When the Israelites were traveling through the wilderness with Moses, God gave them many instructions. One of these was to remember the amazing things He had done for them. The way He gave them to remember was by celebrating special holidays each year. Of all the holidays, Passover, the dinner that reminded them of how God rescued them from Egypt, was the most important.
Most families wouldn’t just celebrate Passover at home. They would go to a special place where they could worship God. When the Israelites traveled in the wilderness together, they would all worship God at the Tabernacle, and then celebrate the Passover dinner.
When there was a house of God in Shiloh, Hannah and Elkanah traveled there every year from their hometown, to celebrate Passover together.
Every year Jesus’ family would travel to Jerusalem for Passover. Everyone would worship God at the Temple, then celebrate together before returning home. Jerusalem would become incredibly crowded at this time, as people from all over Israel arrived ahead of time, to get ready for the celebration.
When Jesus and His disciples were just about to enter Jerusalem for His last Passover, He told two of them to walk toward the city ahead of him.
“I want you to go into the next village, just outside the city’s gates,” He said. “You will see two donkeys tied up outside a house, a mother and her son. I want you to untie them both and bring them to Me.”
The disciples looked at Jesus in confusion, imagining what might happen if they just walked into town and took two donkeys that didn’t belong to them.
“Don’t worry,” Jesus assured them. “If anyone says anything to you, just tell them, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and they will let you take them.”
Jesus wanted to do this because the prophet Zechariah had written hundreds of years earlier that God would send a humble King riding on a young donkey, because in those days a king entering a city on a horse was there to take over, while a king entering a city on a donkey was there to bring peace.
The disciples followed Jesus’ instructions and went into the village just outside of Jerusalem. They found the two donkeys just like Jesus said they would. They brought the donkeys and laid some of their clothes on the back of the young one, which had never been ridden before.
At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus always told people He healed to keep it a secret. But now, He wanted everyone to know just who He is. It was part of God’s plan. Jesus had a checklist of prophecies to fulfill, starting with making a big entrance.
As Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem, all the people who knew of His miracles came to see him. Everyone had heard how Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead and wanted to get a look the man who was whispered to be the Messiah, God’s promised rescuer.
They spread clothes in the road to create a royal red carpet for their King. Other people cut branches off of the palm trees and waved them in the air. More and more people gathered before and behind Jesus. They squeezed into small alleys to catch a glimpse of Him. The crowd got larger and larger.
People shouted out in excitement, “Hosanna! The descendant of David has come to us! He comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in Heaven above!”
Some of the Pharisees, who loved the traditions they had received from God, more than they loved God Himself, did not like what they heard. To them, Jesus was just some prophet from an unimportant town.
“Rabbi,” they yelled at Him. “Tell your disciples to stop shouting these words!”
Jesus shook His head. “You think Me telling them to stop will change anything? If they don’t shout out the truth, the rocks on the ground will shout it for them.”
The Pharisees shook their heads at each other and grumbled, “What can we do? It seems like everyone in the world is going to follow Jesus.”
As Jesus looked over the city of Jerusalem, tears came to His eyes. He knew what the Romans were going to do, not just to Him, but to the city one day.
“You want peace, but don’t see what will bring you real peace,” He sobbed.
When Jesus’ disciples heard this, they were confused. But later, after He went back to Heaven, they looked back on those words and understood that everything that happened that week was part of God’s plan, shared with prophets for hundreds of years, and finally come true.