Why Did the Romans Allow the Triumphal Entry?

G. Campbell Morgan

Look for a moment at the Triumphal Entry of Jesus as a Roman would have looked at it. Has it ever occurred to you that it was a very remarkable thing that the Roman officials did not interfere with this demonstration?

The Romans were there to quell insurrection, to hold in check the turbulent Jews, and yet, there was no interference on their part! They were accustomed to see these vast multitudes gathered for religious exercises at Jerusalem; but they were perfectly aware of this strange movement and this unusual excitement manifest. They knew of the prophet of Nazareth, but they did not interfere. Why not? Because the whole thing was so utterly and absolutely contemptible.

I put it more strongly still and say that which we describe as a triumphal entry would have been in the eyes of the Roman a laughing stock; the Roman who had seen in the eternal city sitting on its seven hills, the triumphal return of a conqueror! I need not stop to describe in detail those triumphal entries, in which the conqueror, with kings whom he had overcome in war chained to his chariot wheels, amid the acclaim of the assembled multitudes, entered the city in military magnificence. Some old soldier who had seen such an entry into Rome would look at this entry characterized by old clothes, broken trees, unarmed peasant folk, and would have held it in supreme contempt.

It was just a mob; unorganized, shouting, tearing branches from trees and casting them in the way, taking their garments off and putting them across the back of the colt upon which a man rode. A man riding upon old clothes, in the midst of broken trees, surrounded by a shouting mob. That would have been the Roman outlook upon the whole scene: Grotesque!

Adapted from The Triumphal Entry, by G. Campbell Morgan.

Originally published September 22, 2010.

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