HISTORY’S GREATEST PARADE
Part One of a Series on Passion Week
By: Frank G. Tunstall
Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem brought three great prophecies to fulfillment at the same time, and it all happened spontaneously. The first is in Psalm 118. It was probably written by King David to applaud the unlimited mercies of God. The psalm is a prophetic celebration of Israel’s Messiah, foretold a millennium in advance, who came to make mercy available to all people worldwide. The psalm predicted the exact language of the people’s chants a thousand years later: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Psalm 118:26; John 12:13).
Jesus the Messiah and David’s greater Son presented Himself in Jerusalem that day as the God who is so merciful He saves all who repent, no matter the depth of their sin. This is the highest expression of mercy, and it gives people assurance of forgiveness and peace with God. Answering the petition of lost people worldwide is exactly what Jesus came to this earth to accomplish. He perfectly fulfilled the specific prayer of Psalm 118 to the point that the blessing even includes eternal life.
The “Hosanna” in the English text of John 12:13 derives from a Greek word that is a prayer for God to “save us.” This is the exact language of Psalm 118:25. The Greek word for “blessed” in 12:13 transliterates into English as eulogy. Jesus’ achievement at Calvary guaranteed the success He brings to all who believe and accept Him as God’s Son, and that accomplishment remains His eulogy to this day. In Jerusalem long ago, as the crowd grew larger and larger and louder and louder, Jesus humbly offered Himself to His people as their King come in the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel.
Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, 15 “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt” (John 12:14 ).
The second prophecy comes from the pen of Zechariah who was a contemporary of Haggai (ca. 520 B.C.). Zechariah’s predictions joined rank with Haggai to encourage the reconstruction of the temple in Jerusalem that had been destroyed by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar some seventy years earlier (Ezra 5:1; Zechariah 1:16; 4:6-7). Zechariah also foretold additional details of Messiah’s triumphal entry some five centuries before it happened. Jesus fulfilled the prophecy exactly in a parade the disciples did not plan.
“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).
Jesus did not enter Jerusalem on a prized stallion, as Greek and Roman commanders approached major cities.
Alexander the Great (356 – 323 BC) rode a handsome black horse named Bucephalus that he broke and tamed as a teenager. Bucephalus was fearless in demeanor and took Alexander into each of the battles of his many conquests, all the way to the borders of India.
No doubt every Israelite had witnessed at some time arrogant Roman occupiers of their homeland riding their prancing steeds.
Not so, Jesus. He rode an unbroken colt, the foal of a donkey. The animal immediately accepted Jesus as his master and let Him ride (Mark 11:2; Luke 19:30). A person who knows anything about the necessity to “break” a horse or a donkey before the animal can be ridden finds this part of the story simply astounding. Yes, Jesus is sovereign over nature.
Jesus went into Jerusalem, not as a conquering monarch, but as the humble servant of all (Mark 9:35). The contrast must have been very striking to the many witnesses.
The third prophecy was given by Jesus Himself:
“As [Jesus] approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two unnamed disciples, telling them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you…’” (Luke 19:29-30).
The story is recorded by Matthew (21:1-3), Mark (11:6-10), and Luke (19:28-31). Jesus the prophet stated eleven facts that had to happen in sequence in about an hour of time. If even one of these had been mistaken, Jesus’ credibility as a prophet would have been tarnished. But Jesus’ prophecies were perfect all the time.
- Jesus named the village where the series of facts would come together – Bethphage; no other village would work.
- “At once you will find” the animals, meaning they would be easy to locate.
- The disciples were not to look for the animals on the outskirts of the village, but “just as you enter” Bethphage.
- “You will find a donkey.” Without question, if they had found a horse with a colt, Jesus’ integrity as a prophet would have taken a negative hit.
- The donkey will be tied.
- The donkey will have her colt tied beside her.
- “Untie them” to “bring them to me,” Jesus said.
- The owner will be there.
- The owner will be a man, not a woman.
- Jesus went on to say if anyone says anything to you, tell him “the Lord needs them.”
- 11. The two disciples were asked just that question, “What are you doing untying that colt?” They “answered as Jesus had told them to.” The owner agreed to release them to Jesus and the people standing around watching nodded their consent as the scene unfolded.
The probability is surely astronomical that those eleven facts would happen on that day, in that sequence, in about an hour of time, in the little village of Bethphage.
Can you picture the awe on the faces of the ten disciples when they saw the two disciples coming down the road leading the donkeys? And would you like to have listened in when the two disciples told them Jesus was 100% perfect – again? Yes, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). Expressed another way, anything Jesus says carries with it the spirit of prophecy. This is true because Jesus is the living Word, the logos of God, who knows the end from the beginning (John 1:1; Isaiah 46:10).
12:16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize these things had been written about him and they had done these things to him.
Fulfilled prophecy is one of the very strong links that bonds tightly the Old Testament and the New Testament. Every prophecy is important, and that includes, of course, the Old Testament prophecies that refer to Jesus. When those prophecies continued to be fulfilled, prophecy-after-prophecy-after-prophecy, with no mistakes, people had to take notice and recognize something big was happening. The obvious conclusion was God was on the scene revealing His Son, and the Son was in the neighborhood revealing His Heavenly Father.
Jesus of Nazareth, who was both the Son of Man and the Son of God, was the monarch riding a donkey. His presence made it history’s greatest parade. And one day He is coming back to “to receive us to Himself” so that we can be where He is, for as long as eternity rolls.
I see the King of glory,
Coming on the clouds with fire.
The whole earth shakes.
The whole earth shakes.
I see His love and mercy
Washing over all our sin.
The people sing. The people sing
[Chorus] Hosanna, Hosanna,
Hosanna in the highest….
Hillsong United Lyrics
It is certainly probable after the Lord’s resurrection the owner of the donkeys came to understand the meaning of what occurred that morning. If he did, for the remainder of his life this friend of Jesus surely never tired telling how he loaned his donkey to Jesus to ride into Jerusalem.
Please consider carefully. The disciples did not plan the parade. If the disciples had organized the event, the charge would surely have been made they were trying to make prophecy happen and the integrity and influence of the prophecies would have been diminished.
The people, acting out of their affection for Jesus, in their free-will, turned Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem into a spontaneous parade that fulfilled the prophets’ predictions. In fact, all the participants in the events of Passion Week acted out of their free-will. No one was required by God, in the sense of being forced to fulfill scripture, to perform in pre-planned or predestined ways.
Please think carefully about it, dear reader. Prophecies that were fulfilled by a parade hundreds of years after the prophecies, without prior planning, gives compelling evidence of the identity of Jesus as God’s Son and witnesses to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in writing the Bible. Only Messiah, the Son of God, could link those two prophets and eleven distinct facts together in that fashion and each of them be fulfilled in that very short time span.
The parade itself is a striking proof, therefore, that Jesus is the Son of God.