Imagine if you can… Jesus is riding down the steep grade from atop the Mount of Olives, across the Kidron Valley, and into the city of Jerusalem. It’s a beautiful spring day with a canopy of blue sky. The olive trees are budding, and the birds are singing.
A conquering king would have been seated high on a great white charger decorated with royal banners, but Jesus is riding on a lowly donkey, draped with a disciple’s badly worn coat (Mark 11:7). It was a miracle… not a rodeo. The young donkey that Jesus sits upon is one “on which no one has ever sat” (Mark 11:2). If Peter had attempted to ride the little beast, he would have ended up with his face in the dirt. Jesus rides slowly, deliberately, humbly.
Jesus, the King of every kingdom, approaches Jerusalem, perfectly fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy. “Look, your King is coming to you; he is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). Focused on Calvary’s Cross, Jesus rides toward the City of David, looking more like a peasant pilgrim than the Commander of the Lord’s vast and powerful armies.
Look at the throngs of cheering people! The inhabitants of Jerusalem, crowded beyond capacity during the Passover celebration, gather along the highway as Jesus arrives. The buzz of conversations in the marketplace had been concerning His great miracles! “The crowd, which had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead, continued to testify”(John 12:17). Excitedly, someone in the crowd spoke; “I was in the cemetery with Mary and Martha. Lazarus had been stone-cold-dead for four days! When Jesus spoke to the corpse, he sat straight up, alive! And when his friends cut away the grave clothes, he walked right into the arms of Jesus! Amazing! Nobody has ever seen anything like it!”
Akin to a ticker-tape parade in Manhattan, the crowds cheer and shout! Some folks take their coats off and lay them in the streets like a red carpet (Mark 11:8). Others cut palm branches (John 12:13) and lay them in His path. These raucous worshippers seem to understand that their rescuer has arrived. Most expect Jesus to overthrow the Roman government’s merciless grip. Many anticipate more of His miracles. Few, if any, anticipate the sacrifice of God’s Perfect Passover Lamb.
Some in the crowd sneer and seethe in jealous anger. “Rebuke your disciples” (Luke 19:39), the religious leaders demand! To this Jesus responds, “I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stones would cry out” (Luke 19:40).
Now, tune your ear to the crowd’s resounding and repeated chants. “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 heaven!” (Mark 11:9-10). They are begging … “Save us now! Save us now! Hosanna! Hosanna!”
I can almost imagine the Lord’s triumphal entry. Can you?
But, sadly, I can’t imagine … just a few days later, the crowds changed their tune to … “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” (Mark 15:13) and “He saved others, but he cannot save himself!” (Mark 15:31).