When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” (Matt. 21:10)
You can make any manner of comparisons to the way Jesus entered into the great city Jerusalem. It was like the first Hollywood red carpet complete with fancy coats and decked out crowds. It was similar to Aladdin’s, my favorite Disney movie, entry into Agrabah on top of his monkey/elephant led and followed by any number of fanciful acts. It was like the Chicago Cubs parade after winning the World Series last year, what with its communal expression of joy and elation after a long suffering drought of hopelessness.
All of these are good comparisons and the Cubs one might even garner consideration for the coveted status of “great” (at least in my opinion), but they all tend to inflate ideas of grandeur and victory. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey (foal) had very different connotations.
Harkening back to the prophet Zechariah, the author of Matthew makes it clear Jesus is entering the city as the new king. The crowd even goes along and equates Jesus as one of King David’s offspring, one who would have a title to the throne. But the type of monarch Zechariah (and by then extension Matthew) describes is opposite of the warrior, conqueror, and subjugator currently occupying the political power in most of the known world (including Jerusalem): Augustus, Caesar of Rome.
Instead of being a king with power over people (he did reject this in his temptations), Jesus fulfills God’s vision of the kingdom at hand: humility, peacefulness, meekness. Instead of riding in on a warhorse, Jesus rides in on a working animal: the donkey. Jesus’ lordship is made clear in the fact that even in his “triumphal entry,” he is still acting as the servant to all.
But by the time he gets into the city proper, Jerusalem has been shaken to its core. Questions abound about just who this servant king is, rival to the current powers that be (Rome, Pontius Pilate, and Herod).
Turmoil and confusion ran rampant as expectations were sky high for Jesus. The crowds called for Jesus to save them (Hosanna translated means “save us”), but the question was from what or who? Surely those in charge heard those cries. How would they react? Would they crush opposition or let themselves be transformed? I guess we find out later in the week…