“Hosana! Hosana! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! people cried out to Jesus riding the donkey as they jubilantly waved palm fronds.
Who is this person called Jesus of Nazareth?
Jesus, riding on the back of this animal, had an unusual look on his face as he rode into town. Although He smiled, He had an air of determination that reflected Nothing will stop me from carrying out my mission.
Who is he?
Some say he was the illegitimate son of Mary and a Roman soldier. Some say he was the son of Mary and Joseph, born out of wedlock but became an occult master – a person in whom cosmic spirits chose to dwell. Yet others say he was a good man of high character, a prophet and a rabbi.
Under any of the above circumstances, he would have been a liar, an impostor, deceived, insane, or demon possessed, because Jesus claimed to be God.
In a few days, churches will have mini-theaters where children walk down the aisle waving palm branches (fronds) sweetly saying Hosanna to God in the highest, and pastors preach that Jesus ascends to Jerusalem on the ‘donkey. And why not? It will be Palm Sunday.
But who is he?
Jesus was the greatest dichotomy of all time: He is both God and man.
He was the greatest contradiction of all time: he is the creator of all that exists, but he entered humanity through the humble and natural birth of a human baby (John 1:1-4, 14) .
He was the greatest controversy of all time: As the highest authority in the universe, He will judge our sin. Yet he received judgment for us as criminals, freeing us from the penalty of sin if we confess, repent, and live for him.
Do we understand what happened on that historic day? The day we call it Palm Sunday?
First of all, Hosanna! was not a form of eulogy, but a political cry that conveyed the idea of Save us from our enemies!
Second, the palm leaf was not a symbol of peace, but was the political symbol of a free national Israel. This was equivalent to waving the flag of the nation.
Third, the statement “Blessed is he (or ‘the King’) who comes in the name of the Lord” referred to the people’s hope for their long-awaited Messiah – a military messiah or prophet – who would send the retreating Romans back to Rome.
Fourth, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey was symbolic of a king proclaiming victory and arriving to take the throne.
And fifth, the unrest looked like another rebellion or uprising, and the Pharisees wanted the people to be quiet so the Romans wouldn’t come and kill them.
The people did not understand the prophecy of Zechariah 9:10-11 which says, “Rejoice abundantly, daughter of Zion! Cry aloud, daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; triumphant and victorious, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt, the colt of an ass. I will cut off the chariot of Ephraim and the war-horse of Jerusalem, and the bow of battle shall be cut down, and he shall establish peace among the nations , his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. You also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, will I deliver your captives from the waterless pit.
Although people knew the prophecy, they missed its meaning. The three concepts are: the Messiah would come in peace, not in war; He would be king over the whole world, not just over Israel; and He would free people from bondage to sin and death, not from a political enemy.
Jesus did not come to conquer Rome, but to conquer sin and death. However, He could only do this by dying for us.
When Jesus asked his friends what people thought of him, Matthew 16:18 tells us, “Some say you are John the Baptist, some Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the prophets. asked who they thought He was. Peter said, impetuously but sincerely: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Jesus agreed, affirming that He, Jesus, was and is God.
Palm Sunday. Jesus rode to town as a royal monarch arriving to establish his kingdom. But as he told Pilate a few days later, his kingdom was not of this world.
We will continue next week.
— S. Eugene Linzey is an author, mentor and speaker. Send your comments and questions to [email protected] Visit his website at www.genelinzey.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.