Today is "Palm Sunday" – the day when we celebrate Jesus' "triumphal entry" into Jerusalem. What is hard to get our minds wrapped around, is the fact that when Jesus decided to go to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover that particular year, he knew what awaited him. He knew he would be sacrificed just like all of those Passover lambs. But he told his disciples, "I MUST go to Jerusalem." (Matthew 16:21) Scripture says that he set his face like a flint (Luke 9:51) – as the head of an arrow toward the city.
The crowd that met him that Sunday was so excited. It had just been days before this that Jesus had done the impossible by raising Lazarus after he had been dead for four days. According to the Jewish Talmud, this happened to be one of the key signs that the Rabbis had been looking for when it came to identifying the true Messiah.
The excitement from the crowd would have just added to an already electric atmosphere that Sunday. We know that the Romans were prepared for a riot. The historian Josephus tells us that they would always bring extra troops into the city during Passover to maintain peace and order. But as Jesus came into the city, and the scene began to unfold, the tensions would have just continued to intensify. When the crowd shouted, "Hosanna!" meaning, "Save Lord! Save us now!" we know the Romans would have heard it with all of its political, revolutionary overtones.
No wonder we see the religious leaders begging Jesus to, "Rebuke your disciples! Tell them to settle down! Do you want a bloodbath in the streets? Do you want the Romans to ban Passover?"
And while Jesus refused to put a wet blanket on the people's passion by saying, "If they remain silent the very stones will cry out," (Luke 19:40) even in the way he made his entrance, Jesus was communicating that he was there on a very different mission. For one thing, King Jesus didn't come riding into the city on a stallion; he came in humble and gentle on the foal of a donkey.
In the ancient world, the expectation was that if a king was there to conquer the city, he would ride into it on a horse. But if he were there on a mission of peace, he would ride in on a donkey. So, even in Jesus' mode of transportation, he was saying that he hadn't come to fight against the Romans. He had come on a mission of peace: to bring peace between humanity and God. Of course, the book of Revelation tells us that the day is coming when Jesus will ride in on a white horse, and on that day he will indeed come to judge the enemies of God. But that's his second coming. His first coming was meant to provide a way of peace and reconciliation.
In addition to this, we know from Exodus 12 that the Sunday before Passover was lamb selection day. These lambs had to be without blemish – no open sores, no broken bones, no blotches. Could it be that when Jesus came into town that Sunday, it was God's way of saying, "Here is my perfect, spotless Lamb. Will you pick him?"
In all of these ways, Jesus was communicating the fact that he was a different kind of King. He came to fight a different kind of battle. He wanted to bring a different kind of freedom. The throne he was after wasn't the throne of a palace, but the throne of our hearts. The triumphal entry he most wants to make isn't into a city, but into our lives.
Take some time today to contemplate the lengths that Jesus – the perfect, spotless Lamb of God – was willing to go to in order to bring us peace with God and to save us in the most important way we needed to be saved. Thank him for his willingness to make way for us.
Pastor of Rockyview Alliance – former worship Pastor at Foothills – famous angelic actor – author of longest devotional in 2020 history (but it was too good to make shorter!)