Links Daily Devotional

Triumphal Entry

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:12-13, ESV)

I have never attended a ticker tape parade, one of those grand affairs held to celebrate the return of a conquering hero. In New York City there have been 206 such parades, with the first in 1886 and the most recent in 2015.

Jesus’ entrance will be the most triumphant of all, eclipsing both in majesty and importance anything we can imagine.In all of those only one athlete has been honored individually with more than one parade—the golfer Bobby Jones. The first of those was in 1926 after he won The Open Championship, and the second was in 1930 after winning both The Amateur Championship at St. Andrews and The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, the first two legs of what would become known later that year as the Grand Slam.

Interestingly, the entry on Wikipedia about ticker tape parades says New York City began to hold them on “triumphal occasions.” I made that same connection when I was thinking about the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem the week before his crucifixion. That event is recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and is often called “the triumphal entry.”

Triumphal entries didn’t start with Jesus. They had probably been around since there had been returning heroes, with the Romans using them at least as effectively as the fathers of New York City. But the similarities of those events—Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem, Jones riding in an open convertible into the heart of New York City, and a Roman general riding in a chariot (or perhaps on a white horse) into Rome—should not be lost on us.

Bobby Jones had conquered the world of golf, the general had conquered some other militant, and Jesus had conquered completely. In New York ticker tape was streamed from the windows of skyscrapers, in Rome the people scattered flower petals, and in Jerusalem the people laid down their cloaks and palm branches—a mark of honor and respect to a triumphant king.

In all cases there is recognition, in all cases there is honor, in all cases there is acceptance of that honor and recognition. But only in the case of Jesus does the honoree know that this is the beginning of the end. Only days later the triumphant King would be so beaten and battered that he would fall under the weight of the beam he carried, his walk out of the city, apparently defeated, in sharp contrast with his ride in.

At the appointed time, though, that same King will return. His entrance will be the most triumphant of all, eclipsing both in majesty and importance anything we can imagine.

That is one I will attend, and thinking about Jesus riding into Jerusalem gets me excited for that day.

Lewis Greer
April 10, 2017
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