As he rode the donkey from the crest of the Mount of Olives towards Jerusalem, the entire city unfolded before him in a beautiful panorama. He could see thousands of Passover pilgrims traveling on the road in front of him towards the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem. The Temple took a place of prominence in the scene, its golden roof sparkling in the sunlight. As he descended the Mount of Olives on this road that leads from Jericho into Jerusalem, the people began to throw their cloaks and palm branches in front of him. They cried out, “Hosanna!”, which meant God save us. They called him the Son of David, referring to the Messiah who would deliver them.
The Messiah they sought was not one who would deliver them from death, sin, and Hell. They wanted a savior who would deliver them from the Roman oppression under which they suffered. Although they echoed Old Testament passages that spoke of the Messiah coming in the name of the Lord, these people did not believe that Jesus was the King of King and Lord of Lords. They did not believe that He was God in flesh. To them, he was simply an earthly king who would save them from an earthly oppressor.
How do we know this is what they believed? Look at Matthew 21:10-11 which reads, “And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” (ESV)
When faced with the question of the identity of Jesus, they referred to him as another prophet, one from Nazareth, not the Son of God. As a matter of fact, in the days that follow, the same crowd that cried “Hosanna” would cry out “Crucify him!” because Jesus did not reveal Himself to be the earthly king and deliverer they sought.
Before we throw rocks at the Passover crowds that traveled with Jesus to Jerusalem that day, we must acknowledge that all of us must answer the same question they answered that Palm Sunday. “Who is this?”
The Jews of the time called him a blasphemer and had him crucified for claiming to be God. They said he was crazy, or demon-possessed. The Ottoman Muslims sealed the Eastern Gate in 1541 to prevent any self-professed Messiah from attempting to fulfill Ezekiel’s prophecy that the Messiah would enter through the Eastern Gate. If they thought Jesus was that Messiah, there would be no reason to seal the gate. They too believed he was just a prophet—a mere man. Both groups gave their answer to the question.
How would you answer the question, “Who is this?” as it refers to Jesus. Who do you say that Jesus is?
I love what C.S. Lewis wrote in his book Mere Christianity. He said:
You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool; you can spit at him and kill him for a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.[i]
This week as Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ, a man who claimed to be God, I leave you again with the question regarding Jesus that the people of Jerusalem asked the crowd: “Who is this?”
your answer? If we’re going to live like Jesus, we must first know Him. Do you
know Him as Lord and Savior?
[i] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1958), 41.