“After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ” Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They replied, “The Lord needs it.” They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it.” (Luke 19:28-41 NIV84)
John the Baptist had come into the world to prepare the world for its coming King. As Isaiah said, John smoothed the path by preparing the hearts of the King’s people. He preached a message of repentance of sin so that the King’s people would not miss the day of His coming. Well, today (Palm Sunday) is that day. John’s work is done. Today the King of kings and the Lord of Lords rides into His royal city and takes over its most holy place, not the palace, but the temple. Jesus tells His disciples to go into the nearby town and get for Him a donkey and its colt that they will find tied there. He tells them to untie them and bring them to Him. Just in case someone comes out while they are untying the animals, they are told to tell whoever asks, “Its Lord has need of it.” Jesus uses the royal language of kings. He claims to be the ultimate owner of the animal but assures the owner that they will be returned shortly. Every time I read the events of this day, I can’t help but see Jesus, although humble, in absolute control of everything that is happening. The disciples go into town and everything occurs there just as Jesus said it would. The disciples place Jesus on the colt and copy images from II Kings 9:13, and other followers begin to place their clothes and palm branches on the ground before Him as He rides into town, which copies the image of II Kings 1:33.
In their very actions they are declaring Jesus to be their King. Let’s now turn to their words. Spontaneously, the crowd begins to praise Jesus with these phrases, “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in Heaven and glory in the highest.” This last phrase is an echo of the words of the angels to the shepherds on the day of Jesus’ birth. Jesus comes into His city, to His people, to bring them peace. The Pharisees, rather than join in the praise, tell Jesus that He needs to tell the people to stop. Their tone seems to imply that they understood what was happening, but because they rejected its truthfulness, they wanted it to stop. May all of our hearts stop for just a moment when we hear Jesus’ response to the Pharisees, “I tell you…if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out!” That’s right! Jesus was so in control of this moment as the Creator of the universe that if the people’s praise were to cease, they all would have heard creation itself cry out. One way or another, God’s creation was going to recognize and honor the coming of its King.
What about us? On what side of the day do we find ourselves? There are only two sides. We are either on the side of those who recognize the significance of this day and Who it is that comes to us, and we join the others throwing down whatever we can get our hands on to honor and praise the coming of our Savior and King. Or, we are on the side of those who miss everything. May we be of the first group! May we join in the throng of faithful followers who hail Jesus as their “matchless King”!