The Ministry of the Messiah 2:1-12:50

7. Jesus the resurrection and the life, 11:1-12:36

iv] The triumphal entry


It is the day after Jesus' anointing. The crowd that had gate-crashed the dinner held at Bethany in Jesus' honor had, but now, returned to Jerusalem, but they continued to spread the word about Jesus and how he had raised Lazarus from the dead. So, as Jesus sets out for Jerusalem, many of the pilgrims and inhabitants of the city come out to meet him, waving palm branches and singing verses from Psalm 118. At the time, the disciples did not understand what was happening, but they would soon realize that the events they were witnessing were in fulfillment of the words of Zechariah the prophet. Of course, the religious authorities grow increasingly frustrated with the people's enthusiastic acceptance of Jesus.


Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!


i] Context: See 12:1-11.


ii] Structure: The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem:

Jesus enters Jerusalem, v12-15;

"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord."

The confusion of the disciples, v16;

The welcoming crowd, v17-18;

The reaction of the Pharisees, v19.


iii] Interpretation:

We now come to "the end point of (Jesus) earthly self-manifestation as the Messiah of Israel", Ridderbos.


There is some difficulty distinguishing what ocloV, "crowd", John has in mind in his account of these events. Barrett suggests that there are two "crowds". There is the "crowd" that witnessed the raising of Lazarus and later returned to Bethany when they heard that Jesus was staying there. This crowd is busy telling everyone in Jerusalem what they had witnessed in Bethany, v17. On the next day, five days before the Passover, as Jesus is heading toward Jerusalem, another ocloV comes out of Jerusalem to meet him. Presumably this crowd is made up of pilgrims and other residents of Jerusalem. This crowd greets Jesus in messianic terms, waving palm branches and singing from Psalm 118 - a messianic Psalm. Their greeting "Hosanna" (save now) serves as a liturgical response of joy, and their response, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord", serves as a liturgical greeting. Yet, their acclamation moves to a messianic affirmation with the addition of the words "even (kai) the King of Israel." In simple terms, the crowd proclaims "God bless the coming Messiah, the king of Israel." Jesus accepts their messianic acclimation in action, rather than words. He takes their acclimation to himself by mounting a donkey in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9. Jesus is God's king, not the world's king; he comes on a donkey, not a war-horse.

The disciples join in with the celebration, although John tells us that at this point in time its meaning goes over their head - obviously over the head of the crowd as well. John seems to underline this point. It probably has to do with the proclamation of Jesus as "the King of Israel." Jesus is not Israel's king in worldly terms, he is God's king, a point made clear by riding a donkey into Jerusalem in fulfillment of Zechariah's prophecy. In typical Johannine irony, the Pharisees say that "the world has gone after him." Yes, indeed, but they have gone after the wrong king, a worldly king, for Jesus' kingdom is not of this world, 18:36. Of course, Jesus will soon be tried and executed on the charge of claiming to be a king, a claim he does not make. The uproar causes increased concern among the religious authorities who are now even more inclined to accept the murderous advice of Caiaphas.


iv] Synoptics

All four gospels recount Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, but as is so often the case, John's account is likely to be independent of the synoptic gospels. This is evident in the differences in John's gospel when compared with the synoptic accounts. First, John's dating of the account is different; Second, the pilgrim crowd that hailed Jesus with messianic Psalms is not journeying with Jesus, but comes out of Jerusalem to meet him; Third, John is the only gospel writer to mention palm branches; Fourth, John has the crowd proclaim that Jesus is "the king of Israel"; Fifth, Jesus gets a donkey and rides it upon meeting the crowd, and in response to their acclimation; Finally, John tells us that the disciples did not understand what was going on.

Those who think John's record depends on the synoptic record usually opt for Mark; see Barrett. For an argument against dependence see Smith, Johannine Christianity, pp. 97-105.1984. As often indicated in these notes, it is not unreasonable to believe that this gospel is an editorial reconstruction of the sermons / essays of an eyewitness, that witness being John the apostle.

Text - 12:12

The Triumphal Entry, v12-19: i] Jesus enters Jerusalem, v12-15. It is Sunday, and the pilgrims in Jerusalem for the Passover festival hear that Jesus is about to enter the city.

th/ epaurion dat. "the next day" - the tomorrow. The nominalizing article th/ turns the adverb into a substantive, the dative being temporal, "On the next day."

oJ ocloV poluV "the great crowd" - Again the adjective poluV, "great, large", stands as a predicate in the construction, but it obviously serves as an attributive, as NIV; See 12:9. "An immense body of people", Phillips.

oJ elqwn (ercomai) aor. part. "that had come [to the festival]" - the one having come [into the feast, festival]. The participle is adjectival, limiting "the great crowd", so indicating that the crowd is primarily made up of pilgrims who had come to the festival, rather than those in the "great crowd" who had witnessed the raising of Lazarus, believed in Jesus, and were telling everyone what Jesus had done. "The next day, the great body of pilgrims who had come to the festival", NEB.

akousanteV (akouw) "heard" - having heard. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, "when ..."; "on hearing that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem", Cassirer.

oJti "that" - that [jesus is coming into jerusalem]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what the crowd heard. The tense of what they heard is retained, so "is on his way", although translated "was on his way."


The words of Psalm 118:26 may have become a liturgical greeting, "blessed in the Lord is the one who comes", but the crowd give it full messianic bent with the addition of "Hosanna", and "even the King of Israel." They also cast palm fronds before Jesus, a gesture used in past times to welcome a coming king. Of course, as John will soon hint, this crowd is welcoming a political leader, even a revolutionary set to overthrow Rome; they are not welcoming the Son of Man.

twn foinikwn (ix ikoV) gen. "palm [branches]" - [the large crowd took the branches] of palm trees. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, as NIV, "palm fronds", or partitive, "branches of palm trees", ESV.

eiV + acc. "to [meet]" - [and went out] into [a meeting with]. Here expressing end-view / goal / purpose, "they went out in order to meet with him."

autw/ dat. pro. "him" - him. Dative of direct object after the uJpo prefix verb "to meet with."

ekraugazon (kraugazw) imperf. "shouting" - were shouting out, calling out. The imperfect, being durative, expresses the progressive nature of the action.

wJsanna "Hosanna" - Indeclinable particle serving as a liturgical shout of praise. The original Hebrew "give salvation / victory now" / "save, we pray", Harris, would not apply when used liturgically.

euloghmenoV "blessed is" - may [the one coming in the name of the lord] be blessed. With an assumed optative verb to-be (or imperfect "blessings be upon the one coming ...") this participle forms a perfect periphrastic construction.

oJ ercomenoV (ercomai) pres. part. "he who comes" - the one coming. The participle serves as a substantive.

en + dat. "in" - in [the name of the lord]. Here expressing association / accompaniment, "with". The "name" of a person expresses their being, and when used of God it primarily refers to his divinity, and thus his authority. So, the one who comes, comes with the authority of the Lord - the authority which belongs to the Lord God.

kai "blessed is" - and = even. Variant, 50/50 original. NIV has opted for a coordinating function. Possibly epexegetic, "the one who comes ....., namely, the king of Israel", or possibly ascensive, "the one who comes ......, even the King of Israel", ESV.

tou Israhl "of Israel" - [the king] of israel. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / subordination; "king over Israel."


Jesus responds to the crowd's acclamation, particularly "even the king of Israel", by mounting a donkey. Jesus is the messiah, but he is not the crowd's type of messiah. John confirms this fact by quoting Zechariah 9:9 in the next verse. The NIV has Jesus riding a "young donkey", although it is not clear whether the diminutive of onoV, "donkey", onarion, "small donkey", is meant to mean "young donkey." The word is only used here in the NT, and its use outside the NT is for a donkey of any age - a scruffy, worn out old donkey would be very applicable in this situation. None-the-less, a "young donkey" is preferred by many commentators who take the view that John is referring to the colt of an ass that has never been ridden in line with Mark, cf., Mk.11:2.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative; "And Jesus found a young donkey", ESV.

euJrwn (euJriskw) aor. part. "[Jesus] found" - [jesus] having found [a young donkey]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to sit"; "Jesus came across a young ass and seated himself on it", Moffatt.

ep (epi) + acc. "[sat] on [it]" - [he sat] upon [it]. Local, expressing space, "on, upon."

kaqw "as" - as. Comparative conjunction used to introduce a comparative clause, a clause often used to introduce a scriptural quote, "as it has been written"; "just as the scripture says", TEV.

estin gegrammenon (grafw) perf. mid. / pas. part. "it is written" - it has been written. Perfect periphrastic construction.


So far John has tended to allude to the Old Testament scriptures, but now he begins to provide scriptural support for Jesus' glorification; His quote from Zechariah 9:9 is truncated somewhat. He drops the initial Hebrew parallelism of the first two lines and replaces "rejoice with all your heart" with "do not be afraid." He drops the line "His cause won, his victory gained." cf., the parallel Zephaniah 3:14-20. The crowd was right to greet Jesus the messianic King, but he is no victorious potentate who will rule by the standards of this world.

Ziwn gen. proper "Daughter Zion" - [do not fear daughter] of zion. The genitive is adjectival, relational. Note that the negation mh + a present tense verb, as here, usually expresses a command to stop an action, so "Stop being afraid."

kaqhmenoV (kaqhmai) pres. mid. part. "seated" - [look the king of you is coming] sitting. The participle is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of the king's coming, namely, "mounted on the foal of an ass", Rieu.

onou (oV) gen. "[a] donkey's [colt]" - [upon a colt] of a donkey. The NIV, as with many translations, takes the genitive as possessive, so "donkey's colt"; "the foal of an ass", Rieu. But it is possible that the sense is "young donkey", TEV. The CEV simply goes with "donkey" given that size (small) may be the issue rather than age (young).


The crowd fails to understand the true significance of Jesus' actions, and, as is often the case, so also the disciples. Yet, the disciples will come to understand the events of this day, and how they fulfill scripture, but only after Jesus is glorified, and this through their reception of the Holy Spirit.

all (alla) "-" - [the disciples of him did not understand these things at first] but. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "not ...... but ....."

oJt "only after [Jesus was glorified]" - when [jesus was glorified]. Temporal conjunction serving to introduce a temporal clause; "but when he attained his state of glory", Cassirer.

tote adv. "[did they realize]" - then [they remembered]. The temporal adverb introduces a temporal clause; "then they called to mind", Cassirer.

oJti "that" - that [these things]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what they remembered; "that these words were written", Cassirer.

h]n ... gegrammena (grafw) perf. mid./pas. part. "had been written" - were having been written. here the imperfect verb to-be and the perfect participle form a periphrastic perfect construction.

ep (epi) + dat. "about [him]" - Here expressing reference / respect; "with respect to him."

kai "and" - Coordinative, here establishing a strong link between what was written about Jesus, and what was done to Jesus; "and that it was in accordance with them (what was written) that they had been dealing with him the way they did", Cassirer.

autw/ dat. pro. "[and that these things had been done] to him" - [and that they did these things] to him. Dative of indirect object / interest advantage. The subject of the verb "to do" is unclear. The subject is usually taken to be "the crowd", so "they (the disciples) remembered that ....... they (the crowd) did these things to him"; but possibly the "they" is the disciples, "the disciples remembered that ....... they themselves had done these things to him." Brown argues that it is acceptable to take the verb "to do" in general passive sense here. Of course, tauta, "these things", may be nominative rather than accusative; "they remembered how (that) this (these things) had been written of him and how it (these things) had happened to him", Moffatt. The "these things" are the events recorded in this passage, so Ridderbos. Note that tauta, "these things", is repeated three times in this verse indicating emphasis. A totally left-of-field take on the third tauta is that proposed by Morris who suggests it refers to the actions of the apostles in acquiring the donkey - it is possible!


iii] The welcoming crowd, v17-18. In these two verses John seems to be making the point here that the ocloV, "crowd", which had witnessed the raising of Lazarus and responded by believing in Jesus, on returning to Jerusalem had spread the amazing news about what had happened in Bethany. It was in response to their testimony that the ocloV, "crowd of pilgrims", had gone out to meet Jesus and hail him as the coming king of Israel. John is determined to emphasize that there are two different crowds. John's point may be that unlike the "crowd" that witnessed the raising of Lazarus, a "crowd" whose faith is sign-based and inadiquate (so Ridderbos), the "crowd of pilgrims" response to Jesus' coming is word-based. John also makes the point that the "crowd of pilgrims" comes out to meet and greet Jesus, rather than journeys with him into Jerusalem. So, the word-based "crowd" comes out of Zion to hail the coming king.

oun "now" - therefore. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

oJ w]n (eimi) pres. part. "[the crowd] that was" - [the crowd] the one being. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "the crowd."

met (meta) + gen. "with [him]" - Expressing association / accompaniment.

ote "when" - when [he called lazarus]. Temporal conjunction serving to introduce a temporal clause.

ek + gen. "from [the tomb]" - from [the tomb and raised him] from [the dead]. Expressing source, origin / separation, "away from."

emarturei (marturew) imperf. "continued to spread the word" - were testifying, witnessing. The imperfect, being durative, may be highlighting continued testifying, as NIV.


dia touto "-" - because of this = therefore [the crowd and met him]. This causal construction usually takes an inferential sense, "therefore / consequently", rather than "the reason why ....", ESV, or "that is why the crowd met him ..", TEV. The crowd that witnessed the raising of Lazarus had testified to this miracle in Jerusalem, "therefore the crowd of pilgrims met him (went out to meet him) on his way to Jerusalem because ......"

kai "-" - and. Variant, possibly dropped from some texts because it is rather awkward. Coordinative is unlikely, better adjunctive, "the crowd of pilgrims also met him because ....", Novakovic, or emphatic, "indeed, the crowd of pilgrims met him because ....", Harris, or ascensive, "therefore even the crowd of pilgrims met him because ...." An adjunctive "also" would imply that both crowds went out to meet Jesus, and this could well be the case.

oJti "because" - because [they heard]. Causal.

pepoihkenai (poiew) perf. inf. "that [he] had performed" - [him] to have done [this sign]. The infinitive serves to introduce a dependent statement of perception expressing what the crowd heard, namely "that he had performed this miracle." The pronoun auton, "him", serves as the accusative subject of the infinitive.

autw/ dat. pro. "[to meet] him" - [met] him. Dative of direct object after the uJpo prefix verb "to meet with."


iv] The reaction of the Pharisees, v19. Frustration engulfs the religious authorities and presses them toward the action proposed by Caiaphas.

oun "so" - therefore [the pharisees said toward themselves]. Inferential, establishing a logical connection, "so, consequently."

qewreite (qewrew) pres. ind./imp. "see" - look, observe, see. Usually taken to be an imperative, but possibly an indicative, "You see, we are defeated", Rieu.

oJti "-" - [look, observe] that [you do not gain nothing]. Introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech. Note the double negative for emphasis. The Pharisees are addressing each other, so "we are getting nowhere", REB. Threats are getting the religious authorities nowhere so obviously they now need to consider the advice of Caiaphas.

opisw + gen. "[the world has gone] after [him]" - [look, the world went] after [him]. Improper local preposition expressing space, the space after the one before, here metaphorical, of adherence; "the whole world is following him", TEV. "The whole world" simply means "everyone" = "all of Jerusalem", but is probably another example of Johannine irony given the visit of the Greeks in the next section. For John, "the world" is the world of unbelief, a world lost in darkness.


John Introduction

TekniaGreek font download


[Pumpkin Cottage]