Palm Sunday: The Return of the King

Luke 19:28-44

The events of the past few weeks have been met with differing responses. Only time will tell which approach was right. Momentous events, often call for a choice, and response and the outcome affect so much.

Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem has the ironic look of a king riding on a donkey. But it is a reminder, that God’s king does not look as we might expect, his victory may not appear as we think it might.

“Luke’s triumphal procession is a true “comedy”—a story that begins in tragedy and ends in triumph. It is, moreover, a “divine comedy,” the story not simply of Jesus’ royal entry into Jerusalem, but the return of the king, who in David fled Jerusalem in defeat and sorrow, and in the “son of David” (18:38) enters Jerusalem in triumph and joy.”[1]

Jesus’ unusual entrance into Jerusalem, is against the background of the fulfilment of the Old Testament. The crowd sing Psalm 118:26, a psalm which speaks of pilgrimage to the holy city, His ridding on a colt is the fulfilment Zecheriah 9:9.

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. (Zech. 9:9)

This humbled entrance, is then the entrance of a king, the return of the Davidic king to Jerusalem, and to the temple. Jesus’ instructions, whether supernaturally ordained or simply prearranged, shows that it is Jesus’ full intention to entre Jerusalem as God’s chosen king come to his people to bring salvation.

We are not told, nor should we presume to know, the integrity of the crowd’s response, however, we do see the rejection of the religious officials. This rejection turns a moment of salvation into one of judgement. The Pharisees, see the response of the crowd as something that Jesus should be rebuking (v. 39), but the king coming to his people is something that even if the people were not to praise God for creation itself would (v. 40). Those who reject God’s king are then themselves rejected;

“Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” (v. 41)

Jesus prophesies the fall of Jerusalem (vv. 42-44). A day of Salvation, God’s king returning to his people, has become a day of judgement, Not because the king came in judgement, he came in salvation, but because this king riding on a donkey if rejected, judgement will fall on those who reject him.

Palm Sunday was the coming of God’s king to Jerusalem, his people. But such a coming leaves us with a challenge. Even now he comes to us, will we bow the knee to him and worship him? Or will a day of peace be hidden from us, as we reject him?

Almighty and everlasting God, who in your tender love towards mankind sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to become man and to suffer death upon the cross so that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility, help us to both follow the example of his patience and also share in his resurrection, through Jesus Christ our Lord. 


[1] Edwards, J.R., 2015. The Gospel according to Luke D. A. Carson, ed., Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Apollos.



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