This Sunday is Palm Sunday and Christians celebrate the Triumphal Entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, a week before his death and resurrection. For many churches, Palm Sunday is referred to as “Passion Sunday,” which marks the beginning of the Holy Week that concludes on Easter Sunday. The biblical account of Palm Sunday was recorded in Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, and John 12:12-19.
Why was this last journey of Jesus to Jerusalem known as the Triumphal Entry? Jesus knew in advance Jerusalem was the final journey of his earthly life and he knew full well the kind of suffering and death he would have to undergo for the salvation of the world.
A journey of suffering: He told his disciples that he would be betrayed into the hands of the chief priest and teachers of the law. They would condemn him to death and would hand him over to the Romans who would mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him (Mark 10:32-34). Jesus had this detail picture in his mind concerning his suffering yet the Bible tells us that “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). It takes surmountable courage to take a journey that leads to one’s death in full cognizance!
The journey to Jerusalem was not a sudden decision of Jesus taken on the moment. It was something which he had prepared in advance. Apart from telling his disciples the detail of his suffering he sent them into the village to collect the donkey and her colt and the phrase, “The Lord needs them” was a password by which the owner would know that the hour which Jesus had arranged had come (Matt 21:2).
A journey of humility: On that road to Jerusalem Jesus was traveling towards his death, burial and glorious resurrection. And while the road led Jesus to Jerusalem, the Jerusalem road will lead us to heaven. If we are willing to follow Jesus we must be willing to travel the road that Jesus traveled, that road to Jerusalem. He chose the road of humility, riding into town on the back of the colt of a donkey. And it wasn’t even his donkey but a borrowed one.
A journey of service and servanthood: Jesus was the king coming to Jerusalem as the Messiah, the Anointed One of God. When Jesus spoke of his kingdom he spoke in terms of it being one of service, servanthood, and one of humility. He showed that he came, not to destroy, but to love; not to condemn, but to help; not in the might of arms, but in the strength of love. He would conquer not the enemies’ land but their hearts.
To follow Jesus means going down that road, the road of the cross. It means giving up our selfish desires, it means denying ourselves, it means putting not only God first in our lives, but putting others first as well; our family, our friends and even our enemies.
It was a Triumphal Entry because Jesus completed the journey and became our savior