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Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
“Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
For hundreds of years, Israel had been waiting on their Messiah. They were waiting on the one who would overthrow Rome, restore the kingdom, and usher in a new era of glory in fulfillment of God’s promises. From the line of David, a king would come to reign on the throne forever.
In just a few years, this prophet Jesus had gained quite a reputation. His ministry angered the Pharisees, but attracted sinners. His teaching silenced the educated, but comforted the simple. His miracles caused those in power to fear him, but those in need to seek him at all cost.
Was this Jesus the prophesied one? Born in a manger to an unwed mother, could this rabbi from such a humble beginning be the one to take the throne, restore the kingdom, and inherit all the promises of God? The crowds certainly hoped so! As Jesus arrived in Jerusalem to observe Passover, the city was teeming with people. Thousands of visitors could have swelled the city to five or six times its usual population. And whether or not the crowds recognized Jesus’s arrival on a donkey as a fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy, they were convinced of at least one thing — this prophet Jesus was blessed, able to save, and worthy to be celebrated.
Did the crowds understand Jesus came to be the king of their hearts? Did they understand his kingdom was cosmic, his plan eternal, and his power supernatural? No. But they celebrated him! And even though we don’t understand everything about him, we celebrate. In our unanswered questions, we celebrate Jesus. With our hopes, we trust in what we do know of him, and we celebrate, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”