Triumphal Entry - Mark 11:1-11

On this, the Sunday before Easter, we celebrate Palm Sunday. To help us fully understand what this Sunday is about we need to look at a verse from the Old Testament.

“Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! Look! Your king is coming to you: he is righteous and with salvation, humble and riding on a donkey– on a young donkey, the foal of a female donkey.” Zechariah 9:9

Long before Jesus came to earth God revealed things about His coming and His life to those who were anxiously awaiting the Messiah. In Zechariah, Israel (i.e., “daughter of Zion/Jerusalem”) is told to rejoice because her king is coming. This coming king is described as righteous, one bringing salvation/deliverance, and humble. These characteristics are what one wants in a king! The part about riding on a donkey can be a bit confusing. After all, no one today brags about riding on a donkey! This is where we need to learn about the culture of the ancient Near East. Kings rode horses into war; but if they came in peace they rode a donkey (Judges 5:10; 1 Kings 1:33). In Mark 11:1-11 Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. Jesus entered Jerusalem as the promised messiah/king who came bringing salvation and peace.

As Jesus entered Jerusalem many people laid out their cloaks for Jesus’ donkey to walk on (v. 8). No, this is not the same thing as a gentleman laying his coat over a mud puddle for a lady to walk over. In that culture, the act of laying your garments out for someone to walk/ride over (or palm branches if you don’t have an outer cloak to spare) was a symbol of paying homage to royalty (2 Kings 9:12-13). Some people knew enough about Jesus to know that He was coming in fulfillment of prophecy (Matthew 21:9).

Their cries of “Hosanna!” were further acknowledgment that Jesus was the Messiah (vs. 9-10). “Hosanna” comes from a Hebrew word that means “Save us, please!” These people were crying out for salvation. This truly was a triumphal entry! The Messiah, who had been promised for centuries, had finally come into Jerusalem as King, and was acknowledged as Messiah.

Thoughts to Ponder
Imagine yourself standing on that road; surrounded by people paying homage and begging for salvation as Jesus rode by on the donkey. What a glorious day! While we were not there to witness this triumphal entry, there will be a second coming (even more glorious than this one) which we will be able to participate in.

Today we celebrate this triumph. But prepare yourself, this triumph did not last. A short time later the pain of suffering begins. The one worshipped on this day soon ended up dead, hanging on a tree. Tomorrow we begin to walk with Jesus through His final hours.