This coming Sunday is commonly referred to as Palm Sunday, the day Christians commemorate Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem. He rode on the colt of a donkey, something associated with the kings in Jewish culture, and his followers spread their cloaks before him, waved palm branches, and shouted Hosanna!
Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting: “Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:9-10)
According to some the translation of hosanna is, save, I pray. The term is linked to Psalm 118:25 which says,
O LORD, do save, we beseech You;
O LORD, we beseech You, do send prosperity!
Most likely, in the eyes of Jesus’s followers and the Jews in Jerusalem suffering under Rome’s oppressive rule, Jesus was coming to the nation’s capital to establish His kingdom. They might well have been planning a coronation rather than a funeral.
Looking back through the lens of history, we know that Jesus did not take over the government of Judea. From a political standpoint he was hardly experiencing a triumphal entry, so why do Christians persist in calling it by that name? Why not, fated entry or doomed entry?
I don’t know what others think, but as far as I’m concerned, Triumphal Entry fits–not in the way those in the first century running ahead of him or coming along behind shouting Hosanna intended it, but in the way Jesus planned to fulfill His own purpose.
He had not left Heaven to come to Judea to establish a temporary earthly kingdom over that one small country. Rather, He had His sights set on the World.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Jesus entered Jerusalem, triumphant in the knowledge that the plan established before creation was nearly completed. He was on the last lap, coming down the home stretch with the cheers of the crowd echoing in His ears. No, they didn’t understand what His job was or what He yet had to face. They cheered from their ignorance for the hope of something temporal; He came to offer an imperishable, everlasting inheritance by triumphing over death and hell, over sin and guilt, even over the law.
So, yes, this step toward His crucifixion was His triumphal entry. His triumphal exit, when He broke free of the tomb, was still a few days away.
This post first appeared here in March 2013