12 The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!”
John 12:12-19 records the triumphal entry. All four gospels record this event indicating something of its importance. John’s account is brief compared to that in the synoptics.
The triumphal entry was the most public occasion of Jesus’ life. He rode into the capital city to fulfill prophecy in a very dramatic manner. Official Israel had already rejected Him as the Messiah. The crowd was still expecting a political savior.
The movement from a private setting in Bethany to a public setting in Jerusalem made Jesus a marked man by religion.
The next day
The “next day” would be Sunday, Roman time. We can indeed call it “Palm Sunday.” This was the day after the anointing.
a great multitude that had come to the feast,
The popularity of Jesus among the masses had come to a focus. The Jewish historian Josephus claimed that crowds of 2.7 million would throng the streets of Jerusalem during the Passover feast. Whether this is true we do not know. In any case, many had seen His miracles.
when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
Jerusalem was the location for the coming of the great King. Many may have thought that the Messiah was coming to establish His kingdom with Israel. They put their political hope in Him, but Jesus did not come to set up His kingdom at this time.
took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out:
Placing branches of palm trees in the path of someone riding into a city was an indication of royalty. Waving of palm branches symbolized acclaiming Him King Jesus.
The crowd now cited a traditional psalm while Jesus entered Jerusalem. It was the masses that pronounced blessings from Scripture. The word “hosanna” is a Hebrew word meaning save us. It was an acclamation of praise but also a call for a conquering political hero to save the masses from their oppression.
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
The crowd shouted Psalm 118:25-26 here; it was probably not intended as a strict quotation. This was a psalm of ascents sung to welcome pilgrims coming up to Jerusalem. It is a messianic psalm and one of the most quoted psalms in the New Testament.
This verse indicated the coming one would save the nation, the Messiah. The Jews regarded this psalm as messianic. Here, the crowd thought that Christ or the Messiah had come to meet their earthly expectations. They viewed Jesus as a miracle worker (Lu 19:37). No wonder Jesus wept over Jerusalem.
The King of Israel!”
“King of Israel” was a messianic title. Jesus will eventually be King of a kingdom that far transcends the boundaries of Israel.
The purpose of the triumphal entry was to make manifest Jesus’ sacrifice for sins.
Jesus did not court public attention throughout His ministry. The triumphal entry was an exceptional policy. In much of His ministry Jesus requested privacy for what He did (Mt 12:19; 16:20; Mr 5:43; 9:9). He said that “His time had not come.” Since this event was so public, its uniqueness demands an explanation.
Jesus came into Jerusalem by way of triumphal entry to die for the sins of the world. He came on Passover to be the Passover, the pascal Lamb. It was a royal mission of salvation. Calvary is the hinge of history. The triumphal entry was not triumphal at all. This was from the crowd’s viewpoint a day of wild enthusiasm, a day of delirium. This rapture of excitement was real but misguided.
The triumphal entry was not a bid for popular sympathy, as Nietzsche tried to suggest. Instead, it was a demonstration by Jesus that He was not coming to set up a kingdom on earth at this time. He was the Messiah without an army. He did not come with pomp and circumstance. He came on an ass, not a horse. However, His messianic mission was no longer a secret. He was in the process of fulfilling prophecies. The triumphal entry was indeed an official presentation to Israel of the long-promised Messiah, but it was not, as they expected, a nationalistic king who would rule politically.
The failure of the crowd to recognize what Jesus was doing in the triumphal entry led the crowd later to yell, “Crucify Him.” Therefore, Jesus lamented for Israel. We see this in a Christmas carol:
O Come, O come, Immanuel,
And Ransom captive Israel,
That Mourn in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear