A Dramatic ‘Parable’ about Peace

Today’s Scripture: c

12 The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,
‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord — the King of Israel!’ (NRSV)

During most of his ministry Jesus was surrounded by crowds. Crowds reached out to touch him that they might be healed. Crowds hung on his words hoping to understand something more about God. Crowds were amazed at his miracles. Their voices cried out to him for help. Crowds gathered around Christ, followed him, listened to him, and hoped that somehow this one who amazed them so much might be the Messiah. In the last week of Christ’s life, crowds played a very prominent part. Let’s look at their reaction to Christ.

During the Passover Feast in Jerusalem, the people from all over Israel came to celebrate this national feast. The Jewish historian, Josephus, estimated that almost three million people crowded the city during this time.

As Jesus entered Jerusalem, the crowds were inspired by him. He came into Jerusalem riding upon a donkey. Crowds threw down palm branches and their outer garments in his pathway. They shouted. “Hosanna to the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” Through this prophetic picture or dramatic parable, Jesus attempted to teach the crowd a lesson about who he was. In ancient times a king, when he was going to war, would ride into battle on a horse.

When a king rode upon a donkey, it was a symbol of peace. In the day of Christ a donkey was not looked upon as a contemptible or amusing animal. It was symbolic of peace. “He that cometh” was a phrase depicting the Messiah. Jesus drew upon the ancient picture from Zechariah and other prophets which depicted the coming of the Messiah upon a lowly beast (Zechariah 9:9). At his coming the crowd shouted: “Hosanna.” Too often we think that their hosanna meant praise to Jesus. But literally the word, “hosanna” meant “save now.” “Save us now,” they cried. “Here comes the king, the Messiah. Save us now.” The crowds were inspired by his presence and hoped that he might be the Messiah. But not all of this admiration turned to adoration. Later it would change to something else—“crucify him!”

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