“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, crying out,
‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!’”
Reading this account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, just days before His crucifixion, I’m suddenly seeing more clearly the Jews’ hope and expectation of His coming.
So often we (myself included) can be a bit unfeeling towards them, saying they just didn’t understand why He came and thinking they should have trusted more and heard Jesus’ words more clearly.
But today I find myself focusing on what their lives had been. These people were living under great oppression. They were the people of God, yet their God had been largely silent for generations. Living day by day under the harsh rule of the Roman Empire, they longed for freedom, for their lives to be their own. The promise of the Messiah was their hope—the promise that one day, the God of Israel would send His chosen one to free them, to save them, to deliver His people. One day He would come and reign, creating Jerusalem—their beloved city—to be a joy and her people to be a gladness as He makes all things new.
Burdened by the Roman authorities, of course these men and women and children rejoiced to see the Messiah. Finally, salvation has come to Israel. Finally, they see that God has not forgotten them. He has not abandoned His people. Prophecies are coming true—their God is actually fulfilling His Word before their eyes! Could it be—could they truly see the foretold deliverance of Israel? Will they be the generation finally freed from all oppression and see their King come in glory and might?
They didn’t understand…but of course they didn’t. The prophecies about the Lord’s chosen one suffering, dying, enduring anguish and grief—they seem to contradict those of His eternal reign. And how often, when something doesn’t seem to fit, do we push aside whatever detail we can’t wrap our minds around and focus instead on what makes sense to us?
Israel longed for a Savior—a King to rescue them from their difficult, oppressive circumstances.
What heartbreaking shock they must have felt to then be faced with those Scriptures they had put aside. To see those prophecies fulfilled. How difficult it must have been to try and process the reality of why Jesus came: not to judge the world, not this time, but to save it. To draw all people to Himself, Jews and Gentiles (including the Romans they hoped to escape), not through a dominant rule but through the sacrifice of Himself.
The Jews longed for tangible, physical deliverance. What Jesus came to accomplish went much deeper. Deliverance from sin, fear, and the power of darkness forever. He brought light to our dark world and came to reconcile us to God our Healer, our Provider, our Comfort, our Joy, our Peace. Jesus did bring salvation and freedom, but it was the salvation and freedom of our very souls. He came to change our lives that we may reflect His character and display the glory of His grace.
One day, Jesus our Messiah will come a second time, and we will see the fulfilling of the remaining prophecies. He will judge the nations. He will reign on high. Before Him every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Darkness will be gone and there will be no more night—because the light of the glory of our God will be unceasing. Every tear will be wiped away. Every wrong atoned for. Fear and oppression, sickness and death will be no more. The curse of sin, every effect, will be gone, for everything will be made new.
This moment in time, from Jesus’ first coming to the second, is God’s patience before our eyes. His glorious grace, evident in His continued ransoming of people for Himself.
He’s still drawing us. Jesus was lifted up so all who look to Him would be saved, and that extends to us—far beyond what the people in that day could have imagined. God is still saving and delivering His people, still speaking and showing His power in the midst of a dark world.
When we find ourselves in a season from which we ache for deliverance, may we recall Jesus’ first coming. God is on Your side. He is fighting for you. He does save. But His deliverance may look far different than what we long for in the moment. He is still good. He is still saving. He is still here. He has not forgotten or abandoned you. Perhaps, through this season, He is drawing people—you and those whose lives you touch—to Himself. Keep trusting. Keep taking refuge in Him. Keep reminding yourself of His promises, and know that He will not fail you.
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance…But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation” 2 Peter 3:9, 13-15
“Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”