In mid-august, 1783, very near the end of the Revolutionary War, Sir Guy Carleton received orders from London to evacuate New York City. Carleton was unable to give the Continental Army an exact day for his evacuation since Loyalist refugees were flooding in. But finally, the date was set for November 25th, and some 29,000 Loyalists were evacuated. George Washington waited outside the city where he prepared for a triumphant march, but his march was delayed. It is believed the British greased the flag pole in Battery Park, so the Patriots were initially unable to climb it to take down the British flag. But after creating some wooden cleats, the Patriots were able to take down the flag and Washington rode into the city.
In most historic triumphal entries the enemy was either subdued or gone by the time generals, emperors or kings arrived. These stand in stark contrast to the event we call the “triumphal entry” by Jesus. Here is the Biblical account in Matthew 11:1: “As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples,2 saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.’ This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
‘Say to the Daughter of Zion, “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”‘ The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosannato the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest!’ When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds answered, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.'”
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, he came “gentle and riding on a donkey.” He didn’t come in a chariot drawn by four horses like a Roman emperor, and He wasn’t surrounded by dignitaries and generals. He rode a donkey, and a borrowed donkey at that. He wasn’t surrounded by armed soldiers, but rather by common people holding palm leaves. There was no evacuation; no formal surrender, and no flag lifted. And yet, Jesus was indeed the conqueror.