Felix Louis Leullier, 1811
All four gospel accounts record Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem during the Passover on the first Sunday of Passion week, where the crowds readily welcomed Him spreading their cloaks and palm branches on the road before Him. All four accounts also show the crowd quoting Psalm 118:26, which was unarguably a Messianic Psalm, but whose meaning had been confused as a ritualistic welcome for all pilgrims. Thus, the Truth of Christ was hidden in plain sight, as the crowds saw what they wanted to see in Jesus – a fact attested to the wide range of acclamations recorded from the crowd.
Matthew: “And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" (Mat 21:9-10)
Matthew, unlike the other gospels reveals what a large event this was stating literally “the largest crowd of all” came out to acclaim Jesus (Nolland, 838)1. As they went, the crowd called Jesus “the Son of David,” a title which scholars are uncertain as to why Matthew prefers to use over the term “Christ” for Jesus' messianic role (Matthew 9:27, 15:22, 20:30-31, 21:9+15, and possibly 12:23). Since his audience was Jewish the term may be a less offensive way of asking them to contemplate the matter as “merely point[ing] to that [messianic] hope as something which Jesus may (or may not) be connected” (Nolland, 683).
Mark: “And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:9-10)
Mark accounts the same scene on the road to Jerusalem, but after the Psalmic invitation adds words not found in Psalm 118. The crowds add a second blessing, “but now in place of a person it is a kingdom whose arrival is greeted” (France, 434).2 Thus the crowds see Jesus as one who has come to “usher in the promised kingdom of his great royal father” David (Howell, 275), but “the kingdom of David has an altogether more political and nationalistic ring” (France, 434). This seems to indicate the crowd had high expectations of Christ not as a suffering servant who came to be a spiritual savior in order to usher in a heavenly kingdom, but as a military king who would overthrow their Roman oppressors and reestablish the nation of Israel.
Luke: “As he was drawing near--already on the way down the Mount of Olives--the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" (Luke 19:37-38)
Luke's account of the triumphal entry makes several modifications for his Greek audience by removing Hebrew terms and titles. Thus, Christ is acclaimed as the King in the name of the Lord instead of “Son of David.” Strikingly, Luke (a Gentile himself) reapplies the Jewish pilgrimage greeting in its historical form, as a welcome “greeting addressed to the king as he approached the temple to worship God” (Marshall, 715)3. Furthermore, the Hebrew name “Hosanna” is omitted in lieu of a loose translation in the form of a chorus of praise similar to the one at Jesus birth.
John: “So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" (John 12:13) Psalm 118:25, 26
John gives the shortest account of Christ's entry, but shares Luke's thought by applying the title “King of Israel” to Jesus as the king proceeding to worship. However, unlike Luke, John did not omit the Hebrew title Hosanna with its Messianic imagery. However, John makes up for his shortened account of the acclamation with an extended commentary on why the crowd gathered in the first place. Apparently the crowd that saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead spread news of the miracle and many people came to see Jesus the miracle worker. Thus, John also shows that the crowds at Jerusalem, in their own way, were just like the disciples in that “they did not understand all this...” (John 12:16) even as the enacted parable took place right before their eyes.
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