The Palm Branches That Broke the Camel’s Back

John, especially, portrays the worry and frustration of the Jewish leaders when Jesus comes to Jerusalem at the head of a royal procession:

So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” (John 12:19 ESV)

JP Lange captures the tension crackling in the air in the fourth volume of The Life of the Lord Jesus Christ:

Whilst, thus, the people make the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem to be a triumphal procession, which after His many journeyings appears as the long-wished-for festive entrance of the Messiah into His royal city, the enemies of Jesus, in the rage of despair, helplessly clasp their hands. They seem for a moment to have lost all courage, in the presence of the glory of Jesus. This is shown by their beginning in bitterness to mock at themselves, as His impotent opposers.

This is thus quite a new form of the separation: the believing people on the one side, surrounding the Lord in a joyous triumphal procession; on the other side, the unbelieving rulers of the people who appear in the background discomfited, amidst despair, exasperation, and dissension.

The Life of the Lord Jesus Christ, Vol. IV, pg. 416

The Triumphal Entry forces the hands of the Pharisees. Debating Him hasn’t worked, inciting mobs to kill Him hasn’t worked, quiet assassination hasn’t worked, the whole “let go and let God” strategy has also failed. Ever since Jesus raised Lazarus, the Pharisees have been trying to kill Him, and if Jesus had taken the subtle route and quietly slipped into Jerusalem with the Twelve, conditions would have been perfect. But no, the worst thing imaginable happens, and with a twist on the whole Haman and Mordecai situation, the Pharisees are inadvertently caught up in a processional in Jesus’ honor. Like Haman, they’d look pretty silly if they tried to have Jesus killed now. Jesus knows He is coming to be killed, but He remains in complete control. This thing will not be done in a corner: if the Pharisees are going to kill Him, it will be in front of the whole world.

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father. (John 10:17-18 ESV)

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