Today throughout Christendom the faithful are celebrating Psalm Sunday. To us it seems overly simple, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a little donkey. Let’s explore that moment. This is shared in order that those not identified with the faith might understand what it is believers are celebrating and why. Additionally, it is hoped it will reinforce the faith of believers.
First, it should be noted Jesus was right on time. The prophet Daniel foretold when this would occur as noted in Daniel 9: 24 — 26. By calculating the time he notes Messiah would come to Jerusalem in 173,880 days from his prophecy. The date of Daniel’s prophecy is known. Passover always occurred in mid-April. Jesus went to Bethany six days before Passover (John 12: 12). He entered Jerusalem the next day, April 6, 32 A.D. That was precisely 173,880 days from the date of Daniel’s prophecy.
There was a large crowd in Jerusalem. A census made revealed that 25,000 lambs were slain on this occasion. According to custom, a minimum of 10 persons were required to eat each lamb. That means there were over 2,500,000 people in the city.
Jesus had spent the night with friends in Bethany on the back side of the Mount of Olives. To get to Jerusalem from there He would have to cross the end of the southern ridge of the Mount. When Jews came to Jerusalem to celebrate festivals various groups always camped in the same place. Those from Galilee always camped on the southern ridge of the mount where Jesus was to pass. Jesus had done most of His ministery in Galilee. Therefore, these people knew Him.
“A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.” (Matthew 21:8) In strewing their cloaks on the road, the people were giving Jesus the royal treatment. King Jehu was given similar honor at his coronation. (2 Kings 9:13)
“They took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (John 12: 13)
These were agrarian people, shepherds and fishermen. They hated the Romans and wanted them overthrown. Jesus was their champion, their hope.
Skeptics assume they have found a contradiction in Scripture. One gospel writer says He rode a donkey, and another the foal of a donkey. There is no contradiction. He rode both, He rode the donkey most of the way because it would have been too great a burden for the colt to have carried Him the full distance. As He entered Jerusalem. He changed and rode the colt.
In Jerusalem were the religious leaders and merchants. They placated the Romans because they were good from business. This crowd wanted to appease them. To help do so it was they who later shouted “Crucify Him” as He entered the city.
It was not the same people shouting both as is assumed by many.
The question this poses is with which crowd do we identify.
For the faith community the central message of Easter is that God still loves us, and because of Christ we can be forgiven. He came for one reason: “Christ died for sins once for all … to bring you to God.” (1 Peter 3:18) May you celebrate Him into your life during this holy season.