When Jesus had entered Jerusalem riding a donkey, he found children singing songs of praise to Him in the Temple.  Matthew 21:1-11; 14-17; Mark 11:1-11


    Jesus' ministry was drawing to a close, and the time for His final suffering and death was at hand. Jesus had traveled with the pilgrims from Galilee. The Gos­pels record a number of parables which He spoke during this period.

    Jesus, his disciples and the pilgrims came to Jericho after crossing the Jordan River. Here Jesus healed blind Barte­maeus and his blind companion. Then He spoke words of salvation to Zaccheus,  who was despised because he served Rome as a customs collector.

    Leaving Jericho, Jesus and His dis­ciples made the wearisome climb from Jericho (around 1000 feet below sea level) to Bethany on the Mount of Olives (over 2500 feet above sea level). Al­though this distance was only around 15 miles, this meant climbing 3500 feet through a barren and bandit-infested area. Many people came to attend the Pass­over


Mount of Olives as seen today from old Jerusalem. The Kidron Valley runs across the foreground. Bethany lies out of the picture to the right.








which was observed in memory of what God had done for His people many centuries before when He led them out of the slavery of Egypt.


     Jesus and His disciples seem to have stayed in Bethany. Whether they stayed with Lazarus, Mary and Martha is not known.

     Bethany lies at the southeastern end of the long finger-like range of the Mount of Olives. A short distance to the north from Bethany in a saddle-like section of the range was the area known as Beth­phage. Then the top of the range rose somewhat sharply to the highest part of the range. From this area the holy city of Jerusalem seemed to lie at the feet of the pilgrim. And a path led down the western slope to the Kidron valley and up on the other side to the city itself.


    As Jesus neared the city on Sunday morning, He sent two of His disciples ahead to Bethphage to get the colt of a donkey and bring it to Him. Probably Jesus and His disciples had been joined by a gathering of Galilean pilgrims. The two disciples came with the colt which had never been ridden. They put garments on the colt, and Jesus mounted it.


    As Jesus rode the donkey, the people spread their garments on the path for the colt to step on as it walked on, carrying Jesus. They also cut down branches of trees and strewed them in the way. Those who walked behind and those who went ahead of Jesus joined in singing, "Ho­sanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosannah in the highest" (Matt. 21 :9). The people with Jesus recognized Him as the Messiah and as the fulfillment of the prophecies of old and of the deep yearn­ing of the Jews for the coming of the Messiah.



Matthew 21::4-5 refer to two prophe­cies of which this act of Jesus was the fulfillment. Isaiah 62: 11 reads, "Say ye


Street of old Jerusalem today.


to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy sal­vation cometh." Zechariah 9:9: "Rejoice greatly 0 daughter of Zion; shout, 0 daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass."

    The donkey (ass) was and is the com­mon beast of burden in the Near East (2 Kings 9:13 ). When kings went out to war, they rode horses. When they went on peaceful errands, they rode donkeys. Especially the white donkey was con­sidered worthy of carrying people of rank.

    As the "Prince of Peace" Jesus chose to ride a donkey on His triumphal entry of Jerusalem. Thereby He dramatically demonstrated that He was the promised Messiah. He came, however, not to make war on the Roman overlord. He came to bring peace, spiritual peace to His people.



    According to tradition, the people of Jerusalem went out to meet the pilgrims coming to a festival at the temple. As these pilgrims walked down the slopes of the Mount of Olives and the people walked to meet them, the two groups chanted Psalm 118:25-28 responsively and then joined in singing Psalm 103: 17.

    The triumphal song of the people, hailing Jesus as the Messiah, is based on Psalm 118: 25-26 and Isaiah 62: 11. The word "Hosanna" means "save now." It was the cry for help which a people in deep trouble and distress called out to their king or their god. This cry of the people as found in the triumphal song is sort of a quotation from Psalm 118: 25 "Save now, I beseech Thee, 0 Lord."


    It should be said that the word "ho­sanna" may by this time have lost some of its original meaning. It may have been used to some extent as a cry of welcome. But essentially, the word is a cry of an oppressed people to their king and Savior.


This song was sung again by children in the temple. And the leading priests and scribes indignantly urged that Jesus tell the children to be quiet. In answer, Jesus reminded them of Psalm 8:2.