In what way can Jesus’ procession and entry into Jerusalem be considered triumphant? In each of the Gospels, the subheadings introduce this as Jesus Triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The rabbis had taught that “when the Messiah comes he will ride a white horse, but if Israel is not ready he will ride a foal.”
It is strange kind of triumph which is being heralded. The crowds were celebrating. The Passover was in preparation, and it was into this gathering that Jesus makes his entrance. While the crowds were crying: “Hosanna, blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven.” And Jesus, riding a donkey, was demonstrating his own protest. They waved their branches and spread their cloaks. They were not wrong. But they really did not understand.
Jesus had not long stopped wiping tears from his eyes after weeping over his friend Lazarus. Before long he would be weeping over Jerusalem.
What sorrows did Jesus carry amid the cries of this noisy crowd ? If only they had known the things that make for peace. This is Christian “demonstration” in its purest form. Was Jesus going to “take back” Jerusalem. Was he going to conquer the Roman occupation on a donkey?
Is that what this procession is about? They were soon to learn through their cries that things were not what they expected, or even demanded.
“Hosannas” were soon to give way to “Crucify him.” The talk of thrones were replaced by crosses. The blessing comes in recognising this Jesus as Messiah. After all, that is what they were calling him along the procession.
If we are not ready for Jesus on a colt we will get everything else wrong about him. So in what way can we say this entry to Jerusalem was triumphal at all? A donkey conquering a war horse, a cross conquering a crown, forgiveness conquering revenge, mercy conquering barbarism, and love conquering hate.