This week we looked at a familiar event, the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem from Mark 11. One of the things asked in this sermon is, where did the palm branches come from?
1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. 5 And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 7 And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8 And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
11 And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
It would appear that the incidents relating to Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus occurred at Jericho on a Thursday. Perhaps Jesus stayed that night at the home of his new convert Zacchaeus. He had said he would.
Luke 19:5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him,“Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”
On the Friday he went on to Bethany arriving during the afternoon (see John 11:55ff). This was on the Jewish Sabbath (what we call Saturday). He probably rested before entering Jerusalem the next day riding upon an ass in fulfilment of a prophecy. He entered Jerusalem on what would become “the Lord’s Day” or resurrection day. All four gospel writers tell us of this event. Luke records that Jesus wept over the city and predicted its ruin and Matthew tells us that he healed many people which was Jesus reply to the opposition of the priests and scribes. The details of this triumphal entry are recorded explicitly, so Mark must have believed these were important details to include.
Jesus and his disciples in the morning, approach Jerusalem from the direction of Bethany meaning house of dates and Bethphage meaning the house of unripe figs, travelling towards the mount of the olive trees. Much of the record is occupied with preparation to enter the city. Verse four leads us to believe that this account is that of an eyewitness. Perhaps one of the ones Jesus sent to fetch the ass was Peter who would later tell Mark.
1 The God who knows
The foreknowledge of God.
One question raised is how Jesus could know beforehand the details of what would take place concerning the colt being ready to take. Some have suggested that Jesus had arranged this on an earlier occasion. But following the timeline leading up to this event it is difficult to know when Jesus could possibly have fitted that in. A simple explanation, and one which is obviously acceptable to Believers, is that Jesus simply knew before hand what would take place.
2 The God who has decided
The will of God.
Verse 8: And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.
“Leafy” branches?! Only John tells us that they were palm branches (John 12:13). Why is this detail important? Because they were not native to that location! They must have been brought from Jericho, cut from the fields, by those travelling with Jesus. I wonder how many of the first readers of this gospel would have known that little known fact that palm was not native to the city, and what they would have understood from that.
I conclude then that this was unlikely to have been a spontaneous act, but rather a deliberate, pre-planned event. Waving the palm branches was not a coincidental similarity with the old prophecy in Zechariah but was a public declaration of the claims of the Messiah and of his supporters.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
See also Psalm 118:19-26
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvellous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save us, we pray, O Lord!
O Lord, we pray, give us success!
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
By entering Jerusalem as he did, Jesus was declaring himself as the long awaited Messiah, not only to his followers but also to the religious leaders of the Jews. He was provoking them to action against him. We see here that Jesus was never the victim of circumstances but was always in control of the events.
3 The God who rules
Jesus appears to have avoided publicity or personal promotion in his ministry leading up to this point. However he now entered the Holy City in a most spectacular way, and he was surrounded by many who were recognising the significance of this method of entry.
Jesus had recently told his disciples of his approaching death yet now he accepts homage that is due to a king. He was giving his nation the opportunity of doing what he knew only too well they would never do.
Graham Scroggie it his book on Mark says that the proclamation and the coronation of a king never take place at the same time. He says this is Christ’s proclamation. His first Coronation came later on in the same week as he was the conqueror over death, his second coronation is going on all the time in our hearts, and his third coronation will be when he comes again to establish his Kingdom.
This king has many subject, but not all are true to him. I have to continually ask myself if I am true to my Lord.
Hosanna is a Prayer which means “save now I beg you”, and the whole greeting of these people is taken from the Book of Psalms. For the full text of what the crowd cried we have to bring the four Gospels together. Then we will see that the gospels present us with the claim that Jesus as a long promised messiah, the Christ of God, and the King of Israel.
See where this triumphal entry of the King ends. It is not in the palace, but in the temple (see verse 11). And this is because his Kingdom is not a temporal earthly Kingdom, but is a spiritual one, an eternal one.
See what he did when he arrived in the temple, he looked around. This is what he is doing all the time looking around. I find myself wondering how I measure up to his gaze.