A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
In January I started reading through the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) chronologically, a reading plan I dubbed the Gospel Project. And today’s reading was Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey at the beginning of the Passover week just days before He was to be crucified. Meaning the next three weeks between now and Good Friday will be spent reading about the last week of Christ’s life, His death, and His resurrection.
It’s a bittersweet milestone. I know how the story ends, so there’s hope. This is not a tragedy by any means. Yet I can’t help but to be heartbroken because of what Jesus would endure over the next several days. When He entered the city gates on the back of a donkey colt, the crowds praised Him, recognizing the Old Testament prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. But these same people would quickly turn on Him and call for His crucifixion. Judas would betray Him. Peter would deny Him. And after His death, His disciples would question their faith.
Jesus knew all of this would happen, of course. He had known all His life. And He had tried to explain to His disciples on at least three different occasions that He would have to die. But even after following Him for three years, witnessing miracle after miracle, even seeing Him transfigured on the mountain, they didn’t understand. They still clung on to the belief that this Jesus of Nazareth, the one who called Himself the Son of God and the Son of Man, would be an earthly messiah, someone who would overthrow the Roman Empire and free the Jews.
After entering Jerusalem, Jesus said:
“Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels — a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.
“Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came!”
It’s a bittersweet moment. Christ’s impending death is unavoidable. In a matter of days, He will be arrested, flogged, humiliated, and then nailed to a Roman cross to die. If the story ends there, it really is a tragedy. But it doesn’t. His resurrection three days later will bring victory and hope and life.
And this was the plan all along.
The Gospel Project: Reconciling the birth of Christ
The Gospel Project
There He goes, a hero, a Savior to the world
It was all because of love
‘His purpose in life was to go straight to the cross’