Triumphant Entry (David’s Comments)

All four gospels record this event — which from an historical critical perspective lends a certain credibility to it — or something very similar happening.

They differ in details: John has them waving their branches and Matthew has them throwing them down at his feet. Both Matthew and Luke have them throwing their cloaks down at his feet as well.

But they agree on two things:

He rod into Jerusalem on a colt — in response to the oracle in Zechariah:

I shall stand guard before my home to defend it against all comers, and no oppressor will overrun them ever again, for now I am on the alert.

Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion! Shout for joy, daughter of Jerusalem! Look, your king is approaching, he is vindicated and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

He will banish chariots from Ephraim and horses from Jerusalem; the bow of war will be banished. He will proclaim peace to the nations, his empire will stretch from sea to sea, from the River to the limits of the earth

Zechariah 9:8-10 (NRSV)

and they agree the crowds sing from Psalm 118:

We beg you, Yahweh, save us, we beg you, Yahweh, give us victory!
Blessed in the name of Yahweh is he who is coming!

earlier in the same Psalm we can read:

With Yahweh on my side as my help, I gloat over my enemies
it is better to take refuge in Yahweh than to rely on human beings;
better to take refuge in Yahweh than to rely on princes.
Nations were swarming around me,
in the name of Yahweh I cut them down;
they swarmed around me, pressing upon me,
in the name of Yahweh I cut them down.
They swarmed around me like bees, they flared up like a brushwood fire,
in the name of Yahweh I cut them down.

It seems clear to me these crowds were expecting a violent and conquering messiah — someone to establish the reign of God with force but the gesture of Jesus proclaimed that the battle was already won — and peace will reign.

Maran atha

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