Mark 11:8-11 (NIV): Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest!”
Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
As the crowd of disciples moved along with Jesus, those who went ahead of Him laid their cloaks on the road in front of His donkey, an ancient sign of commitment to a king (cf. 2 Kings 9:12-13). And they began singing songs that pointed to the coming kingdom that they all felt was right on the cusp:
- Hosanna! – This actually means “Save us!” and is a call of subjects for a king to intercede on their behalf.
- Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! – This is an excerpt from Psalm 118 (verse 26). The original context of this verse was doubtless in the minds of the disciples. It follows two pertinent sections of the Psalm, the first of which talks about entering the gate of the temple through which only the righteous may enter (verses 19-21); and the second of which talks about the rejected stone becoming the capstone (verses 22-23), a section which Jesus applied specifically to Himself shortly afterwards (cf. Matthew 21:42). This verse also comes immediately before a section that talks about joining a festal procession with tree branches in hand, a procession that goes right up to the horns of the altar (verse 27) where the sacrifices are made. All of this context made this single verse more appropriate for the occasion than any of the disciples ever dreamed.
- Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! – This shows that the disciples still believed that Jesus was coming to fulfill the popular Messianic ideas of the time. That His coming signified His intent to become the earthly king of Israel, to reestablish the Davidic dynasty, to remove the Roman overlords, and to restore the glory of Israel, making her once again a free and sovereign nation. This view had only one spiritual dimension to it – that all of this would demonstrate that God was once more looking with favor on His people.
All of these shouts, which grew and spread among the people all along the way into the city, were received by Jesus (cf. Luke 19:38-40) even though they fell far short of the reality behind His triumphal entry. The people would, one day soon, understand what was really happening – but that would only be on the other side of the horrific and miraculous events that were fast approaching. Until then, this would have to do. This step had been accomplished. Not only had one more significant prophecy been fulfilled to the letter, but Jesus had put everyone on notice that He was making His move. The end game had begun. Tomorrow He would take the next steps.
Father, it is clear that Jesus was so focused on His mission, the mission that You had sent Him to accomplish, that all of this adulation, all of this popular opinion didn’t even turn His head. He had the power and, at least for the moment, the popular support to actually take over the throne if Israel right then. But He had already turned down an earthly kingship once (Matthew 4:8-10), because a worldly kingdom was not Your plan. He had come to establish YOUR kingdom on earth, not through honor and acclaim, but through His suffering, death, and resurrection. And He wasn’t going to let anything sidetrack Him. Thank You, Lord! Amen.