About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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    The Triumphal Entry (ch. 12:12-19)

Verse 12 says that "the next day" Jesus began His walk to Jerusalem .  The next day was probably our Sunday.  That being said, there is much dispute over the timing of events during the week prior to the cross.  The crowd of people who were already with Jesus met up with the crowd of people coming out of Jerusalem to meet Jesus.  Thousands of people would have come to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, and many of them heard that Jesus was on His way in.  John records that these people took branches off of palm trees.  The other gospels tell us that they laid the branches down on the road before Jesus as He walked into town.  This was a gesture of respect.


To see this clearly, there are two groups of Jews here.  One group came into town with Jesus.  The other group came out of Jerusalem to meet Jesus.  It was the tradition of the Jews in those days to gather at the Mount of Olives to sing some of the Psalms, Psalms 113 to 18 specifically, since they were Psalms of praise and victory. 


John said that these people carried palm branches with them.  This too was a tradition.  They'd carry the palm branches from the temple to the Mount of Olives. 


When the crowd saw Jesus they shouted "hosanna," which means, "save us now" or "grant salvation."   These words could be taken in one of two ways, or maybe even both.  "Save us now" could mean that the crowd believed Jesus to be the Messiah and they were asking Him to save Israel at this moment in time.  "Save us now" could also be taken as an exclamation, that is, these people believed Jesus to be the Messiah and they believed that He could save them.  No matter what way you look at it, these people believed and hoped that Jesus was the Messiah and this was their moment of salvation. These people would have been extremely excited, hoping that Jesus would save them from Roman domination because that was the type of salvation they understood the Messiah to bring them.


The specific Psalm they were quoting was from Psalm 118:25 and 26.  This Psalm is an affirmation of the Messiah and as applied to Jesus, suggests that they believed Jesus was the Messiah.     

The Pharisees on the other hand would become very agitated.  This could have been the largest crowd ever to follow Jesus.  If it wasnít it was sufficiently large enough to make the resolve of the Pharisees even stronger.  They would succeed in a few short days to finally arrest and kill Jesus.


Zechariah 9:9 prophesies that the king will enter Jerusalem on a donkey and that is what Jesus does.  He sits on a donkey that has never been ridden and enters Jerusalem.  We may think today that a donkey is not the animal of choice for a king to ride on, but that was not the case throughout Old Testament history.  Kings rode donkeys, especially white donkeys that no one else would have ridden but them.  This was in fact a kingly gesture on the part of Jesus.


Some people suggest that the donkey was more of a means of simple transportation while the horse was an animal used in war.  For the most part that is correct.  That being said, there are some exceptions to this.  I am reminded that when Jesus returns to earth, in the book of Revelation He is pictured ridding a horse, not a donkey.  This is probably due to the fact that He is returning as a warrior king to rule the world.     


Verse 16 tells us that the disciples did not understand what was happening.  They especially didnít understand that what was transpiring before their very eyes was prophesied centuries ago.  John does tell us that once Jesus was glorified they did understand. 


The obvious question at this point is, "When was Jesus glorified?"  If you read Jesus' prayer of unity in John 17 you will see that He relates His glorification to His oneness He had with His Father prior to His incarnation into humanity.  So, I believe Jesus was glorified when He returned to Heaven via the clouds.  We see this in Acts 1.  It wasn't until Jesus returned to Heaven that the disciples could receive the Holy Spirit into their lives.  We'll look at this further when we come to John 14 and beyond.  Once Jesus returned to Heaven and was glorified in God's presence the Holy Spirit could be given to the disciples.  It was at that moment when the disciples began to understand these things as John says here.      


I am sure this day, and the few days ahead were days of mass confusion and bewilderment for the disciples of Jesus.  From the high point of this exaltation to the low point of seeing Jesus on the cross must have been a very emotional trip for those disciples.


Verses 17 and 18 tell us that as Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem , many of those who saw the miracle of Lazarus went into town spreading the news of this miracle.  This was yet another reason why the crowd grew with every stop that Jesus took.  A dead man coming to life would spread around any city very fast.  The same would surely take place today.


This section ends in verse 19 with the Pharisees saying, "This is getting us nowhere.  See how the whole world is going after Him."  The Pharisees were at their wits end.  To date they had no success stopping the popularity of Jesus increasing, and now they felt that the whole world was following Him.  Obviously the whole entire world was not following Jesus, but for them, that is how it felt.  They were now being left in the dust so to speak.  They surely felt the urgency to kill Jesus.  If they couldnít do it now, it would be all over for them, so they determined that this would be it.  They would arrest Jesus and have Him executed immediately.


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