Matthew 21: 1 – 11
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[c]
“Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
‘Hark hark hark while infant voices sing loud Hosannas to our King’. So says the great Palm Sunday hymn, going on to say ‘All unite to swell the song.’
And sing they did, proclaiming Jesus as King, laying down their cloaks less the donkey stumble on the rough cobbles. A great rejoicing; here was their Saviour arriving to deliver them from occupation and subjugation at Passover too, just as Moses had delivered them from bondage centuries before. No wonder they cheered. No wonder they cut down palm fronds. No wonder the rejoicing voices were raised in triumphant song, and not just the children, but all united to swell the welcome.
They sang, though, for the wrong deliverance. Jesus came not to achieve a military victory over the Romans, but to give a victory over sin, fear, and death.
But that is not what the people wanted.
They wanted their victory on their terms, but Jesus did not work that way.
He came proclaiming his humility by riding on a donkey. No doubt he could have arranged the loan of a horse, perhaps even a Roman chariot, but that was not His way.
Centuries later in December 1917 General Allenby, having defeated the Turks firstly in Gaza then at Jerusalem, came to enter the city held Holy by all three Abrahamic religions.
It was a momentous occasion; for the first time in many centuries a Christian was in command of Jerusalem, and Allenby’s staff organised a triumphal entry for him, not least to match that of the Kaiser who had been received with great pomp riding on a White Charger by the Ottoman’s 20 years before.
Allenby, likewise, was mounted on a magnificent horse, but as he and the parade neared the city gates he dismounted and much to the puzzlement of his officers announced he would walk into the city. Asked why, he replied that his Saviour had entered on a donkey and he could not enter any way other than on foot in true humility and respect.
During the coming week the people of Jerusalem would turn against Jesus as they saw he was not going to do the things they wanted, until in frustrated annoyance they called on Friday for his crucifixion.
But five days can be a long time, and much can be done. So as we celebrate his entry today, let us look forward to the lessons he will teach us, the example he will show us, and the courage he will display.
Let’s rejoice with those singing children and share in the great euphoria. God did not deliver Jesus from his time of trial; he will not deliver us from our present trials but he will be with us, that we might withstand, and like Jesus achieve the final victory.
Lord God our loving Father in Heaven, we rejoice as we walk the uneven path with you. Lift us if we fall, and support us if we feel weak. Dear Lord we pray we may be steadfast like your Son; our heads not turned by the adoration or displeasure of the crowd but instead only by how we serve you.
This week give us strength that we may walk with you.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,