When Jesus came to Jerusalem for the last time, He arrived to the adulation of many and the cheering approval of the crowd. The Triumphal Entry, as it is called, served a deeper purpose than simply a parade in His honor, however.
His coming in this manner had been revealed clearly in the Old Testament: the method, the timing, and the meaning. Zechariah 9:9 had told of the King's coming on the colt of a donkey so that Israel would recognize Him. From Daniel 9:25-26 the exact time of the Messiah's arrival can be calculated. Psalms 118:21-29 had announced the meaning of Christ's arrival, which the crowd realized in their shouts.
This event also fulfilled Jesus's promise. Several weeks earlier, some Pharisees came to lure Him back to Judea. Jesus said that He would not return until such time as the citizens of Jerusalem would say, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord" (Luke 13:31-35). Perhaps He intended this to further establish His credentials as the promised Messiah.
The Triumphal Entry accomplished two major goals. Because of the heightened excitement caused by the resurrection of Lazarus and then the public entrance into Jerusalem, He piqued the curiosity of the people there—important because of the many pilgrims who had come to the city for Passover. In addition, the approbation of the crowd protected Him, at least initially, from the murderous desires of the spiritual leaders in Jerusalem. The delay allowed the prophecies of the Old Testament to be fulfilled.
In a way, His entrance established a test for the people in Jerusalem. While many cheered His arrival, their faith would be challenged when He did not live up to the conquering Messiah of popular imagination. Instead, He effectively took over the Temple and called the people to the Kingdom of God. After several days, the shouts of praise turned into shouts for crucifixion.
Adapted from the lecture notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).