Picture this with me: The city would be packed with people; pilgrims from all over the area are descending upon Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Feast. They started arriving the Friday before with anticipation of the weeklong festivities to begin on Sunday.
Suddenly an odd little parade started to form outside Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives and the people can be heard chanting a familiar prayer:
Matthew 21:9-10 (NLT)
“Praise God for the Son of David!
Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Praise God in highest heaven!”
10 The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked.
Now when we stop here, we pause to look the original reference of why they were saying these words. These words are the words from Psalm 118:26, but Matthew is actually a little incomplete here because they would have been singing the words of verse 25 as well. When we read it all together it reads:
Psalm 118:25-26 (NIV) 25 O LORD, HOSANNAH, which means, save us; O LORD, grant us success. 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.
Zealots Create a Buzz
This is known as the Sukkot prayer, or the Hosanna, and it was a Zealots war cry. A Zealot was someone who had great Zeal for being a Revolutionary. These were the people who were seeking freedom from the oppression of the Romans… at any cost. They were sword happy crazy men who would do anything for political freedom. Peter (the other Peter) was a Zealot!
Haven’t you ever wondered why there were so many people at the parade and how they got there? Maybe you’re like me and thought, how did they know to bring palm braches, and why Palm Branches?
Well, many believe it was the Zealots who were trying to create a buzz in the city. They were supporting this Revolutionary Rabbi and his call for freedom. And the palm branch was the historic symbol for the Jews to proclaim freedom. It dated all the way back to the Maccabean revolt for freedom.
The Zealots knew the Romans, as well as the Pharisees and Sadducees, would hate a person who claimed to be the Messiah, especially during the Passover feast. So they went out and created a buzz…
- Did you hear he raised a man from the dead?
- I heard just a touch from Him can heal someone!
- He restored site to two men on the Jericho Road!
In fact, we know those two men where with Jesus as he entered into the city. Matthew points to the fact that there were many people with Jesus, mostly the lame, the blind (or former blind), and children.
Who Jesus traveled with was an indication of why he came! While Pilate would have entered the Western Gate with great power and fanfare, Jesus was entering on the Eastern side with great humility.
- Jesus didn’t come for the perfect, he came for the broken.
- Jesus didn’t come with great military power, he came as a humble servant.
- Jesus didn’t come for the healthy, he came for the sick.
The Lamb of God
He didn’t even enter Jerusalem through the Gate called Beautiful, he turned and walked all the way down to the Sheep Gate. He did this to proclaim, that I am the Lamb of God, who comes in the name of the Lord!
ALL, not some, but ALL the lambs that were used for sacrifices during the time of Passover had to come from one place… Bethlehem. According to the Jewish sacrificial system, NO other lambs could be used, except those that came from Bethlehem.
And where was Jesus born? That’s right, Bethlehem.
Did Jesus have a choice where he was born? No. But God did. Go knew that in order for the final sacrifice to be made it had to be done right from start to finish. Just like he knew that Jesus would enter Jerusalem declaring his role as the Messiah and proclaiming that he could provide them the one thing they were so desperate for…PEACE.