Devotional from Ligonier Ministries

Jesus Hailed As King

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!’ ” (vv. 9–10).

Mark 11:7–11

Zechariah 9:9, which foretells the arrival of the Messiah on a donkey, was fulfilled on the first Palm Sunday. Mark 11:7–11 describes the acclaim our Lord received on that day, acclaim that eventually gave way to calls for His crucifixion.

The crowd’s response to Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem shows that they were aware of the messianic claims He was making. They spread their cloaks on the road (v. 8), which recalls how the people acclaimed Jehu as king hundreds of years earlier by placing their garments on the steps of Jehu’s house (2 Kings 9:13). Also, the crowd that came into Jerusalem with Jesus cried out as He came: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mark 11: 9). “Hosanna!” means “Save!” in Hebrew, and it is a quote from Psalm 118:25–26, as is “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” It was an appropriate cry from the crowd, for according to the Old Testament, God’s salvation cannot be divorced from the reign of the Davidic king (Ps. 89; Jer. 23:5). The people understood that if Jesus were the Davidic king, redemption would be His work.

However, today’s passage gives us signs that the people who acclaimed Jesus on that first Palm Sunday did not correctly understand the salvation He would bring. They were looking for “the coming kingdom of our father David,” not the kingdom of God that Jesus came to inaugurate (Mark 11:10). Of course, if salvation is inseparable from the reign of the Davidic king, then we cannot finally separate the kingdom of God from the kingdom of the Son of David. Yet, the people did not speak of the kingdom of the Son of David but rather the kingdom of their father David. They were looking merely for a return to the glory days of Israel, when David and Solomon ruled a united Jewish kingdom renowned for its wealth and military might. They were looking for a kingdom that was primarily physical and geopolitical in nature. However, as Jesus taught, the kingdom of God does not come in that way. It starts out small and barely perceptible. It is a spiritual reality before it is a physical reality (4:30–32). The cries of the people on the first Palm Sunday show that they did not understand this, foreshadowing their eventual rejection of Jesus as their king (15:6–15).

After entering Jerusalem, Jesus lodged for the evening in Bethany, a town by the Mount of Olives (11:11). His resting was necessary, for He was about to begin His most important work.

Coram Deo

The people on the first Palm Sunday did not understand the nature of Christ’s kingdom or salvation. Nevertheless, they were correct to acclaim the Davidic king as the bringer of salvation. Only Jesus the Messiah can redeem us from all His and our enemies—the world, the flesh, and the devil. We cannot save ourselves. Let us trust Him al this day, and let us proclaim to the world that He is the only Savior.