And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?” And the crowds replied, “This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.” Matthew 21:10–11
As Jesus entered Jerusalem, just four short days before He would be arrested, He was received with great joy. As He entered, riding a donkey, the crowds spread their cloaks, strewed palm branches before Him and cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest” (Mt. 21:9). Jesus was the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and He was given a Kingly welcome.
Jerusalem itself was the place of the Temple where so many of the ancient kings of Israel offered sacrifice to God. Year after year, decade after decade, and century after century, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies within the Temple to offer sacrifice to God. However, little did anyone know that as Jesus entered Jerusalem, the entire city became the new Temple and Jesus became the final and definitive Priest. He entered this new Holy of Holies as a King and Priest, and He died as the Sacrificial Lamb. He was greeted with shouts of “Hosanna” only to soon hear “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”
What a turn of emotions. What a contrast of experiences. What a shock to the minds and hearts of all of His first followers. How could this be? How could something so glorious become so painful in such a short amount of time? From an earthly perspective, what would soon follow made no sense, but from a divine perspective, it was the beginning of the most glorious act ever known.
The evil one certainly watched in hatred and jealousy as Jesus, the Eternal Son of the Father, was given this glorious reception by these sons and daughters of God. The envy of the evil one was so great that it became alive and manifest in the souls of some of the religious leaders, in the betrayal of one of the Apostles, in the actions of the civil authorities and in the confused emotions of the crowds. The vile, frightful, forceful and definitive attack on our Lord would soon begin now that He was welcomed into the city of Jerusalem to begin the Feast of Passover. Who could have known that on that Passover the Lamb of Sacrifice would be our Lord Himself.
In our own lives, we often do all we can to avoid even the slightest amount of sacrifice. But sacrifice is capable of the greatest good when united to the one Sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus entered Jerusalem with perfect determination to begin the Sacrifice that would conquer sin and death and defeat the evil one. And that is exactly what He did.
Reflect, today, upon how willing you are to embrace sacrifice in your own life. No, your sacrifices are not able to save the world by their own merit, but if you face your crosses in life, be they big or small, and if you intentionally and wholeheartedly unite them to the actions of Jesus that first Holy Week, then you can be certain that you will suffer with our Lord. But you can also be certain that your suffering will be transformed by the power of this Holy Week and lead you to a glorious sharing in His triumph over all sin and suffering. Sacrifice yourself with our Lord this Holy Week so that you, too, will rise victorious with our Lord.
My glorious Lord, I cry out to You, “Hosanna!” You are the King, the High Priest, and the Spotless Lamb of Sacrifice. As I enter into this Holy Week, enable me to walk with You and to offer my own life as a sacrifice in union with Your own perfect Sacrifice. May Your Holy Week transcend time and permeate every aspect of my life so that, as I die with You, I may also share in the glory of Your Resurrection. Jesus, I trust in You.