Each year on this day religious men filled with zeal, yet not according to knowledge, carry statues of Jesus on a donkey through towns in parades with palm leaves reenacting the events of Matthew 21.
What is often called the triumphal entry of Jesus was hardly a pattern for us to repeat.
Here are a few things that are often overlooked that we can learn from Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem.
1. Religious rulers are moved by large crowds.
Though they were plotting for his death, and seeking to arrest him, the chief priests did not arrest Jesus due to the multitudes crying “Hosanna to the Son of David.” A few days later the crowd would be crying “crucify him”. The priests complied.
One reason the priests stumbled over the stumbling stone was that they were following the crowds and not their Messiah.
2. The majority often gets it wrong.
Remember when Jesus asked Peter, “who do they say I am?” (Matt 16:13) The “they” were the same people crying “Hosanna” in Matthew 21. Peter’s answer was that they believe him to be “one of the prophets” (Matt 16:14). They were wrong. Peter knew better. Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matt 16:15). The multitudes in Jerusalem when asked the crucial question of Jesus ministry, responded in error:
“Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” – Matthew 21:10-11
He was more than a prophet; He was the Christ.
3. Jesus was the Messiah that nobody knew.
The multitudes did not know what they were saying, but this did not stop prophecy from being fulfilled. The way Jesus enters into Jerusalem fulfils Zech 9:9, Palm 8:4, and Psalm 118:24-26 confirming he is the Christ from the scriptures. The disciples only put the pieces together after Jesus’ ascension (John 12:16). Other than Jesus, the only people that seemed to appreciate the import on that day were the scribes and Pharisees who were shocked at what the uneducated masses were saying.
“Hearest thou what these say?” – Matthew 21:16
“Master, rebuke thy disciples.” – Luke 19:39
4. The kingdom did not come.
Some may think that since Jesus had a King’s reception that day, that it was an indication of his kingdom having come, but they would be wrong.
Though the throng sang praises when Jesus entered that day, any triumph was short lived. Jesus was a King without a kingdom.
After the palm leaves and Hosanna’s, Jesus wept over the city because it did not know him as Christ (Luke 19:41-44). A few days later, their refusal of him would be manifest in his crucifixion, and subsequently in their rejection of his disciples (Acts 7:57).
5. No one knew the gospel of grace.
While a few of his disciples knew and believed he was Christ, they did not know why he kept telling them he had to die and rise again. Jesus had told them he was going into Jerusalem to die, but they were ignorant about what it meant (Luke 18:34).
No one throughout the entire so-called “Holy Week” two thousand years ago knew the preaching of the cross as the power of God unto salvation. No one knew God’s mystery purpose to place Christ as the Head of a new creature (not Israel), which would consist of neither Jew nor Gentile.
In the same fashion today, Christian religions repeat the ignorance of two thousand years ago. Their leaders follow the tradition and the crowds. The majority misses the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery. They will praise Christ as King, but fail the same way as Jerusalem did as they teach Christ’s kingdom has come when it has not. They will be disappointed. They crucify anyone who tries to tell the truth that we are not now living in the kingdom for which the multitudes waved palm branches.
What we should learn was kept secret on that day (Rom 16:25; 1 Cor 4:1-2).
We Should Know Better
There will be a day where Christ will return victoriously and with his kingdom over the earth. Palm Sunday ought not be repeated until Christ returns to Israel fulfilling their feast of tabernacles.
Until that day come, we should learn not to repeat the errors of the past by discerning the times today.
Religious “holy week” ends with the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, but the ministry of the church begins with the revelation of the gospel of the grace of God not revealed until after that week.
This week religions will repeat the events of Jesus’ earthly ministry and mourn his death as the biggest mistake humanity ever made, in the same ignorance as the disciples as to why he had to suffer and die.
Meanwhile, the stewards of the mysteries of Christ should continue preaching the glory of the cross of Christ as the best news the world has ever received.