Gospel: Matthew 21:1-11 or Matthew 24:36-44
Epistle: Romans 13:(8-10)11-14
Lesson: Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm: Psalm 122
CLB Commentary – Rev. Gary Witkop
The world is used to military parades where a victorious general, or king, or other leader marches into his home city as a great hero. We have seen that in nations around the world including ticker-tape parades of military heroes being welcomed into New York City. Today we see that also in the parades of Super Bowl, or World Series Champions returning to their city for a victory parade.
What we have in Luke 21, and all the other Gospel accounts of the same story, is similar. It is in many ways a victory parade, though for a totally different sort of hero. Jesus was at this time recognized by many of the Jews as a national hero. His fame had spread far and wide and there would have been talk about him in homes, inns and camps all around Jerusalem. The pilgrims who had come to worship in Jerusalem for Passover had no doubt hoped to see this Jesus they had heard so much about. So, when Jesus called his disciples and set this up, he was setting the stage for a hero’s welcome to Jerusalem.
There is a huge difference however in what Jesus set up and what most people would have done. Most people would have chosen a beautiful, strong stallion or a Roman chariot. Most people would have chosen the symbols of strength and power, but Jesus chose the colt of a donkey, a symbol of humility. This set the stage for a different kind of victory parade; a parade of humble nature, not pride and power. It would be like the Super Bowl champs riding into town in Volkswagen bugs instead of expensive sports cars or big busses. It was truly a different kind of victory parade because Jesus was and is a different kind of king, a different kind of hero.
This parade is more a parade of Matthew 5:5 than of power and might; “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Or perhaps the other beatitudes “Blessed are the poor in spirit; blessed are those who mourn; blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” Jesus came preaching a different message than the world and was himself a different kind of king or hero. The world values and exalts power and might, but Jesus came in humility. The world deals in politics and weapons of war, Jesus came with the message of love and service. The world preaches personal fulfillment and success, Jesus came preaching repentance and faith in God. He was, and is, a different kind of savior.
Regarding the coats laid on the road in front of Jesus, I always assumed these were symbols to say that the people were placing themselves under his leadership, and the Palm branches were a symbol of Jewish nationality and pride. Both of these things helped make the parade festive and joyous. So too did the shouting (perhaps chanting) of Hosanna. All these responses to his entry tie together in a statement that said the people were putting their hope in Jesus. The people were looking to Jesus to be their leader, or king or some kind of hero. But Jesus came as a different sort of king or hero. He came to Jerusalem to die. You cannot divorce the triumphal entry from the cross. Jesus came to be the answer to all mankind’s prayers for spiritual help, but he came as a different kind of savior, One who would die to save his people, not fight some military or political battle.