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The Messiah Enters Jerusalem

 

- Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

St. Matthew’s account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is filled with details that betray his intentions; namely, this account is offered as one more proof that Jesus is the Messiah, the one who was to come according to the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Jesus rides into Jerusalem on this occasion. Pilgrims walked. Kings arrived on various beasts of burden.

The chosen mode of transportation is that of an unbroken or an unridden colt of an ass. This fulfills the prophecy of Zechariah which St. Matthew quotes.

Jesus requests the use of an animal that is not his. It was a generally accepted custom for a king or a military leader to commandeer the use of such a beast.

Jesus approaches Jerusalem from the East, from Bethphage. The prophecy indicates that the Messiah would ride into Jerusalem from the East with the sun at his back.

The people respond to his entry by covering the ground with palm fronds and their cloaks. This was done to keep the dust from being raised which could obscure the sight of him as he entered Jerusalem.

Matthew changes the salutation which had been recorded by Mark before him to indicate that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Davidic dynasty.

While we celebrate this on the Sunday before Good Friday, it probably took place at the Feast of Booths or Feast of Tabernacles. The Gospel does not indicate exactly when it took place. However, the scene that is “painted” by the evangelists is in keeping with the celebration of this Holy Day. Our celebration of the triumphant entry makes it clear that the sacrifice of Calvary is actually the fulfillment of the triumph. Jesus is exalted to the throne of David because of his willingness to die for the sake of our sins.

 

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