In the gospel of John, Jesus’ proclamation at the feast, His attesting miracles, His identifying Himself as one with the Father, and His announcement that eternal life is found only in Him are all leading to the recognition that He could indeed be the promised Messiah. This momentum builds toward the Sunday before the Jewish Passover. In an event we now call “Palm Sunday,” Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey in fulfillment of the prophet Zechariah’s words from circa 500 BC. “Now this took place (the triumphal entry into Jerusalem) that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, ‘Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted upon a donkey, even upon a colt, the foal of a beast of burden” ‘ “ (Matthew 21:4-5 quoting Zechariah 9:9).
Luke further describes the scene, “And they brought [the colt] to Jesus, and they threw their garments on the colt, and put Jesus on it. And as He was going, they were spreading their garments in the road. And as He was now approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord; peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’ And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to Him, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.’ And He answered and said, ‘I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!’ “ (Luke 19:35-40).
In a complete reversal from the feeding of the five thousand when Jesus fled the multitude’s attempt to make Him king, He now embraces their praise and recognition that He is the promised king. The crowds cry out, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 19:38), ascribing this title to Jesus, the Nazarene. In fact, this day was so ordained for Jesus’ kingdom to become public that if the crowd were silenced, as the Pharisees demanded Jesus do, the rocks themselves would cry out the proclamation.
Now we enter the tumultuous passion week of our Savior. The week starts with Jesus staying in the public eye. “And [Jesus] entered the temple and began to cast out those who were selling, saying to them, ‘It is written, “And My house shall be a house of prayer,” but you have made it a robber’s den.’ And He was teaching daily in the temple; but the chief priests and the scribes and the leading men among the people were trying to destroy Him, and they could not find anything that they might do, for all the people were hanging on His words.” (Luke 19:45-48). Jesus’ cleansing of the temple and daily teaching in the temple were very public aspects of His ministry during the passion week.
Of course, a dramatic turn of events is coming as the passion week is unfolding.