“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!” (Mark 11:9–10)


Palm Sunday is the day in the church year when traditionally we mark the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem for the last week of his life. As he rode into town, Jesus was not oblivious to what was about to happen to him. His enemies were going to get the upper hand, and he would be rejected and crucified. It was the palm branches that made this day unique, and then again, it wasn’t. For centuries, the church has memorialized today, the first day of Holy Week, as Palm Sunday because of the palm branches and cloaks that the people spread out before Jesus as he entered Jerusalem.


 

The Gospel writers tell us a crowd gathered.

The population of Jerusalem was bout 100k but because of Passover they would have had over a million people throughout the city. They lined the road in front of Jesus as he slowly rode into the city. As he made his way, a sort of carpet was being sewn together ahead of him. Fresh, green palm branches, presumably picked from nearby trees, and thick, worn clothing, likely from the backs of the crowd, formed a tapestry of endearment toward Israel’s long awaited Messiah. 


Jesus rides in declaring His Kingship

Why? What is he doing? Why does he want a ride into Jerusalem on a donkey? Matthew tells us why in verses 4-5, "This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 'Say to the daughter of Zion [that is, to Israel], "Behold your king is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden."'"


 This is a quote from the prophet Zechariah (9:9). Jesus has chosen to act out the fulfillment of this prophecy and to declare his kingship in the action of riding on a donkey. What does this mean? Jesus is declaring, "I am king."  The prophet said this is how it will happen. But, He is also saying, "I am gentle and lowly."

 

I am NOT on a white horse

I DON'T have a sword and a rod of iron.

I am NOT coming to slay you.

I'm coming to save you. This time. Today is the day of salvation.

 

That's the declaration. Jesus very intentionally acts out the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 and declares his humble, gentile, saving, Jewish and global kingship. And invites us to receive it.

Until he comes again, there is a day of amnesty and forgiveness and patience. Today, He still rides a donkey and not yet a white war-horse with a rod of iron. He is ready to save all who receive him as Savior and Treasure and King. Come to him. Know him. Receive him. Live your life in allegiance to him.

 

- Andrew Ledbetter