This coming Sunday is commonly known as Palm Sunday, but I like the alternate title a little better: “The Triumphal Entry.”
The background is that Jesus, His disciples, His followers, and His friends journey from Bethphage and Bethany to Jerusalem. This is described in Matthew 21-1-11. Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, and John 12:12-19. It’s triumphant because among those with Jesus is Lazarus, who has just recently been raised from the dead.
And this wasn’t a partially dead or even just mostly dead Lazarus. No, Lazarus had been dead long enough (four days) that his close relatives and friends were pretty sure he was a stinking rotting corpse when Jesus called him out of the grave.
This had been a true miracle. Lazarus hadn’t just fallen asleep and been mistaken for dead. God in the flesh had raised a very, very dead man back to life.
In fact, news of this astounding miracle spread so rapidly that great crowds in Jerusalem had heard of it and rushed out to meet Jesus on the Mount of Olives before He had even entered the city.
And from that Mount of Olives, one finds a panoramic view of the City of Jerusalem. To this day, the city and its eastern wall face the Mount of Olives. Spread out all along the slopes of the Mount are thousands and thousands of above-ground tombs. The exact number is unknown, but it is estimated that the remains of between 70,000 and 150,000 are interred in this Jewish cemetery.
There is a gate in that eastern wall facing the Mount of Olives called the Golden Gate. It is most probably the gate through which Jesus entered on that triumphant day.
Today, that gate is sealed shut –and it has been since the Middle Ages. It was closed off by Muslims in 810 A.D., reopened by Crusaders in 1102, and closed off again in 1187. In Jewish tradition, the Messiah will enter Jerusalem through this gate.
In 1964, there was a hotel under construction on the Mount of Olives. As the construction began, a fault line was discovered. The hotel had to be relocated slightly, (It still stands and is called “Seven Arches Hotel.”) but the discovery of the fault line had a lot of Bible scholars remembering the Messianic prophecy from Zechariah 14:4:
“On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. And the Mount of Olives will split apart, making a wide valley running from east to west. Half the mountain will move toward the north and half toward the south.” (NLT)
Does that fault line align itself with the Golden Gate? When He returns, and the Mount of Olives splits in two, will that gate that has been shut for so many years be opened for the King of all kings and Lord of all lords to enter into the city He wept over?
I can’t help but think of a group of disciples standing on the Mount of Olives watching Jesus ascend in Acts 1:11 as angels speaks to them:
“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!” (NLT)
His return is inevitable and He will come in great glory, as described in Revelation 19 and it will be even more triumphant than the first time He came into Jerusalem in glory. There are no bricks or mortar that could keep Him out.
And so, my soul will be celebrating not one, but two observances of Triumphal Entry this Sunday because He has raised me and a great cloud of witnesses from death to life and I know Jesus is coming back.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.” (NLT)
Picture courtesy of Pixabay. The Golden Gate in the eastern wall of Jerusalem as it appears today.