37 And when he was already nearing the road leading down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples, rejoicing, began to praise God with a loud voice regarding all the powerful works they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the one coming–the King–in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” 39 And certain of the Pharisees from the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” 40 And answering, he said, “I say to you, if they should keep silent, the stones will cry out.”
Amid the crowds of people making pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover, Jesus makes his way, riding on a donkey, surrounded by his disciples. It’s clear to those who recognize the Messianic symbolism (especially with regard to Zecharaiah 9:9), and who see the significance of this event, that it’s a time for celebration. With echoes of Psalm 118:26, Jesus’s followers announce his arrival: the King, coming in the name of the Lord. The words of the disciples “bookend” Jesus’s birth: “Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” As the angels announced the coming of the Messiah into the world with “peace on earth” and “glory in the highest” (Luke 2:14), so here the disciples announce the coming of the Messiah into Jerusalem, and to Calvary. “Glory in the highest” marked the beginning of Jesus’s mission, and here, at the end, those words carry forward: “Glory in the highest”–all for the glory of God. His birth brought the peace of God to earth, to those upon whom God’s favor rests. Now his death will bring peace in heaven, the peace of God as sinful men are reconciled to Him. In his death, Jesus will take the wrath of God for sinners upon Himself, and instead they will know peace with God.
The Pharisees in the crowd, hearing the exaltation of the disciples, are unnerved. They know Zecharaiah 9:9 as well as the rest of them. They order Jesus to silence their tongues from the praise and worship they are offering on behalf of the King riding into Jerusalem. But Jesus refuses. This is a momentous occasion that must be marked. Either the voices of men will cry out, or the stones will: creation must respond. This is, after all, the beginning of creation’s redemption. The whole created order has been longing for the day when the Messiah will make his final journey to Jerusalem, so that through his death and resurrection, the bondage to sin and decay might be broken (Romans 8:19-23).
The Triumphal Entry is certainly a fulfillment of prophecy. But it’s so much more. It’s a reminder that the horror about to come upon Jesus–betrayal, abandonment, injustice, humiliation, and crucifixion–is for a grand and glorious purpose. In Christ, God will glorify Himself through that sacrificial, atoning death, and the resurrection three days later. His name will be exalted through the countless souls restored to love and serve their Creator through the forgiveness of sins gained on the cross.
May we add our voices to those of the disciples this week: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” Have a great week.