The True King Comes to Jerusalem
"On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord." (John 12:12–13)
[Scroll down to the bottom of this post for my translations of the Palm Sunday texts]
Christians around the world begin their observance of Holy Week by marking Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which, according to the relative time markers found in Mark, took place one week before Easter (see Appendix B). All four Gospels paint a similar picture of crowds—though perhaps these were just the excited, gathered disciples of Jesus—welcoming Jesus into the holy city with shouts of praise and the waving of tree branches as he descended the symbolically significant Mount of Olives. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since 2004 and a member of the First Presidency from 2008 to 2018, wrote the following about this event: “Perhaps the disciples thought this was a turning point—the moment when the Jewish world would finally recognize Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah. But the Savior understood that many of the shouts of praise and acclamation would be temporary. He knew that soon He would ascend to the Mount of Olives and there, alone in Gethsemane, take upon Himself the sins of the world.” Jesus’s knowledge of his coming suffering and sacrifice makes this event a fitting point to begin our formal observance of Passion Week.
While Jesus’s trial, suffering, and death lay ahead, the triumphal entry was one of the few times during his ministry when Jesus was recognized as the Messiah he actually was. Indeed, beyond its immediate significance, it was also a foreshadowing of his glorious return as King of kings and Lord of lords (see Rev 19:16). In this respect, the triumphal entry is the first of his acts in what we are calling the kingly portion of Holy Week that followed his anointing by Mary of Bethany. A second act that exemplified his royal authority followed soon afterward, at least in Matthew and Luke, when Jesus ascended to the temple and demonstrated his authority there by casting out the merchants and moneylenders whom the temple authorities had allowed to set up their stalls and tables in the sacred courts. Both these episodes can be categorized as “prophetic signs” or symbolic, dramatic enactments in the tradition of Old Testament prophecy. Drawing upon Zechariah 9 and Psalm 118, the triumphal entry illustrated that Jesus was the Son of David, the rightful king of Israel. Jesus’s actions in the temple, with an important reference to Jeremiah 7 and allusions to Zechariah 12‒13, were calculated to demonstrate that as the true king Jesus came to judge Israel, entering Jerusalem and the temple to assert his position, disputing the authority of those who had arguably usurped and wrongly exercised it.
|With my daughter Rachel in the Jerusalem Palm Sunday procession on April 1, 2012|
Palm Sunday is celebrated in many Christian churches as a chance to recall one of the few times Jesus' mortal ministry when he was recognized as the True King he really way, to demonstrate our acceptance as our King in our own lives, and to anticipate with joy his promised return when he will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. Since the fourth century, it has been celebrated with particular enthusiasm in Jerusalem, where pilgrims assemble at a church in Bethphage, where Jesus is believed to have mounted a donkey, and then process with singing and palm branches down the Mount of Olives as his followers did the week before Easter.
|With Elaine and our son Samuel, April 2022|
- Triumphal Entry (Mark 11:1–10; Matt 21:1–11; Luke 19:28–40; John 12:12–19)
- Jesus’s first lament over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41–44)
- Jesus and the temple (Mark 11:11; Matt 21:12–17; Luke 19:45–48)
Suggestions for Latter-day Saints
- If using an Easter wreath, light the purple candle.
- Read Mark 11:1‒11 and John 12:12‒19 together, perhaps using our translation from https://erichuntsman.com/Huntsman_holy_week_scripture_selections_translation.pdf
- Watch the Bible video, “The Lord’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.”
- Read about and then sing “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” (Hymns, no. 69) and perhaps “Hosanna” (Children’s Songbook, 66‒67).
- Watch the music video Tell Me the Stories of Jesus, arranged by Ryan Murphy and performed by the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, noting the extra verse about the Triumphal Entry.
- Discuss what it meant for Jesus to have been “the anointed king” and what it will be like when he comes again in glory.
Ideas, Traditions, and Activities for Younger Children
- Charles Colson et al., “Palm Sunday: Praising the King,” Christ in Easter, [1‒16]
- Janet and Joe Hales, A Christ-Centered Easter, 6, 18‒19, 26
- Wendee Wilcox Rosborough, The Holy Week for Latter-day Saint Families, 1‒7
Some Inspiring Art
- Carl Bloch, Cleansing the Temple
- Harold Copping, Hosanna to the Son
- James Tissot, The Foal of Bethphage, The Procession on the Mount of Olives, The Procession in the Streets of Jerusalem, and The Merchants Chased from the Temple
- Harry Anderson, Triumphal Entry
- Minerva Teichert, Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem
- Walter Rane, Triumphal Entry of Christ
- Liz Lemon Swindle, Triumphal Entry
- “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” (Hymns, no. 69)
- “Hosanna” (Children’s Songbook, 66–67)
- “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus” (Children’s Songbook, 57), adding the additional verse about the Triumphal Entry (see https://hymnary.org/text/tell_me_the_stories_of_jesus_i_love_to), especially as arranged by Ryan Murphy on Teach Me to Walk in the Light
- BrookeFraser, “Hosanna,” especially as performed by Marantha! Music
The Triumphal Entry: Mark 11:1–10; Matthew 21:1–9; John 12:12–19; Luke 19:41‒44
The earliest account of the triumphal entry comes from Mark, which begins that Gospel’s “third act,” the climax in Jerusalem with what was, in effect, a prophetic enactment demonstrating that he was the true King of Israel. Matthew and Luke largely follow Mark’s version, but we have also provided Matthew’s account because of that evangelist’s particular use of the prophecies of Zechariah. The Johannine account also appears here because it is what gives Palm Sunday its name (see John 12:13). It also notes the effect that Jesus’ reception had on his opponents, galvanizing their violent opposition to him (12:19). Finally, Luke differs from the other Synoptics in that he adds a lament over Jerusalem by Jesus even as he approaches the city, adding a note of sadness or passion to an otherwise joyful episode.
See the discussion in Greater Love Hath No Man, 36–42.
1When they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethany and Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, he sent ahead two of his disciples, 2and he said to them, “Go to the village facing you, and right as you enter it, you will find a colt tied up, upon which a man has never sat. Untie it and bring it. 3If someone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it,’ and right away he will send it back here.” 4So they went and found the colt tied up near a doorway, outside in the street, and they untied it. 5Some of the people who were standing there said to them, “What are you doing untying the colt?” 6They said to them just what Jesus had told them, and they gave them permission. 7Then they brought the colt to Jesus and put their cloaks on it, and Jesus took his seat on it. 8Many people spread out their cloaks on the road, and others, after they had cut leafy branches in the fields, spread them out. 9And both those who were going ahead and those who were following kept crying,
Blessed is he who is coming in the name of the Lord!
10 Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming!
Hosanna in the highest heavens!”
In addition to refining the wording of Mark’s original material, Matthew also added the additional lines that appear in italics.
1When they drew near to Jerusalem and had entered Bethany on the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent out two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go ahead into the village that is facing you, and right away, you will find a donkey tied and a colt with her. After you have untied them, bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, you will say that the Lord needs them. Then right away he will send them.” 4This happened that what had been spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying,
5 “Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Look, your king is coming,
unassuming and having taken his seat on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”
6After the disciples had gone and done just as Jesus had ordered them, 7they brought the donkey and the colt, laid their cloaks on them, and he took his seat upon them. 8Then a very large crowd spread their own cloaks in the road, and others cut branches from trees and began to spread them in the road. 9And the crowds that were going ahead of him and those that were following kept crying out, saying,
“Hosanna to the Son of David,
blessed is the one who is coming in the name of the Lord,
hosanna in the highest heavens!”
Blessed is the one who is coming in the name of the Lord,
the King of Israel!”
14Then Jesus, after he had found a young donkey, took his seat on it, just as it is written,
15 “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming,
sitting on the foal of a donkey.”
16His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and they had done these things for him. 17The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead kept testifying. 18It was for this reason that the crowd went out to meet him, because they had heard that he had performed this miraculous sign. 19So the Pharisees said to each other, “Do you see that you are not accomplishing anything? Look, the world has gone after him!”
41Yet as he approached, when he saw the city, he grieved over it, 42saying, “If you, even you, had realized on this day what would have brought you peace! But as it is, it has been concealed from your eyes. 43Because the days are coming upon you when your enemies will throw up a siege-work around you, and encircle you, and press you hard on every side, 44and they will raze you to the ground and your children with you, and they will not leave one stone on top of another within you because you did not recognize the moment of your visitation.”
For a discussion of these passages, see my original Palm Sunday post at https://huntsmanseasonal.blogspot.com/2017/04/palm-sunday.html
Jesus and the Temple (Mark 11:11; Matt 21:12–17; Luke 19:47–48)
Mark’s account has Jesus enter Jerusalem, ascend to the temple, and simply look around before returning to Bethany to spend the night. While Mark delays his discussion of the temple incident until the next day for symbolic reasons, Matthew, paralleled by Luke, places Jesus’s cleansing of the temple directly after the triumphal entry, using it to demonstrate his authority to judge its so-called authorities, alluding to the prophecies of Jeremiah and again to Zechariah in the process. Matthew adds the details that Jesus followed the cleansing of the temple with miraculous healings, which led children to praise him as the Son of David.
See the discussion in Greater Love Hath No Man, 36–42.
11Then he entered Jerusalem and came into the temple, and when he had looked around at everything, because it was already evening, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
10When he had entered Jerusalem, the entire city was in commotion, saying, “Who is this?” 11The crowds kept saying, “This is the prophet, Jesus of Nazareth in Galilee!” 12And Jesus went into the temple and cast out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13And he said to them, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a lair of bandits!’”
14Then the blind and lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15Yet when the chief priests and the experts at the law saw the amazing things that he was doing and [heard] the children in the temple crying out and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. 16So they said to him, “Do you hear what they are saying?” Jesus said, “Yes indeed! Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and those who are nursing I have prepared praise?’” 17After he had left them, he went out of the city to Bethany, and he spent the night there.
47Now Jesus was daily teaching in the temple. The chief priests and the experts the law, however, kept seeking to destroy him, as did the leaders of the people. 48Nevertheless, they could not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.
|Carl Bloch, The Cleansing of the Temple|
 Gulevich, “Palm Sunday,” Encyclopedia of Easter, Carnival, and Lent, 431‒41; Huntsman, God So Loved the World, 7‒9.
 Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Way of the Disciple,” Ensign, May 2009, 75.
 Huntsman, God So Loved the World, 133‒35, and chapter 1, page 31, above.
 John Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005), 837, 844; Thomas A. Wayment, “The Triumphal Entry,” in From the Transfiguration through the Triumphal Entry, ed. Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Thomas A. Wayment, vol. 2, The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2006), 399‒400.
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