The story of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem is celebrated on Palm Sunday
It started when Jesus and his disciples, on the way to Jerusalem, stopped at the Mount of Olives. Two disciples were sent ahead to a village and told to bring back a donkey’s colt, which was tied up there. When they found the colt and untied it, someone, the owner perhaps, asked why they were taking it, and they gave the answer Jesus had supplied them with, ‘Because the Lord needs it. Presumably, they were then allowed to take the colt.
When they brought the colt to Jesus, they threw their cloaks on it for Jesus to use as a saddle. When Jesus continued the journey into Jerusalem on the colt, people started spreading their cloaks on the road before him and waving palms as if he were royalty.
Then the people started shouting words of praise, welcoming the new King. Some of the Pharisees saw this and told Jesus to keep the people quiet, to which Jesus replied; even if they were quiet, the stones would shout out.
The procession carried on towards Jerusalem, and when Jesus saw the city before him, he wept.
When Jesus arrived there, he went straight to the temple to drive out the money lenders; then, he began to teach. The chief priests and leaders were not happy about this and wanted to kill him, but they did not know how to, because the people hung on his every word.
Reflection on the meaning of Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday is all about the beginning of the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth. It is the first day of Holy Week, which then sees Jesus crucified on Good Friday and resurrected from the dead on Easter Sunday.
Psalm Sunday is a day to celebrate the triumphant arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem as he declared in many signs and symbols that he was the long-awaited Messiah. The young donkey symbolised the coming of the Messiah as predicted in Zechariah 9:9. But Jesus was triumphantly arriving as a humble King of peace, rather than a conquering King coming on a horse.
The people were so happy and cried out in joy with words from Psalm 118 at the sight of Jesus. But many were puzzled because they thought the Messiah would be someone who would save them from rule by the Romans, a conquering king, not someone riding on a humble colt.
The Pharisees were not happy with the strength of support for Jesus because they did not want the established order of things turned over, so they told Jesus to keep the people quiet. The reply that Jesus gave about the stones shouting out if the people stopped shouting meant that all creation would declare praise for him as the King of peace.
Jesus wept for Jerusalem because so many of his people there had not accepted him, and he knew that the city would be destroyed and many would be killed. This happened in AD70, 40 years after Jesus died, and more than a million people were slaughtered in one of the most gruesome sieges in recorded history.
At the temple, Jesus famously started turning over the money lenders’ tables and clearing them out; he then started teaching. These actions could be viewed as an expression of what the Pharisees feared most, a turning over of the established order and the beginning of something new.
Palm Sunday precedes a week of high drama, political intrigues, conspiracies, religious battles, final teachings, betrayals, denials, gruesome brutality, tears, shock, grief, and the final victory of Christ overcoming death.
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