I’ve written in a prior post that what we call the “Triumphal Entry” of Jesus into Jerusalem is better thought of as a provocation to the powers of darkness to launch the onslaught that would lead to the cross than as an act of triumph. It is indeed a true presentation of the King, but this is not the King’s triumph. That is yet to come as Jesus rides the foal of a donkey into Jerusalem. You may or may not agree with this perspective, but either way it would be quite legitimate to ask, “So what?” Isn’t this understanding of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem just a theoretical point that makes no real difference in my life?
Not exactly. In fact, this understanding of the “Triumphal Entry” narrative has very practical implications. Here are three:
- With this perspective we can now appreciate these events more deeply than even those who were there and participated in them. Think about Zechariah’s prophecy - “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9) – and Jesus’ fulfillment of it. If you belong to Jesus, this is your King! This is what he’s like. Humble, righteous, bringing salvation. Stronger, smarter, wiser than the powers of darkness that want to bend you and break you. Willingly entering this furnace, this meatgrinder, to be consumed – for you. Winning your eternal liberation and vanquishing the powers of darkness, defeating death itself as he rises from the grave. This is your King. Try taking that perspective into your current circumstances without it having any effect on your life, your attitude, your hope. Despair, discouragement, anxiety cannot withstand true knowledge of the King, and what he has done for us.
- Look at the imperfect understanding of the crowds and even of those who were true disciples – and learn to look at your own current circumstances with humility and faith. You and I do not have everything about our lives, everything about what’s happening to us and around us, figured out – the good, the bad and the ugly things of life. Our King is doing things that we cannot see and that we do not know. Because he is the virtuous, loving, powerful, faithful King that he is, this is a truly wonderful thing – and we need to trust him. Has he not proven himself?
He has said that he will take the things that look like the worst disasters in your life and will use them for good. Does not his own life and death and resurrection make the case? Does not the gospel itself make the case? When things go well, we too easily become full of ourselves. When things go badly, we too easily become discouraged and frustrated and angry and impatient. We need to learn that in the moment we don’t always see what God is doing. But we need to learn to trust him. What is there in your life that seems to have gone wrong? Trust him for it. Wait for him. You won’t be sorry.
- The fact that Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of Passover week was not really a “triumphal entry” does not mean there is no such entry. This same Jesus who has come once riding on the foal of a donkey is going to come again riding on a war horse, and with a name written on his thigh, “King of kings and Lord of lords.” He will stand on the Mount of Olives, and all the nations will bow to him. And his triumph will be consummated. You don’t know when it will happen, nor do I. So we need to be ready. Are we fickle, fair weather followers of Jesus like so many in this crowd? Or are we loyal subjects, looking for – and ready for – his return in full and final triumph?
Give all of your loyalty this great King. There is no better, more consequential decision you will ever make.