The Triumphal Entry

The first day of holy week, Palm Sunday, often begins with the remembrance of Jesus’s return to Jerusalem as he rides a colt into the Holy City for Passover. This event is documented in all four gospels. Interestingly, Passover and Holy Week only coincide 15 % of the time. But this year, 2020, the year of utter chaos and peril , they do coincide. Thank you Jesus, for this gift. We can retrace your steps this week with many of the same emotions of gratitude.

Because the new testament was written later in history after Jesus walked on earth, there is not absolute certainty which day Passover fell during the original holy week. However John, the disciple of Jesus documented it with certainty. In John, Passover day fell on a Saturday, thereby coinciding with the weekly Sabbath. “That sabbath day was an high day” (19:31), and Friday was the Day of Preparation. The death of Jesus on the Day of Preparation then would be at the same time that the lambs were being prepared for the Passover feast, at the beginning of Passover Day. As written by an anonmyous record keeper , “Jesus himself has become the sacrificial lamb or, in the words of John the Baptist, “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, 36), dying at the same time as the paschal lambs were being ritually slaughtered in the Temple—as prefigured by I Corinthians “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (5:7) ” (

So back to the triumphal entry, Jesus is returning to Jerusalem for the Passover. “At this time in history, Jerusalem had a population of about 20,000 to 30,000 people. But at Passover, the Holy City’s population swelled by perhaps another 150,000.1 Imagine every room filled, with campsites popping up on every available hillside, inhabited by Jewish people who had traveled from throughout the world. ” ( From the four stories presented in the gospels, let’s look at Luke 19:28-40.

28 And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

John states in his gospel, that many in the crowd had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, and they were telling others about it. That was the reason so many went out to meet him – because they had heard about the miraculous sign. And what are they singing? “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! ” Part of Psalm 118, In Ezra 3:10-11 this same Psalm was sung at the founding of the second temple. And where did Jesus go when he entered the holy city? He went straight to the Temple.

Spend some time today meditating on Psalm 118. It is a psalm of praise and worship. And as Luke 19:37 states, the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen. Let’s do the same today. Join me.

Before we end, I found one discovery in my research. Psalm 118 was Martin Luther’s favorite psalm. In his words……… This is my own beloved psalm. Although the entire Psalter and all of Holy Scripture are dear to me as my only comfort and source of life, I fell in love with this psalm especially. Therefore I call it my own. When emperors and kings, the wise and the learned, and even saints could not aid me, this psalm proved a friend and helped me out of many great troubles. As a result, it is dearer to me than all the wealth, honor, and power of the pope, the Turk, and the emperor. I would be most unwilling to trade this psalm for all of it.” (Martin Luther, cited by Boice)

Music for your meditation ……