Back in 2012, the Rev. Glen Scrivener who blogs at the King’s English posted a wonderful and rich reflection on Palm Sunday, Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He first examines the prophecies foretelling such an event, and then comments on the nature of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem and what it signifies in terms of His Kingship:
[…] This coming to Jerusalem is often called “The Triumphal Entry”. To call it such makes the comparison with the Roman Triumph ceremonies where conquering commanders and kings returned from battle to receive glory and honour.
Christ’s “triumphal entry” is different. For a start, His choice of transport is a deliberate subversion of kingly expectation. He does ride into town. He is a king. But He’s not that kind of king.
He is the lowly King. And He doesn’t come returning from battle – He’s heading for His death. In five days He would be strung up on a Roman cross. And the crowd that sings Hosanna will soon cry “Crucify Him!”
No-one has captured the irony better than Samuel Crossman in My Song is Love Unknown.
Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Then “Crucify!” is all their breath,
And for His death they thirst and cry.
Jesus knows that this is their destiny. And His. Yet He rides on.
And perhaps the deepest irony comes when we consider their benediction: “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” The saying is from Psalm 118. As we turn to the original context, notice where the blessed recipient of these hosannas ends up…
“Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD. 27 God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.” (Psalm 118:26-27)
The Blessed One is the Coming One. He comes in the name of the LORD. But where does He come to?
There is a welcoming committee who greet Him “out of the house of the LORD” – that is, the temple. And when they eventually get hold of Him, what do they say? “Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.”
This Coming LORD is the Blessed One, but as He’s received by the people He becomes a Human Sacrifice! The King is bound upon the altar.
What kind of triumphal entry is this? It is a procession which leads not to a stage, not to a throne, but to a cross. This is the meekness of our LORD and King, whose glory is His sacrifice. This is truly love unknown.
Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend, in Whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.
I strongly recommend reading the whole devotional.