The Triumphal Entry
11 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.
This is a bit of a strange story, when you think about it. Jesus knew in advance that there would be a colt available, where it would be, what the disciples would be asked and how they ought to answer. And it happened EXACTLY as he told them. Which shouldn't really be surprising by now, as he is near the end of his ministry, so the disciples have been with him a while and have seen and heard things stranger than this, without a doubt.
What makes me see it as strange today is how incongruous the procession is with how Jesus lived and how he would be killed. He lived very simply. He was homeless, for all intents and purposes, he didn't have a job, or a wife or children, he didn't have savings accounts, stocks or bonds, or really have any worldly possessions, at least none worth mentioning. Everything he had was provided for him on an as needed basis by God through the people who believed in him and supported his ministry. He lived simply, among the common people, generally despised by anyone with any authority, particularly the Jewish religious leaders. This event is about a week prior to his crucifixion.
Yet here he is being heralded and paraded like a king. He is King, to be sure, but up until now he avoided any attempts by the people to be set up as an earthly authority figure. So I wondered, why now? MacArthur had an answer for me:
There really is no question about Christ, that He is the Messiah, that He is the promised King, that He is the Son of David, that He is the one with a right to reign. His lineage checks out, His mother and father both in the line of David. He has all the qualifications. He is the Son of Man. He is the Son of God. He has demonstrated His deity and His full humanity throughout His ministry. He is the true King, but this is a false coronation.
That’s why it’s such a strange event. It is not a true expression of faith. It is not a true expression of praise. It is not a true expression of a claim. And it certainly isn’t God’s coronation anymore than it is a true human coronation. What did happen on this day was an odd, bizarre event, not like any other coronation of any king.
Now up to this point, Jesus had never allowed such an occasion as this. He had never allowed an open, public demonstration declaring Him to be the Messiah. In Galilee on one occasion when there were some people who wanted to press Him in to sort of taking authority and acting like a King, He fled the scene because He knew the implications. And the implications were not positive. It was not the way that He would want to establish His purpose, not by taking authority, wielding power and establishing the Kingdom. That would come and it will come when He returns. This time He came to die.
Any kind of massive demonstration that made them think His popularity was expanding would then be a threat to the leaders and would only hurry up their act of murder against Him. So He never let it happen. But here He lets it happen. Here the real planner by divine providence is God because this is the week He must die and therefore, their desire to kill Him must be escalated to its fever pitch. They weren’t really prepared to execute Him on the Passover. In fact, the New Testament tells us they didn’t want to arrest Him and execute Him on the Passover because they were afraid of the people. But they didn’t have a choice. They were so fearful of His escalating power that they sped up their murderous intent, which is exactly the way God wanted it so that on Friday on the Passover, He would be the Passover Lamb.
This is a false coronation for a purpose that none of them would ever have understood. It is strangely designed by God, not as a legitimate exaltation but to inflame His enemies at exactly the precise time to get things moving so there would be time for a trial and an execution at exactly the right day. He wanted this display with the greatest possible mass of people, the largest crowd possible so that His enemies would be severely threatened and would execute Him on the divine schedule.