Reflection on the Gospel of Matthew 21:1-11. Palm Sunday: April 2, 2023

The Gospel of Matthew 21:1-11

When Jesus and his disciples had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead 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, just say this, `The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,

“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Let us Pray:  Thank you for sending your Son and paving the way for our lives to be able to follow the path of Jesus. This Holy Week begins the start of the journey towards the cross, the victory of the Resurrection, and the rich truth that Jesus truly is our King of Kings. This we pray in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen! 

“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord…” 

Do you think someone today would let you borrow a donkey on your word that you would return it later? They really didn’t have a lot of choice as they were told it is for our Lord. On that day people were excited to see Jesus as He was coming into Jerusalem. They realize that He is not a regular man. There is something special about Him. Jesus makes this entry into Jerusalem, and it is a triumphal entry! It is an entry of celebration and praise!  We see that the crowds ask who this man is. Some proclaim Him as a prophet, which He was. However, by pointing us to the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, Matthew is making sure that we understand that Jesus is so much more than a prophet. He is so much more than a good teacher. He is so much more than a healer. He is so much more than a righteous man. Jesus is King! Jesus is Messiah! Jesus is Lord! Jesus is Savior! `               The prophecy said, “Daughter Zion,” which referred to the city of Jerusalem. The prophecy said that Jerusalem’s king is coming on a donkey’s foal. However, Jesus is not only the king of Jerusalem, but He is also the King of the Universe! So, the Messiah is coming in gentleness and peace. He is not coming to wage battle, but to lay down His life. He is coming to fulfill that which was prepared for Him before He ever uttered His first cry as a baby boy. Jesus is fulfilling prophecy.

As Jesus entered on the Foal of the Donkey the crowds shouted:

“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Hosanna is often thought of as a declaration of praise, like hallelujah, but it is actually a plea for salvation. So, as Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem, the crowds were perfectly right to shout “Hosanna!” They were acknowledging Jesus as their Messiah. Theirs was a cry for salvation and a recognition that Jesus was able to save. But Jesus was not the king they expected, but he was the king they needed. Also, you might wonder why Jesus was riding on a donkey, and not a majestic horse. Well, it was very common for kings and their families to ride donkeys rather than horses.

In fact, typically in ancient Israel riding on a horse represented riding into war, while riding on a donkey represented a peaceful time. Jesus rode into Jerusalem as the Prince of Peace. Remember, Jesus first came as Suffering Servant Messiah, not Conquering King Messiah. The crowds lining the route of the procession were filled with enthusiasm. They were not there just because they loved a good parade. They were there because they wanted to believe. They had hope. Hope, Hope springs eternal in the human breast. Where there’s life, there’s hope.” And they had it. Jesus was the King who had come to change them. And today as we let Him to enter our lives, we realize He is the King who can change us and give us Hope. But hope is apparently a fragile commodity. We know the story. By the end of the week, the crowds will have disappeared and what remained were a few faithful friends gathered on a hill outside Jerusalem called Calvary. What in the world happened? It is like the dry palms from Palm Sunday we make the ashes for Ash Wednesday from as we are reminded of the events of Holy Week, and of how the victory of Jesus over sin was won for us on Good Friday. When the match is put to the dry palms, they flare up quickly, and just as quickly die into ash. For a moment they are light and heat and power, and in the next moment they are changed into lifeless ash. The power and light dim as quickly as did the shouts of the crowds as Jesus entered Jerusalem, the shouts that changed so quickly from “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” to “Crucify him!” The lifeless ashes remind us how much of our own discipleship may amount to the same thing, a flash in the pan, a parade on a spring day, but nothing permanent, and nothing lasting. The ashes remind us that Christ went on ahead of us – and still goes on ahead of us. They summon us to follow him and to pray with him in the Garden of Gethsemane, to stick with him when he is arrested, and to claim him when we are asked with Peter, “Are you not a follower of that Man Jesus?” How do you answer this?

Let us Pray: In the darker moments, when clouds gather and the heaviness, we feel seems overwhelming, remind us of your love, carrying the weight of so much on that cross, embracing the world with arms outstretched that we might know freedom from the chains which now constrain us. This we pray in your name, Jesus our Savior. Amen.

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