Someone has suggested that there are only six degrees of separation between any of us, that we are just six introductions away from meeting anybody on earth. We are often amazed at how small our world really is. I met my wife through match.com. Yes, I’m a .com er. As we got to know each other, however, the connections were uncanny. Her mom and my parents know the same missionaries who were in Bolivia the same time we were. They were not with the same mission organizations, but they knew each other. Even more surprising to us was that my mom attended a young adults event at the church in Duluth where her dad had just become the pastor. That was many years ago and completely unrelated to any other part of our meeting and our lives.
We are often amazed at the connecting discoveries we find in Scripture, though we probably shouldn’t be. The Bible is, after all, the Word of God; but when we find those amazing connections, for some reason we continue to be astounded. Such were the discoveries I recently made with a peek into the narrative of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as told by Matthew. It is the text we use to begin our Church year and to start us on that journey that begins with a look back to Christ’s first coming and forward to His second.
When Jesus sent his disciples to fetch the donkey colt on which He rode into Jerusalem, He told them that the prophecy spoken by Zechariah
“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.”
was being fulfilled. These words were first spoken to reassure the Jewish people who had returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity that their mission was indeed righteous and pleasing to the Lord. The word to them was to remain faithful and true because God would indeed fulfill the promises He made. God would return a descendant of David’s to the throne. There would be again a king in Israel. As Jesus spoke the words, they were indeed coming true. He, a king coming in peace on the back of a donkey, was the fulfillment of that Messianic promise.
Unlike a conquering king, though He did come to conquer sin and death, Jesus came humbly to bring righteousness and salvation. So Zechariah had foretold. And there is here another amazing connection, a connection in how the people received Him. Palm branches were cut down, and a chant went up: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
The words on the lips of those who welcomed Jesus into the city of Jerusalem were taken from Psalm 118. With Psalms 113 to 117, Psalm 118 was used responsively in the worship during the Feast of Tabernacles. It a was feast during which there was a palm branch procession led by the High Priest. The psalms and the procession were both called “the hosanna.”
As Jesus entered Jerusalem, the crowds called out “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Whether they realized it or not, they made the connection between the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy and one line from Psalm 118: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” As they waved palm branches and shouted their praise with “hosanna,” they linked the coming of the king with the Hosanna Psalms and declared the salvation that comes from God.
This one line is part of three verses in Psalm 118 that announces a savior:
“The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief corner stone.
This is the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day which the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
O Lord, do save, we beseech You;
O Lord, we beseech You, do send prosperity!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord;
We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.”
The day the Lord has made is so much more than a reminder of God’s daily presence. It is indeed a prophetic declaration that the day in which the stone the builders rejected became the chief cornerstone is the day the Lord has made. This is the day of our salvation. This is the day we bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
As we begin a new Church year and the cycle of our lives continues, we once again see Christ Jesus who came to bring salvation and Christ Jesus who will come again to fulfill His promise of eternal life. “This is day the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”