Christ enters Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11)

Christ enters Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11)

Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, one week before his death, is celebrated by the Church on Palm Sunday, otherwise known as ‘Passion Sunday’. All four gospels describe Christ’s arrival in the city – riding on a donkey and greeted by cheering crowds who waved palm branches and spread their cloaks upon the ground. (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-38; John 12:12-16)

Christ’s conscious choice of such a public entry on a donkey was a highly symbolic act that was based on a passage from the prophet Zechariah (9:9-10). As Pope Benedict XVI once explained: “Jesus entered the Holy City riding on a donkey, that is, the animal of the simple, common country people, and moreover, it was an ass that did not belong to him but one he had asked to borrow for the occasion. He did not arrive in an ostentatious royal carriage or on horseback like the great figures of the world, but on a borrowed donkey.”

This striking image of Christ’s arrival into Jerusalem is found within the Cathedral of St John, Portsmouth. Created by the Goddard & Gibbs firm in 1950, it captures something of the joy felt by the people of Jerusalem about Christ’s presence in the city. Palm branches are a major feature of the window, being waved by the crowds, spread before Christ and growing in the background. The window’s caption is taken from the catchphrase of the welcoming crowds.

See the full image:

Palm_SundayGoddard & Gibbs / Christ enters Jerusalem / Stained glass / 1950

Where to find this work of art
St John’s Cathedral, Portsmouth

Read the relevant passage 
Matthew 21:1-11

On a similar theme

  • From the Old Testament: In Christian tradition, Christ’s entry to Jerusalem is often linked with the triumphant arrival of King David in the city after defeating Goliath.
  • From the New Testament: Christ entered the city in triumph, but left it carrying a cross on Good Friday.