“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel” (John 12:13). These statements of worship were exclaimed by the crowd as Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem. Palm tree branches were waved high in the air in a posture of praise, and the streets were lined with cloaks from the crowd to pave the way for the King as He rode by on a young donkey. Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday signified the beginning of redemption, but the means by which it was to come about was misunderstood by many.
Misunderstandings of the Crowd and the Disciples
Most of the crowd that welcomed Jesus on this day also yelled to crucify Him several days later, but how could this crowd go from witnessing Jesus fulfill the Messianic prophecy from Zechariah 9:9 to turning on Him by demanding His death later in the week? This sad reality points to how Jesus truly was a Misunderstood Messiah. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the crowd was expecting Him to both overthrow the Roman Empire and establish God’s literal, physical kingdom so that the Jewish people could live with God forever. They, however, were not expecting the Messiah to walk humbly and willingly to His death and to allow himself to be captured, mocked, and crucified. They misunderstood who Jesus was and what He came to do, and once they realized that He was not going to meet their expectations they gladly joined the Pharisees in demanding His death.
It was not only the crowd that misunderstood who Jesus was, but also His very own disciples. John 12:16 tells us that “His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.” Jesus revealed Himself and His plan through multiple times and ways to His disciples, but they could not comprehend how Jesus was to establish His kingdom through suffering on a cross. They too believed that the Messiah was going to destroy the Roman Empire and claim His role as king of Jerusalem. Even though the disciples did not fully understand Jesus’ plan until after His death and resurrection, none of them, save for Judas Iscariot, turned against Jesus when their expectations were not met. Instead, the disciples chose to trust and follow Jesus, even when it did not make sense and even though they did it imperfectly.
Our Understanding and Response
It can be easy to say we would have not misunderstood Jesus’ plan if we were in the disciples’ place or that we would have not turned on Jesus if He had not met our expectations. However, we know the full plan of redemption and understand why Jesus died on the cross and rose again, and yet we continue to doubt and misunderstand God’s plan when our desires are not met. Even in our misunderstandings and unmet expectations, we must remind ourselves of the truth of the gospel so that our response, like that of the disciples, is one of trust even in the midst of the unknown.
Jesus was misunderstood by many yet persisted to humbly head to the cross and die in our place. Jesus knew that His death was the ultimate sacrifice, and that through His death and resurrection, He would restore mankind’s relationship with God, destroy sin and death, and offer forgiveness for all who choose to believe. Even though Jesus had the power to destroy the Roman Empire and establish His reign in Jerusalem, Jesus knew that there was a better way, and that way entailed inviting all people into the opportunity for relationship with Him through faith. Jesus did not seek to be understood or to demonstrate His power just so people would see His might, but instead humbly entered Jerusalem in obedience to the Father’s will. Through Jesus’ humility, kindness, and lowliness, He gave Himself up so that we would have life in Him. As we prepare our hearts for Easter, let us praise Jesus for who He is and what He has done- Hosanna in the highest to our humble Savior who took our place on the cross so that we may have life in Him!
Elizabeth joined our team in 2019. She loves traveling, being outside, spending time with the people she loves, and drinking coffee.