The entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem took place on the first day of the week following the Sabbath. He had raised His friend Lazarus from the dead. “The crowd that had been with Him when He called Lazarus out or the tomb and raised him form the dead continued to bear witness” (John 12:17). Jesus now travels from Bethany to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. He will ride into Jerusalem as the prophet had foretold: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).
As His followers from Bethany accompany Him to Jerusalem, another crowd from the city approaches, and all begin to herald His arrival with shouts of “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:13). Palm branches, used in celebration of victory, are waved as the glad procession makes its way into Jerusalem. John records that “His disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified [following His death, resurrection, and outpouring of the Holy Spirit] did they realize that these things had been written about Him and that they had done these things to Him” (John 12:16).
At the moment, everyone was ignorant of Jesus’ true mission, the purpose of His coming. They were in the dark, as it were, not understanding the events that were being played out in front of them. There are the loyal followers, the disciples of our Lord, along with His betrayer. There are the crowds of pilgrims who have come from the country for the Passover Feast. It’s estimated the 20 thousand population of the city swelled to 60 or more thousand for the yearly celebration of Israel’s deliverance from bondage following the Passover.
Yet this festival was but a forecast of this wondrous reality of God’s Son delivering mankind from bondage to sin and death, and no one was even aware it was taking place, all according to God’s plan of salvation and the ordering of events Jesus submitted to. Christ’s opponents are beside themselves; they hoped to entrap Jesus, but with the multitude’s excitement for Jesus, He’s slipped from their grasp. He’s gotten away, as the Pharisees sulk, “Look how the whole world has gone after him!” (John 12:19). But soon they will have a willing accomplice to lead them to their target, arresting Jesus in Gethsemane later in the week before Passover.
Among the revelers were some “God-fearers” or foreigners, Greeks who have come to the festival. And these, careful not to transgress social norms, inquire of the Greek-named disciple, Philip, a resident of Bethsaida in Galilee, a possible acquaintance, for an audience with Jesus. “We wish to see Jesus” they say (John 12:21).News of Christ’s person and ministry has traveled far and wide, and the hope of personally meeting Israel’s Messiah now sparked their interest. Philip asks Andrew, and together they approach Jesus with the Greek’s request. At this news, Jesus now replies that the hour of His glorification is at hand. As a seed dies in the ground and produces much fruit, so too will His death and resurrection. The cross was God’s judgment upon the world, the defeat of Satan, and the triumph of Christ to deliver all men from sin’s bondage. Christ’s being “lifted up” on the cross would be His supreme exaltation, drawing all people to Himself regardless of their nationality, ethnic affiliation or status. It was most significant that Greek Gentiles were present at the time.
And it is significant for us too, that we have been called to faith by the Gospel of Christ’s death for our sins, and His resurrection for our justification (Romans 4:25). By these we see Jesus our Savior.