12 The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—
the King of Israel!’
14Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:
15 ‘Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.
Look, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!’
16His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him. 17So the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to testify. 18It was also because they heard that he had performed this sign that the crowd went to meet him. 19The Pharisees then said to one another, ‘You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!’
There are 21 Chapters in the Gospel of John – at Chapter 12, we have entered the final week of Jesus’ life. John will go much more slowly, and in greater detail, through events of this week, and the trial, crucifixion, and resurrection, than he has up till now. This is the story he came to tell!
Many people came to Passover in Jerusalem; it was one of those times when everyone went to worship at the temple. And now all those people hear that Jesus is coming into the city. And so, a crowd takes branches from palm trees and go down to meet him. (This is different from the other gospels, where it was Jesus’ own followers who put their cloaks in front of him and shout – and John is the only gospel that mentions palm branches.) They shout “Hosannah! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord – the king of Israel!” Once again, the crowd wishes to make Jesus king! Do they believe he is coming to start a revolution?
And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as a fulfillment of the prophecy. His disciples did not understand at the time; later, they would look back and remember. For now, those who had been there when he raised Lazarus from the tomb, shouted and testified – and the crowd went out to meet him because they had heard about this sign.
Up until this point, the author has talked about the “signs” that Jesus did – the miracles he performed. Some people believed because of the miracles, and followed Jesus; others believed for a time, but demanded more; and some failed to believe at all. The Pharisees, in fact, are frightened, “Look, the world has gone after him!” They fear the disruption will get the attention of the Romans; they fear a loss of position; they fear change; they fear Jesus.
Where are we in that scheme? Do we see the miracles Jesus works in our lives, and follow him, and learn and grow in him? Or do we follow for a time, then demand more? or do we fail to believe at all? Or, are we, like the Pharisees, frightened when we really see Jesus? When he demands change, when he demands that we re-think our way of living in the world, do we fear him?