In the final week of his life, Jesus, itinerant preacher and miracle worker comes to Jerusalem to celebrate what would be his last Passover. The people, knowing of his arrival, greet him in the streets. They lay palm branches before him as the donkey he is riding trods slowly up the street.
“Hosanna!”, they cry.
“Hosanna to the Son of David”, their cries acknowledging him as their rightful King and Messiah echo off the walls and cobblestones.
“Hosanna in the highest!” exalt the people of the Holy City.
We call it the Triumphal Entry. It is the start of Holy Week. We see it as full of rejoicing. I think it was more like coming home to be kissed by a cheating wife.
Imagine your a man. You work hard, pursue the woman of your dreams. You catch her. Every day, when you get up to go to work; it's for her. Every day you can't wait to get home; for her. Every day you work to make things the absolute best they can be for your beloved. Then, you discover she's cheating. Not once, not twice, but she's made a lifestyle out of cheating on you with whatever guy will have her.
You come home to her, knowing that she has probably been with some other guy that very day. She has broken every promise she has ever made to you. You're certain that the neighbors know, possibly even people at church. You are being humiliated in front of people daily. As you enter the house, she sweeps down the hallway towards you. She smiles that smile that still melts your heart. She rushes into your arms and pulls you close. Her lovely hair brushes past your face. You can smell the sweet smell of her perfume. Your heart races as she gently nuzzles you and her lips brush over your lips. It's all for her...
But you know that she cheats. As much as she adores you right now and as much as you have and would do simply to be with her she will, sooner or later, return to seeking pleasure with another man. Possibly even someone you know.
This is what the entry into Jerusalem was like for Jesus. Jerusalem, the city that God had chosen to make his dwelling place on Earth. It was home for the Almighty. The people of Jerusalem, of Israel, were his beloved; his betrothed. He had covenanted with them. They would be His people and He, the Creator of all that is or was or will ever be, would be their God. Yet God says of his beloved:
“Her sister Oholibah saw this, and she became more corrupt than her sister in her lust and in her whoring, which was worse than that of her sister. She lusted after the Assyrians, governors and commanders, warriors clothed in full armor, horsemen riding on horses, all of them desirable young men. And I saw that she was defiled; they both took the same way. But she carried her whoring further. She saw men portrayed on the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed in vermilion, wearing belts on their waists, with flowing turbans on their heads, all of them having the appearance of officers, a likeness of Babylonians whose native land was Chaldea. When she saw them, she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoring lust. And after she was defiled by them, she turned from them in disgust. When she carried on her whoring so openly and flaunted her nakedness, I turned in disgust from her, as I had turned in disgust from her sister. Yet she increased her whoring, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the whore in the land of Egypt and lusted after her paramours there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose issue was like that of horses. Thus you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians handled your bosom and pressed your young breasts.”
Ezek 23:11-21 (ESV)
Within days, Jerusalem who had greeted Jesus like the love of a young bride's life would be screaming for the Romans to crucify him. Instead, they wanted their other lover; Barabbas. He would give them what they wanted...
Jesus knew this as he rode into town. He knew what was coming. He knew that no matter how enthusiastic her love was now, that soon she would grow bored and seek another lover.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate.” (Matt 23:37-39 (ESV))
Notice the sarcasm in the last line, where he mocks her pleasing words: "39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’"
There is some call for rejoicing. He leaves his betrothed and wins a new one, a Bride that He will share eternity with. The Wedding Feast is yet to come, but we are called. “The Bride has made herself ready...”