Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
(Matthew 21:1-11 ESV)
Today we conclude the story of Jesus’ coming into Jerusalem a week before His crucifixion. This is known as “The Triumphal Entry”.
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey He was fulfilling a prophecy [Zechariah 9:9]. But Jesus’ entry fulfilled another Old Testament prophecy and this one is even more amazing.
God had revealed to Daniel that there would be 483 years from the day the decree was to be given to rebuild the city of Jerusalem until the Messiah entered that city [Daniel 9:25-26]. Nehemiah recorded this decree as happening on March 14, 445 BC (according to our modern calendar) by King Artaxerces of Persia [Nehemiah 2:1-8]. Using a 360-day calendar (which is what the Jews used) we see that there would be 173,880 days (483 * 360) between these two events.
This would place the events of today’s passage on April 6, 32 AD which is the precise day Jesus entered Jerusalem. We know this from calculations using other calendar references [Luke 3:1 et. al].
This is the most amazing prophecy in the Bible. Jesus entered Jerusalem on the exact day God predicted He would some 550 years earlier! It was precise prophecies like this one that made me wonder if my dismissal of the Bible as a hoax was unwarranted and had much to do with me giving up atheism in exchange for following Christ. But this is exactly why God put these prophecies in the Bible – to prove it was written by Him.
The commotion surrounding Jesus’ entry stirred up the whole city. Many did not know who Jesus was as He had spent most of His life in Galilee. Those who had heard of Him simply thought He was a prophet from Nazareth. Such a statement could not have made much of an impression on people as Nazareth was not a highly respected town to say the least [John 1:46].
The question people asked, “Who is this?” is the most important question any person can ask. There are basically three views of Jesus, which we previously studied. One can conclude that Jesus was a good teacher and nothing more, as most of the population of Israel did. One can conclude that Jesus was a fraud as the religious leaders did.
Or one can conclude that Jesus was God on earth as a small handful of people eventually believed. It is only with this conclusion – which is the right conclusion based on the evidence and Jesus’ own claims – that can lead one to repentance and the receipt of forgiveness for one’s sins [John 3:16; Acts 16:31, et. al].
It is only with such forgiveness that one can enter heaven. Anyone whose sins are not forgiven will be excluded from God’s presence for all of eternity. Sadly, only a very small percentage of people who ever live will arrive at this conclusion and have their sins forgiven [Matthew 7:13-14].
Jesus entered Jerusalem about 2,000 years ago. One day He will return to the city and from there He will reign over the earth for 1,000 years before the Final Judgment.
At that time everyone – alive and dead – will have their eternal destiny determined. That determination is going to depend upon whether or not you have properly responded to Jesus’ first appearance on this earth.
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