In this season of Lent leading up to Easter, we review the significant events of Jesus ministry leading up to his death and resurrection. On Palm Sunday, we paused to reflect on the triumphal entry:
Mark 11:1–10 “Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
As Jesus enters Jerusalem, the people are singing and rejoicing. They have heard of his great teaching and have asked, “What is this? A new teaching with authority!” They have seen his miraculous works and have asked, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Many have concluded that this must be the promised messiah, the Son of David who would come to save God’s people.
As Jesus enters Jerusalem, they sing Psalm 118, “Hosanna!” (That is, “save us we ask!”) Blessed is the coming Kingdom of our father David!” Earlier we saw that Jesus ministry began by proclaiming the near coming of this kingdom. These people believe that Jesus has come to do it.
Psalm 118 rehearses the steadfast love of the Lord. In it God’s people rejoice in the salvation that the Lord brought to Israel, they acknowledge the enemies that currently plague them, and they anticipate the coming salvation of the Lord saying, “I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.” What they don’t understand is how this salvation will take place. They anticipate a military conquest and a national rise to power like that of David. The actual fulfillment of this Psalm will be as Jesus has been trying to explain to his disciples; that he will go to Jerusalem, be handed over to the Romans, be crucified, and finally he will rise again. The disciples don’t understand and will abandon him. The crowds will be disenfranchised and turn on him; first hailing him as messiah, then calling for his crucifixion.
All this took place to fulfill the prophecy of Psalm 118:26-29, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD. The LORD is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” Jesus came in the name of the LORD, he was bound and sacrificed as the perfect Passover lamb. We are saved, not from physical enemies, but from our sin. We are saved, not by military power, but by Jesus’ humble sacrifice. We are brought in, not to a geographical kingdom, but to a spiritual, heavenly kingdom.
They may not have understood all that they were saying that day that Jesus went up to Jerusalem, but Jesus knew what must take place. Now we, with greater understanding, give the same cry to our Savior, “Hosanna! Save us we pray!” Now we, with greater understanding, sing the same praises to our God, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.” Now we, with greater understanding, give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!”