The Coming of Zion’s King
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.
Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”
They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
On this Palm Sunday, we celebrate the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, which inaugurates the beginning of Passion Week. Jesus’ final week of ministry will take place within the boundaries of the Holy City. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is significant for two reasons: 1) It is a purposeful action taken by Jesus to fulfill prophecy. 2) As Jesus offers himself as Messiah to Israel for the final time, the Jewish leaders will be forced to take action against Jesus. John’s Gospel confirms this in John 12:19: “So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”
The prophet Zechariah had prophesied that the Messiah would enter the holy city of Jerusalem “on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Mark’s Gospel tells us that Jesus instructed two of his disciples to retrieve a donkey which “no one has ever ridden.” The significance of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey is important. In the Old Testament, animals that had never been ridden or harnessed were considered appropriate for royal or religious purposes. The donkey serves as a symbol of humility as well as a fulfillment of prophecy.
John’s Gospel tells us that the crowd “took palm branches and went out to meet” Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem (John 12:13). The crowd celebrated the coming of the Messiah, but many in the crowd and even Jesus’ disciples, did not fully comprehend the significance of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into the Holy City. Many of the same people in the crowd who shouted, “Hosanna!” will shout “Crucify him!” in just a few days.
Mark’s Gospel story of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry ends with Jesus in the temple courts, “looking around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.” This concludes the events of Palm Sunday.