Are we able to know the exact historical date of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the crucifixion, the resurrection? Though there are a couple of criticisms in the scholarly world about the following, certainly the best-ever attempt is that which I’ll share with you today.
One of the great blessings of my life was to go to Dallas Theological Seminary from 1978-1982 (for my master’s education … the doctoral portion at “The Sem” was a decade later). There I chose to major in New Testament Literature and Exegesis (more simply stated, I majored in N.T. Greek). The head of that academic department was a man named Dr. Harold Hoehner.
At the same time, another great privilege in my early life was to be the Minister of Music at Grace Bible Church in Dallas. One of the elders at the church was the same Harold Hoehner. He was a great personal encourager to me, and it is a treasure in my office to have his name on my ordination certificate.
Dr. Hoehner was indeed one of the most brilliant men I’ve ever known. Having a doctorate from Dallas, he also went on for a second Ph.D. at Cambridge University. Truly he was one of the foremost Greek language scholars ever. His doctoral dissertation at Cambridge was later published under the title “Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ.” A portion of this book was to take ancient calendars, working them together in a way to make an attempt at an exact date of events such as in in our passage today.
As the saying goes … It’s complicated!
But to arrive at the date of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, one must go back to a variety of Old Testament passages, including the first 69 weeks as described in Daniel 9:24-27 (as we believe the 70th week – a week speaking of a period of seven years – as being the tribulation period, yet in the future … a topic for another time … it’s complicated!). So the 69 “weeks” of seven years = 483 years (of 360 days each – Jewish calendar reckoning).
The beginning of the 69 weeks is when a decree in given to rebuild Jerusalem – spoken of in the beginning of the book of Nehemiah. This was done by a king named Artaxerxes. The year was 444 BC.
The end of the 69 weeks would be when Christ was presented to the nation at the King, yet not accepted (“cut off”). So, the 483 years are actually 476 solar years, and by multiplying 476 by 365.24219879 days, it comes to 173,855 days. Then Hoehner writes …
This leaves only 25 days to be accounted for between 444 B.C. and A.D. 33. By adding the 25 days to Nisan 1 or March 5 (of 444 B.C.), one comes to March 30 (of A.D. 33) which was Nisan 10 in A.D. 33. This is the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. . . . The terminus ad quem of the sixty-ninth week was on the day of Christ’s triumphal entry on March 30, A.D. 33.
As predicted in Zechariah 9:9, Christ presented Himself to Israel as Messiah the king for the last time and the multitude of the disciples shouted loudly by quoting from a messianic psalm: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord” (Ps. 118:26; Matt.21:9; Mark 11:10; Luke 19:38; John 12:13). This occurred on Monday, Nisan 10 (March 30) and only four days later on Friday, Nisan 14, April 3, A.D. 33, Jesus was cut off or crucified.
See, it is complicated!
Can we know this for sure? Not 100% … but it really could be true. In any event, at the very worst, this accounting has to be extremely close.
The Scriptures are amazing. What are the chances that something like this is the mere imaginations of people putting together a miscellaneous collection of ancient writings, only to somehow have interpretive details such as these just accidentally fall together?
But for our purposes of this current series, as we reflect on this passage for this coming Palm Sunday, we entitle it “The Pinnacle Moment.” This is the moment when Christ is presenting himself as the Messiah King to the nation of Israel. Though a glorious moment, soon these same crowds would shout to have him crucified, and the religious leaders would believe they had conquered the annoyance of this trouble-making preacher from Galilee.
But as Peter would preach on the Day of Pentecost, what they all had rather done was to crucify the Messiah, thus providing the payment for sin in the broader plan of God. Peter finished his sermon in Acts 2:36 by saying, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
Is it not an awesome thing to look back on all of this, and to know that through our union with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection, we inherit eternal life and a forever connection to God!
Luke 19:28 – After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30 “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”
32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”
34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.”
35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”[b]
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
45 When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. 46 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”
47 Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. 48 Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.