Who Rode Into Jerusalem?
Study Guide, April 14, 2019
Pastor Clay Olsen
Do you ever have any problem remembering names? Right, It’s one of those normal challenges for most of us. I have a good buddy back in Nebraska. One time a few days after his birthday I sent him a coffee cup. And on the cup it said: “It’s not that I forgot your birthday. I just couldn’t remember your name.” But a lot of us do have some trouble remembering names all right.
I have this pamphlet with the 50 Names of Jesus. It’s really great, but I’m glad they are all written down. But in thinking of this special day of Palm Sunday, those who studied the writings of the Prophets did know Jesus by many of His names in the Scriptures. But at the same time, on that day of Jesus’ triumphal entry, many didn’t know who it really was that rode into Jerusalem that day, even though Jesus had identified Himself over and over to them. So today, let’s just look at a few of those ways He told them Who He was.
Each year the Jewish people celebrated the Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles. It was the last feast of the year, like a harvest festival. It was sometimes referred to as the Feast of Ingathering. The actual Hebrew name is ‘Sukkot’. It looks like ‘sue-cot’, but it’s pronounced as ‘sue-coat’. But one of the traditions of the Feast was the daily drawing of water by the priests from the Pool of Siloam. The priests would then take the water to the altar at the temple while the people chanted a verse from Isaiah 12:3 – “With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!” NLT Then at the altar the priests would pour out this ‘water of salvation’ and the people would sing from Psalms 113-118, and they would call out ‘Hosanna’, meaning, ‘Save us now’. They would also be remembering the water that God brought forth from the rock during their ancestors wilderness wanderings. And that water essentially saved the Jewish people.
Now this was a Fall festival, and Jesus entry into Jerusalem was in the Spring, but the point is, that before Jesus ever rode into the city He had been revealing His true identity to all of the people over and over at many times and in many ways. So here, during this festival, while the priest was pouring out this ‘water of salvation’ and the people were chanting “Hosanna, save us now”, we find that the Apostle John recorded something amazing that happened at that very time. John 7:37-38- “On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to Me! Anyone who believes in Me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” NLT
Can you imagine the surprise of hearing that? In the midst of the thousands of pilgrims to this Festival, Jesus calls out to them and tells them that what they have been looking for all these years through this festival tradition of pouring out these waters of salvation and calling for salvation had now come to pass. The answer to their prayers and their calls for the ‘waters of salvation’ was now standing before them in their very midst. Jesus tells them that He is the ‘living water’ of their salvation. He is the One to whom they had been calling out “Hosanna!” to for all of those years. Jesus had come as the answer to their call; again, the answer to their prayers. What an amazing moment!
So what did the people do? Well, John tells us that some believed in Jesus right then and there, and received Jesus as their ‘Living Water’ of salvation. But there were others who doubted Him, and there were still others that rejected Him. And that’s the way it has always been right up to our very day….some believe…some doubt…some reject. But the point is, Jesus had clearly told them ‘Who’ He was.
Another tradition in this Festival was the lighting of huge oil lamps in the courtyard of the temple. These lamps gave off so much light that it was said that all the courtyards of homes around the temple were lit up from them. And during each of the days of the Festival these lamps were lighted to help them celebrate and to think about the coming of the promised Messiah. They would talk about the Messianic prophecies of Isaiah, like: Isa 42:6- “I am the Lord, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, and I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations…” Isa 49:6- “He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” NASU
So the light from these massive lamps would shine for seven days. But after the seven days of celebrating, the lamps would be put out, and the reality would set in that they would have to wait again till the next Festival for their hopes that the light of the Messiah would come. So, again, John tells us that on that very next day while they were holding their ‘eighth day solemn assembly’ that Jesus is there, in this courtyard of the temple in the midst of the people, and John tells us what happens: John 8:12- “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” NASU
What a moment in history! Again, they had been celebrating this Feast year after year for hundreds of years and Jesus comes to them and essentially points to their massive lamps that pointed to their hopes for their Messiah to come and He says – ‘These lamps have been pointing to Me! I am the Light that you have been looking for. And not only for you, but I am the Light of the world, and I will give light and life to all who follow Me.’ Fantastic!
You would think everyone would have bowed the knee and believed in their Messiah. Well, again, some did, some doubted, and then there were others who rejected, as in what John recorded next: John 8:13- “So the Pharisees said to Him, “You are testifying about Yourself; Your testimony is not true.” NASU Oh, it was true all right! They could have checked out all the prophetic details to prove that if they wanted to. So, No, their problem was not His testimony…their problem was their hard hearts. Remember, they were the same ones that after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead said ‘If we let Him go on like this the Romans are going to come and take what power and privileges we still have away from us.’ What? They just witnessed Jesus raising someone from the dead and they are most concerned about their power and position with the Romans? Any sensible mind would realize that since Jesus could raise people from the dead that it confirmed the fact that Jesus was Lord and Savior, and would bow before Him and surrender their life to Him. But that’s one of the problems with the sinful heart…it distorts and damages all good sense, especially when it’s all entwined with self pride and self will.
But this incident also brings to mind what Abraham said to the unsaved man in Hades who wanted him to send another Lazarus back from out of Paradise to go warn his brothers about ending up in Hades for not repenting. And Abraham told him, ‘No, if they don’t believe the Scriptures, then even if someone would rise from the dead they still won’t believe.’ Know this about a hardened unrepentant heart. A hardened unrepentant heart is even harder than stone. That’s why in salvation God doesn’t repair the sin damaged heart…He replaces it with a completely new heart…a new spiritual heart. That’s why becoming a Christian is not about the reformation of a life or the rehabilitation of a life, but the regeneration of a life. But our point is, Jesus clearly identified ‘Who’ He really was; He was the long awaited prophesied and promised Messiah; the Light of the world!
He also gave them another prophetic picture of who He was on the very day that He rode into Jerusalem. Zech 9:9- “Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, Your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet He is humble, riding on a donkey—riding on a donkey’s colt.” NLT So, for 500 years this prophecy about the King Messiah waited to be fulfilled. They were to be looking for their King, the promised one that was to come to them through the line of King David, but He would be riding on a colt. Now remember, whenever a King would ride into area He intended to conquer he would be riding a stallion. But a colt was a symbol of the King coming to make peace, or reconciliation. And that’s exactly what the Prophets had been telling them to look for when the Messiah came…to look for Him to reconcile them to God through His atoning sacrifice on their behalf.
And so, it came to pass. On that Spring day, that Palm Sunday, it happened: Matt 21:4-11- “All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.’“So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:”Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!”And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” NKJV
The thing is, they all should have known! Yet, many were asking, “Who is this? Who just rode into Jerusalem?” Their response? Again, some believed…some doubted…some rejected. Those who rejected had the same problem that the false religious leaders of the day had. Do you remember what Jesus pointed out was their problem? Matt 22:29 “Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.” NLT
This is one reason that even here at the Chapel that we stress so much and so often about how absolutely essential it is in life for each of us to study the Scriptures. The Scriptures are the key to knowing truth and the key to understanding our God, as well understanding our world and our very own lives. To ignore the Scriptures is the same thing as ignoring God. And that’s what these false religious leaders had been doing; ignoring God by ignoring His Words to them. And you know what they say about ignoring someone, right? ‘Ignoring someone is the worst form of insult.’ It’s what many of the people in Jerusalem had been doing who had to ask, “Who is this One who is riding into Jerusalem on this colt?” They had been ignoring God by ignoring His words to them. And as a result, some of them became part of the number of those who ignored Him, rejected Him…ignored their Messiah, rejected their only hope of ever receiving the ‘living water of salvation’, the only ‘light of life’…eternal life. By ignoring the prophecies, ignoring the Scriptures, they didn’t recognize the time of their visitation.(Luke 19:44) They did not recognize their only Messiah; the only Lord and Savior.
There’s an old saying: ‘Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees.’ It means that people get so caught up in the details of things that they can’t see the big picture…or see what the real issue is. We could say something like that of so many of the people of Jesus’ day; ‘They couldn’t see the festival for the traditions.’ The people had gotten so caught up in the details of their traditions that they couldn’t see the big picture of what the festival was all about…what all of their festivals were all about! The festivals were all about the coming Messiah who they were to recognize when He came because they had been paying attention to God, Who had been speaking to them through His words of the Scriptures to them.
But they weren’t paying attention. They were ignoring the Scriptures because they were ignoring God, just like so many people today. They can’t see the Savior because they are ignoring the Scriptures. Why do you think the biggest battle on Earth is the battle against the Bible? But for all who do ignore the Scriptures Jesus words to them today are the same words to those who ignored His words then: “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.”
To know Who it was that rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday you have to know Who it was that wrote about it all to begin with. God wrote about His coming long before He came. And when you study the Scriptures then you can know who Jesus really is, the only Creator and Lord and Savior of the world! And then you can also know that when you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior that the power of God will then give you new life, new spiritual life, in union with Jesus Christ. And for us to do know Him, then we are called to share the Scriptures and help other people come to know Who it really was that rode into Jerusalem that Palm Sunday…Creator, King, Lord, and Savior.
(Some information gratefully gleaned from: Messiah in The Feasts of Israel, Sam Nadler)