12 ¶ On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. 14 And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, 15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt. 16 These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him. 17 The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. 18 For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle. 19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.
For a time Jesus is recognized for who He is, Israel’s true king, their Messiah, their Christ. A great many people praised Him shouting and waved branches of palm trees. They praised and blessed His name. The palm tree was an emblem of victory and triumph in the ancient world, as Matthew Henry tells it. There is an air of expectation in these praises for Him to be the agent of God’s deliverance of Israel.
Psalm 118:25 Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. 26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.
Read Psalm 118 for a mix of the first and second advent prophecy, then read it together with Psalm 2 to get some perspective of the millennial reign of Christ and the events at the end of the millennium when Satan tempts Gog and Magog to rise up in Revelation 20:7-10. This triumphal entry into Jerusalem may be a sign of things to come at the end of history as Jesus does not assume the temporal kingly role at His first appearance but early Christians did expect Him to physically return to rule for a thousand years, called the Millennium or the Millennial Reign of Christ. This is what some historical church organizations think they are doing now, in His stead, with, to them, a millennium just being a long period of time until they win the world for Christ and turn it over to Him at His eventual return. Not doing too good a job are they. The early Christians, though, were expectantly waiting for Christ’s return to rule. They were not expecting to set up a millennial golden age without Christ being physically present.
Jesus came in riding a donkey in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.
Zechariah 9:9 ¶ Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
Riding upon an ass, a donkey, was an ancient and honorable way of travel for royalty.
2Samuel 16:2 And the king said unto Ziba, What meanest thou by these? And Ziba said, The asses be for the king’s household to ride on; and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat; and the wine, that such as be faint in the wilderness may drink.
His disciples did not catch the meaning of all of this until after His resurrection. The Pharisees express their exasperation with another unintentional prophecy as the worship of Christ will become a worldwide religion.