Jesus knew this trip to Jerusalem would be His last before He was killed. He knew prophecies would be fulfilled as He entered the city. Little children were part of those events.
The time was getting closer for Jesus to give His life. He was making His way again to Jerusalem. He knew what was waiting for Him there. He knew there would be crowds of people during this Passover season. This time the people would praise Him and see Him as a prophet.
It was just a few days before Passover. As Jesus and His disciples got near Jerusalem, He sent two of them ahead. He told them to go into the village where they would see a donkey and a colt tied up. “Bring them to Me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him the Lord has need of them.”
Matthew tells us that Jesus did this in order to fulfill a prophecy given long before by the prophet Zechariah (Matthew 21:5).
They brought the donkey and colt to Jesus and laid their clothes on them. Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The crowd of people began putting their clothes down before Him. This showed that they thought Jesus was a very important person, like a king (2 Kings 9:13). It may have been like rolling out the red carpet. Others cut branches off palm trees and laid them flat on the road.
A big crowd gathered. Some went before Jesus, and others followed behind Him. They were shouting praises and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!”
Little children were also among the people shouting praises to Jesus.
Other people were asking, “Who is this?”
Those who had been following Jesus said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”
Cleaning out the temple
The next day Jesus went to the temple of God. People should have been at the temple worshipping God. Instead Jesus found people buying and selling, as if the temple were a common street market. When Jesus saw what was going on, He drove out all those who were selling and buying.
He also drove out the money changers. They were charging a fee to exchange foreign coins for Hebrew coins that could be used in the temple to buy items for sacrifices and offerings.
He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves’” (Matthew 21:12-13).
Their buying and selling right on the temple grounds was disrespectful toward God. It was also disrespectful toward other people who wanted to worship God at the temple. They were probably cheating the poor and were more concerned about money than about the people or about God. Jesus drove all of them out. He turned over the money changers’ tables. (This was the second time Jesus had cleaned the temple of merchants; see John 2:14-17.)
After Jesus had finished cleaning out the temple, blind and crippled people came to Him, and He healed them (Matthew 21:14).
Jesus loved the little children
The chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that Jesus did. Still, when they saw the children in the temple shouting “Hosanna,” they were very displeased (Matthew 21:15). They did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God. They didn’t think the children should be praising Him.
They asked Jesus if He heard what the children were saying. He answered: “Yes. Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?” (Matthew 21:16).
Jesus must have been very pleased to hear the children praise Him. In Mark 10:14 He told the disciples to let little children to come to Him, “for of such is the kingdom of God.” He loved the children, and He sometimes used a little child as an example. He showed how even adults should follow good examples by little children. (See our article “Like Little Children: Lessons for Life.”)
Here are some questions to think about or talk about as a family:
- Why do you think Jesus was prophesied to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey?
- What did the crowd do when they saw Him?
- Why were the religious leaders upset about the children and adults shouting “Hosanna”?
- Why was Jesus upset about the merchants and money changers in the temple?
- What did He do?
- Do you think Jesus loves children?
For more, see our Daily Bible Verse Blog post “Hosanna in the Highest!”