Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. Zechariah 9:9
On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt. John 12:12-15
Accordingly, when, after resting over the Sabbath in Bethany, He came forth on the Sunday morning to proceed to the city, He found the streets of the village and the neighbouring roads thronged with a vast crowd, consisting partly of those who had accompanied Him on the Friday, partly of other companies who had come up behind Him from Jericho and heard of the miracles as they came along, and partly of those who, having heard that He was at hand, had flocked out from Jerusalem to see Him. They welcomed Him with enthusiasm, and began to shout, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’ It was a Messianic demonstration such as He had formerly avoided. But now He yielded to it.
…the hour had come when no considerations could permit Him any longer to conceal from the nation the character in which He presented Himself and the claim He made on its faith. But, in yielding to the desires of the multitude that He should assume the style of a king, He made it unmistakable in what sense He accepted the honour. He sent for an ass-colt and, His disciples having spread their garments on it, rode at the head of the crowd. Not armed to the teeth or bestriding a war-horse did He come, but as the King of simplicity and peace.
The procession swept over the brow of Olivet and down the mountainside; it crossed the Kedron and, mounting the slope which led to the gate of the city, passed on through the streets to the temple. It swelled as it went, great numbers hurrying from every quarter to join it; the shouts rang louder and more loud; the processionists broke off twigs from the palms and olives, as they passed, and waved them in triumph. The citizens of Jerusalem ran to their doors and bent over their balconies to look, and asked, ‘Who is this?’ to which the processionists replied with provincial pride, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth.” (The Life of Jesus Christ by James Stalker)
What is the significance of the triumphal entry?
The triumphal entry is that of Jesus coming into Jerusalem on what we know as Palm Sunday, the Sunday before the crucifixion (John 12:1, 12). The story of the triumphal entry is one of the few incidents in the life of Jesus which appears in all four Gospel accounts (Matthew 21:1-17; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19). Putting the four accounts together, it becomes clear that the triumphal entry was a significant event, not only to the people of Jesus’ day, but to Christians throughout history. We celebrate Palm Sunday to remember that momentous occasion.
Jesus rides in as a conquering King and is hailed by the people as such, in the manner of the day. The streets of Jerusalem, the royal city, are open to Him, and like a king, He ascends to His palace, not a temporal palace, but the spiritual palace which is the temple, because His is a spiritual kingdom. He receives the worship and praise of the people because only He deserves it. No longer does He tell His disciples to be quiet about Him (Matthew 12:16, 16:20), but to shout His praises and worship Him openly. The spreading of cloaks was an act of homage for royalty (see 2 Kings 9:13). Jesus was openly declaring to the people that He was their King and the Messiah they had been waiting for.
Unfortunately, the praise the people lavished on Jesus was not because they recognized Him as their Messiah. They welcomed Him out of their desire for a deliverer, someone who would lead them in a revolt against Rome. There were many who, though they did not believe in Christ with a spiritual faith, nevertheless hoped that perhaps He might be to them a great temporal deliverer. These are the ones who hailed Him as King with their many Hosannas, recognizing Him as the Son of David who came in the name of the Lord.
But when He failed in their expectations, when He refused to lead them in a massive revolt against the Roman occupiers and those who collaborated with them, the crowds quickly turned on Him. Within just a few days, their Hosannas would change to cries of “Crucify Him!” (Luke 23:20-21). Those who hailed Him as a hero would soon reject and abandon Him.
The story of the triumphal entry is one of contrasts and those contrasts are the application to believers. It is the story of the King who came as a lowly servant on a donkey, not a prancing steed, not in royal robes, but on the clothes of the poor and humble. Jesus Christ comes not to conquer by force as earthly kings, but by love, grace, mercy, and His own sacrifice for His people. His is not a kingdom of armies and splendor, but of lowliness and servanthood.
He conquers not nations, but hearts and minds. His message is one of peace with God, not of temporal peace. (What is the significance of the triumphal entry?)