Palm Sunday: Ride On in Majesty

On the first Sunday of Holy Week, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, and was hailed as the promised Messiah.  Often, ancient kings would ride into conquered cities on war horses.  However, when a king rode into a city on a donkey, he was saying, “I come in peace,” or “I come to bring peace.”

Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies, including this one from the prophet Zechariah:

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

[Zechariah 9:9].

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One of the eye-witnesses recorded that a “very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.”  There were crowds ahead of Jesus, and crowds behind him; and they all shouted, “Hosanna!”  Hosanna means “Save us!,” and it is also a cheer of victory or an “exclamation of praise.”  (Matthew 21:8-9 & NIV footnotes).

Ride on, ride on in majesty!
Hark!  All the tribes hosanna cry.
O Savior meek, pursue your road,
With palms and scattered garments strowed.

[“Ride On, Ride On in Majesty,” Christian Worship 133:1].

A former tax collector named Matthew was with Jesus when he rode in, and he recorded that when Jesus and the crowds “entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?’  The crowds answered, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.'”  (Matthew 21:10-11).  Nazareth and Galilee were where the poor people lived.

The pictures in this post are of Christian pilgrims celebrating Palm Sunday by processing from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem.

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Unfortunately, the citizens of Jerusalem in 33 A.D. did not want the Messiah to bring peace with God, but rather they wanted a king to bring war against the Romans.  When the people of Jerusalem realized that Jesus was not the king they wanted, they demanded that he be crucified.

Ride on, ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die.
O Christ, your triumphs now begin
O’er captive death and conquered sin.

Ride on, ride on in majesty!
The angel armies of the sky
Look down with sad and wondering eyes
To see th’ approaching sacrifice.

[“Ride On, Ride On in Majesty,” Christian Worship 133:2-3].

Christ knew that he would be rejected.  John, another eye-witness, recorded that Jesus had said, “I, when I am lifted up from the earth [crucified], will draw all men to myself.”   (John 12:32).

Jesus did not come to defeat the Roman Empire, but rather he came to defeat the power of sin, death, and the devil.  Sin, death, and the devil are the worst enemies that we have.  (No one cares about defeating the Romans anymore).  On the cross and through his Resurrection, Jesus defeated our true enemies.

Ride on, ride on in majesty!
Your last and fiercest strife is nigh.
The Father on his sapphire throne
Awaits his own anointed Son.

[“Ride On, Ride On in Majesty,” Christian Worship 133:4].

By conquering sin and death, Jesus the Christ deserves to reign over all creation forever.

You are worthy …
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God …

Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!

[Revelation 5:9-12].

Ride on, ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die.
Bow your meek head to mortal pain,
Then take, O Christ, your power and reign.

[“Ride On, Ride On in Majesty,” Christian Worship 133:5].