Palm Sunday marks the beginning of the Passion Week, as Jesus fulfilled the prophecy given to Zechariah the prophet, by entering the city of Jerusalem on a donkey—the Triumphal Entry:
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).
As I have studied the Passion Week over the years, this day has always been bittersweet for me. I can picture Jesus on the donkey, riding into Jerusalem, as the people put down their garments and palm leaves. I can imagine the men, women and children running to the street to see Jesus come into the city. I can hear their voices crying out: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9). I can feel their hope as they cry out to the Savior!
A movie has not been made to rival the images in my head of Jesus entering the city and the people crowding the streets. It must have been an incredible event, igniting all the senses. This was not just Jesus the prophet; this was the Messiah they had been waiting for, coming just as the prophet said He would come. Can you see it? Can you imagine it?
While His entry and the realization of the fulfillment of the prophecy were spectacular, the shine of the day is dimmed in light of what is to come. Unfortunately, I know what is coming, and it will get really ugly before His ultimate triumph. At the time, I believe their hearts were beating in their chests in anticipation of Jesus overthrowing the Romans. I believe they were faithful to Jesus and all He represented to them, and yet I know they could not grasp the true significance of His coming. He came to save their souls for eternity, not to overthrow the government.
Jesus Christ entered the city as their King, bringing salvation for the people. At a glance, it would seem this is it—the King has come and He will take back the nation of Israel from the Romans. However, this is just the beginning; the tip of the iceberg. Although He entered the city, received as a King, things would change. This week, He would be beaten, scourged and put on the Cross. It does not sound very triumphant, but when you look at the significance of this week, knowing how the week concludes, you realize His entry was triumphal. He did triumph and we have triumphed with Him—because of Him.