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Holman Bible Dictionary

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The entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem on the Sunday prior to His crucifixion. Due to the fact that palm branches were placed before Him, this day is often called “Palm Sunday.” The event is recorded in Matthew 21:1-9; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-38; John 12:12-15. All accounts agree in substance with each adding certain detail. Whether by prearrangement or by divine foreknowledge, the disciples found a colt in Bethphage as Jesus had described (Matthew ties the account closely to Zechariah's prophecy (John 9:9), mentioning the colt and its mother.) It is likely that Christ rode the donkey for the more difficult part of the journey, transferring to the colt upon actually entering Jerusalem. There a large crowd applauded Him, spreading the road with their garments and with branches. They acknowledged Him as the son of David.

The triumphal entry is of vital significance in understanding the messianic mission of Jesus. Prior to this moment, Jesus had refused to allow any public acknowledgement of His being the Messiah. By conducting His ministry outside Jerusalem, He had avoided further intensification of conflict with the Jewish religious leaders. Now, however, the time was at hand. The opponents of Jesus understood the strong messianic implications of the manner of His entry into Jerusalem. The riding upon the colt, the garments and palm branches in the road, and the shouts of the multitude—all of this pointed to Jesus as the Messiah. When He was urged to quiet the people, Jesus replied, “If these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19:40 NAS).

Ironically, though the triumphal entry was a public acceptance of being the Messiah and presented a direct challenge to His enemies, it must have been a disappointment to many of His followers. Christ did not enter Jerusalem upon a war horse of conquest but upon a colt representing humility. As a result, the religious leaders demanded His crucifixion, while the multitudes ultimately turned away with indifference. See Jesus, Life and Ministry; Messiah.

Steve Echols

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'TRIUMPHAL ENTRY'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".
<>. 1991.


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