize they needed it. Hallelujah! The palm branches the people carry and throw at His feet are symbolic of a victorious ruler during the Maccabean era.

The cry of Hosanna! and the palm branches are in themselves somewhat clouded in origin, but their import is made clear as the crowd adds a further line: "Blessed is the King of Israel!" Clearly they see in Jesus the answer to their nationalistic, messianic hopes. Earlier a crowd had wanted to make Jesus king (John 6:15), and now this crowd is recognizing him as King in the city of the great King. Here is the Davidic ruler who would come and liberate Israel, establishing peace and subduing the Gentiles.

Jesus' response to the accolades? Jesus responds by finding a young donkey to sit on, purposely making a mess of the scene they have created. He should have found a stallion, a horse or symbol of power and virility to ride on. Why did He look for a donkey's colt. How silly of Jesus. How embarrassing. Instead Jesus paints and constructs the image of the humble servant, deliberately. The same one outlined in the Prophets. The same one illustrated in Isaiah. The servant who will suffer by His people's own hands. His action undercuts their nationalism and points in a different direction, evoking an image from the Prophets. The Prophets that they ostracized, ignored, mocked, threw in wells, silenced and killed. His actions point to a Kingdom  and a Kingdom's rule....but not a kingdom of earthly origin. A Kingdom of God.

"Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." ~Zechariah 9:9

A colt, not a full grown donkey. A baby or adolescent donkey. A donkey so short our Savior would've need to bend His leg at the knee. He would've needed to bend them so His sandalled feet would not drag the ground and get scraped and cut up on the dry and rocky soil of Jerusalem. A nearly laughable image like stuffing a tall man in a short small car. He is indeed king, but not the sort of king they have in mind.

John tells us they (the disciples) do not make the connection with the passage from Zechariah at the time.

"At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him". ~John 12:16

The disciples were caught up in the whirlwind of divinely ordained events and did not really understand what was going on. The scenerio continues to unfold and the march of time moves on. The disciples and the crowd thought they were honoring Jesus, and they were. The true meaning of what was really going on was lost on all of them, disciples included. Until His death and resurrection, they would not be able to see it all in the correct perspective. Until the Paraklete came it would make little or no sense.


The truth is vocalized in the chants and singing as Jesus rides this colt into the city on God's Holy Mountain. "Help!" and "Save!"

It is exactly for this purpose that Jesus the Son of God has come. It is exactly for this Jesus will be betrayed. Why He will be scourged. Why He will be accused as an innocent man. It is why he will be crucified. It is why He will be buried. It is why He will rise again from the grave on the third day. Inadvertantly in their praise and misunderstanding they are unwittlingly pronouncing His purpose for all within earshot to hear. Unwittingly proclaiming His true identity and no man can thwart this glorious proclamation.

"Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest!"

Our King has arrived, and He will be with us even to the end of the age. Forever.

The beauty of it all is breathtaking from the eyes of this sinner.

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