28After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 32So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34They said, “The Lord needs it.” 35Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. 37As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” 39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” 40He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
41As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. 44They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”
We have seen the entry into Jerusalem, Palm Sunday, from John’s viewpoint, and Matthew’s; I want us also to look at Luke’s story. There is a point in Luke where Jesus “turns his face toward Jerusalem”, sets out on the journey that culminates with this entry into the city and the events that follow. Thus, Luke is continuing that thread when he says “Jesus went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.” During that journey he has also told the disciples several times what will happen there. And so, Jesus enters the city to the cheers and waving palm branches, knowing he will be going to his death.
Unlike Matthew, Luke does not explain why Jesus rode a donkey’s colt; the quote from Zechariah is not included. But the people spread their cloaks on the road before him, and cut branches and waved them, and put them down along the road – only John actually says they were palm branches, but it is a good likelihood that they were, as the people went quickly and cut them. And they shouted words from a Psalm, Psalm 118, a hymn of royal entry; again, it was a Psalm used for a victorious Davidic king returning to Jerusalem. And in the midst of the joyous crowd, the Pharisees standing by frowned, and said, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
That is something we must remember – God allows us to be a part of his plan, to shout hosanna, and welcome the king. But God is not dependent on us – if we do not welcome him, even the rocks can take our place. My friend and professor, Bob Tuttle, used to say, “Ain’t no rock gonna take my place!”
And as he entered Jerusalem, he wept over the city. For she would not know her God, the gift he sent her on that day, or the things that make for peace, and in coming years she would be crushed. Many of those present that day would see the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
The photo is Jerusalem today, seen from the Mount of Olives.