To anyone there that Sunday it looked like a triumphal entry. People lined the street and there was an excitement in the air. A group of people and a man sitting on a donkey were coming down the street. As he approached the crowd went crazy yelling, “Hosanna!” and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” The people were welcoming a Messiah. Jesus received the praise of the people. After all, Jesus was the Messiah, but he knew that it wasn’t a triumphal entry. He knew what lay ahead.
Three times Jesus had predicted that he would be arrested, tortured and executed. Jesus knew that he had offended and angered the religious authorities. Faced with the cross Jesus could have decided to make peace with the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees. Even after his entry into Jerusalem Jesus could have gone to the authorities, told them that he would leave quietly after he observed the Passover with his disciples, and retreat to Galilee. Jesus didn’t do that, though. The gospels take great pains to make sure that the readers understand that Jesus was not tricked or forced to the cross. Jesus chose the cross.
At one point in his ministry Jesus said, “What greater love is there than a man should lay down his life for another” (John 15:13). Indeed, what greater love is there? While we read and ponder the events of Jesus’ last week we are confronted by God’s great love. Jesus chose the cross because of his great love for all the people of the world—in every time and place.
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Then 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.