April 2 – Jerusalem, The Triumphal Entry (Palm Sunday)
by Victoria Parker
Read: The Triumphal Entry (Mark 11:1-10)
Key Verse: Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! (Psalm 118:25-26)
The Triumphal Entry beautifully connects Old Testament prophesies and potent symbolism, rich with meaning for us. By the time Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, crowds of people had heard His message (Mark 10:1). More crowds would have gathered in Roman-ruled Jerusalem for the Passover pilgrimage (Mark 11). God’s plan for this week is filled with signs the Jews would have recognized from their history, law, and prophets.
Zechariah 9:9 says: “Rejoice greatly … 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.” Jews on that day would have immediately understood the picture of Jesus on the donkey: This is the Messiah! His identity has been revealed! They spread their cloaks and leafy branches on the road (John 12:13). (See that custom also in 2 Kings 9:13.) Clearly the Jews believed Jesus was the King, the Messiah, who had come to free them from Roman rule. Their expectation of a conquering king, however, would prove to be unfulfilled as the week progressed. Their mistake seems clear in hindsight, as the donkey represents peace in many Old Testament passages, while horses are associated with war.
God’s design to reveal Jesus’ identity to the masses at Passover and in Jerusalem was strategic. As part of the Passover rituals, a lamb would be sacrificed at the Temple of Jerusalem. Just as the blood of a perfect lamb caused the angel of death to pass over homes in Egypt, “the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” causes “the wrath of God to ‘pass over’ all who place their trust in Him”1 (1 Pet. 1:19). This paints a vibrant image of Jesus as the sacrificial lamb. (See John 1:29.)
Further, the geographical location of Jerusalem was intentional: the Lord said “This is Jerusalem; I have set her in the midst of the nations and the countries all around her” (Ezek. 5:5). Jews from far-off places who traveled there for Passover would witness the incredible events of the week. Crowds of pilgrims ensured that Christ’s story and the message of what happened in Jerusalem would be spread quickly and far away.
What an extraordinary testament to God’s perfect planning!
1 The Complete Jewish Study Bible, p. 1637