LENTEN DEVOTION: The King Enters Jerusalem by Johann Ernst von Holst

Morning and Evening Devotions for the Holy Season of Lent

From The Crucified Is My Love

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.  Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it.

And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.  And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!  Hosanna in the highest!”

As he was drawing near – already on the way down the Mount of Olives – the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!  Peace in Heaven and glory in the highest!”  And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”  He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” (John 12:12-14; Mark 11:8-10; Luke 19:37-40)

While the Lord was in quiet Bethany there was tremendous excitement in Jerusalem.  Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims had come to celebrate the Passover, and the royal city, which was already crowded, was filled to overflowing.  One question filled the thoughts and conversations of all: Will the prophet of Nazareth, the great conqueror of death whom the council excommunicated, also come to the festival?  Will he dare to do so?  Then the news spread rapidly that he was already in Bethany and was preparing to enter Jerusalem.

His enemies were enraged, his followers encouraged, the indifferent were roused, and great and very mixed crowds set off for the Mount of Olives and waited for him in tense excitement.  The cry rang out: “There he is!”  The King of Peace came into sight at the top of the hill riding on a donkey, surrounded by his disciples and many other followers.  At the sight of him, reverence for this wonderful man of God, which was repressed till now, breaks forth with irresistible power in the crowded throng.  They recognize him as the promised Son of David, the longed-for Messiah King.  They spread their clothes in his path, break green branches from the palm trees and wave them joyfully in the air.  In this way they receive and accompany their great yet so unassuming King.  An enthusiasm from above takes possession of their souls.  They begin to sing songs of praise: “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”  These psalms spread from one throng to another: “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!  Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

The enthusiastic singing continues to ring out more and more powerfully right up to the gates of the capital city – indeed, right up into the temple precincts: “Hosanna to the king of Israel!  Peace in Heaven and glory in the highest!”

What a blessing might have dawned upon Israel that day if the whole nation had paid homage to its king and been faithful to him unto death!  But the higher the waves of the people’s joy rise, the fiercer grows the hatred of the enemies.  Standing by the roadside, they call out to the Lord in their exasperation, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”  He, however, accepts the people’s homage and rebuts these grim elders with the words, “If these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

But the populace is fickle while the hated of the adversary remains firm.  The king enters his city, but his crown will be a crown of thorns, and his throne the cross on Golgotha.

How do you, my soul, honor your King?  How are you, his church, accompanying your Savior on his way to death?  How are you keeping your pledge of loyalty?

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