The Road into Jerusalem
Have you ever watched an awards show or the celebration of a movie premiere? Lights and cameras are set up before it begins. A crowd gathers. Stars pull up to the curb in luxurious vehicles. The red carpet awaits. Every detail is planned to heighten viewers’ involvement.
In describing Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem, Luke understands details matter. Jesus is Israel’s long-awaited Savior. The triumphal entry, far greater than any movie premiere, begins the journey toward Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection.
Jesus did not have a sleek limousine. He came on a donkey. Luke tells how Jesus instructed two disciples to find a colt that had never been ridden, and what they should say to its owners. Everything was just as Jesus predicted. Why did the Lord need a donkey? When Solomon was anointed as king he, too, rode a donkey, or mule (1 Kings 1:33–40). Zechariah had long ago prophesied that Jerusalem’s King would arrive riding a donkey. The colt declared Jesus’s royalty; it declared that Jesus came to bring salvation.
How did the people react? They spread their cloaks on the ground before Him, just as Israel had done for another king in the past (2 Kings 9:13). They turned the dusty road into a red carpet. They praised His miracles. They repeated the words of Psalm 118:26, blessing Jesus as King—and confirming His foreknowledge (Luke 13:35).
The Pharisees objected to the crowd’s acclamation of Jesus. They wanted Him to rebuke His disciples. Jesus’ response that the stones would cry out suggested creation itself rejoiced in the salvation to come (Psalm 98:7–9, Romans 8:19–22). Yet, one week later, those who sang Jesus’ praises would join the Pharisees to condemn Him.
In considering Jesus on the road to Jerusalem, theologian N. T. Wright asks,
Are we [hoping] that Jesus will fulfill [our] desires? Are we ready to sing a psalm of praise, but only as long as Jesus [does] what we want? The long and dusty pilgrim way of our lives gives most of us plenty of time to sort out our motives for following Jesus in the first place. Are we ready not only to spread our cloaks on the road in front of Him, [but also] to follow Him into trouble, controversy, trial and death?
Lord, examine our hearts. Help us follow You as the rightful King of life and Savior of all humanity.