Today is Palm Sunday, when we celebrate our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem. His arrival and procession into the city of David was foretold by the Prophet Zechariah long before his birth:
9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on an ass,
on a colt the foal of an ass.
10 I will cut off the chariot from E′phraim
and the war horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
and he shall command peace to the nations;
his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
Here is the account from the Gospel of Mark:
And when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Beth′phage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, 2 and said to them, “Go into the village opposite 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 any one 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 the door out in the open street; and they untied it. 5 And those who stood 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 garments on it; and he sat upon it. 8 And many spread their garments on the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went before and those who followed cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!”
11 And he entered Jerusalem, and went into the temple; and when he had looked round at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
Reading this, it is amazing to think that only a few days later many of these people would have been among the crowd jeering at Jesus as he made his way to Golgotha. Yet such is the fickle nature of the human heart.
But that isn’t the real lesson to be learned here. Rather, what we should draw from this episode of the New Testament is that how we, as human beings, expect God to act doesn’t matter. It is immaterial. God is in no way bound to act however we want. He has His own purposes, His own plans. At the time of Jesus the Jews in the Roman province of Palestine were awaiting a Messiah, the Lord’s anointed one. They were expecting a king in the likes of David- someone who would drive the oppressive Romans and other foreigners out and restore Israel to its former glory. What they didn’t, couldn’t understand is that it was their own sin that was oppressing them. Like their ancestors in the days of yore, they had lost touch with the true faith. They professed to follow God but turned their backs on His ways. They followed the Letter of the Law, but not the Spirit. The Jews expected a savior who would set them free from their captivity. And this was true. But it was sin, not Rome, that was holding them captive. They couldn’t grasp that the Messiah was sent to ransom them from the captivity, and that He would pay the price for their lives:
Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,
and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him;
he has put him to grief;
when he makes himself an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand;
11 he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous;
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out his soul to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.