Jesus, on His final approach to Jerusalem, was about to pass through Bethphage and Bethany when He told two of His disciples to go into the village where they would find a colt “on which no one has ever sat” (19:28-31). The disciples did as Jesus had commanded them and they found a colt and brought it back to Jesus. They threw their clothes on the donkey colt and Jesus sat upon it. While riding the donkey into Jerusalem, “many spread their clothes on the road” and the other gospel writers reveal that they also spread palm branches before Him on the ground (Matthew 21:8; Mark 11:8; John 12:13). Jesus’ actions fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah, who predicted that the Messiah would ride on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). Throughout His life and ministry, Jesus often resisted others’ recognition of Him as the Messiah because it was not yet God’s time, but these events reveal that Jesus was entering Jerusalem to present Himself to the religious leaders as the promised Messiah. Making His descent from the Mount of Olives, the multitudes began praising Him for all the great works he had done. The gospel of John says that many had come to see Him because they had heard that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead (John 12:17-18). Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem was probably the height of His popularity as people cried out, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (19:38). Some of the Pharisees objected to the crowd’s shouts of praise (19:39), but Jesus said, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out” (19:40). As Jesus came near to Jerusalem, Luke is the only gospel writer to record the fact that Jesus grieved over the city (19:41-42), mostly because Jesus knew that many of the people praising Him now would be the same ones who would also demand His crucifixion just a few days later. A part of Jesus’ grief was also His knowledge of Jerusalem’s future destruction by Titus in A.D. 70 (19:43-44) when the Romans would overthrow the entire city including the temple, homes, and the people. Ultimately, the destruction of Jerusalem was God’s judgment upon the city for failing to receive Jesus as the promised Messiah.
Upon His arrival in Jerusalem, Jesus went to the temple where He drove out “those who bought and sold in it saying, ‘It is written, My house is a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves’” (19:45-46). This was Jesus’ way of cleansing the temple from those who were simply attempting to make a profit using “religion” as their means; in other words, these people had no love for God but a love for taking advantage of those who did. Jesus began teaching in the temple daily, but the religious leaders “sought to destroy Him” (19:47); however, they could not because Jesus was still popular with the crowds (19:48). From this time forward, the religious leaders allowed their unbelief and bitterness toward Jesus drive them to do whatever was necessary to restore their “normal” religious practices to the temple. Eventually, these leaders would sway the opinion of the multitudes, which would result in Jesus facing the hardest days of His very short life.
Dear God, may my praise not be conditional, based on the opinions of the people, but help me to remain committed to my faith in You.