The Triumphant Entry
12 The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors 13 took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted,
"Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hail to the King of Israel!"
14 Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: 15 "Don't be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey's colt."
16 His disciples didn't understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.
It was always amazing to me that the people in Christ's day did not recognize that He was the fulfillment of prophesy since His life so closely resembled those things that were foretold in the Old Testament. As time goes on and I grow in understanding of the Scriptures I am convinced that the lack of understanding on the part of the people during Christ's lifetime was not just understandable--it was fully justified.
This passage of scripture makes that very clear: the King of Kings rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. True, there was a large crowd that awaited His arrival and threw down their coats and palm branches in His honor. But, there was no national homage paid. There was no recognition from the congregation of Israel as a whole, and this large crowd, even though they rejoiced to see Jesus entering the gates of Jerusalem and knew Him to be the King of Israel and their Lord did not recognize Him as the fulfillment of every prophesy foretold concerning the Messiah.
And why? Because ultimately, Jesus Christ had yet to enter into His glory. Until He died, rose, and ascended all of His claims, all of the miracles, and all of His teachings, though edifying and God-inspired, did not "vindicate" Him as the Messiah. They were signs, true--and they were utilized to catch the attention of the masses so that when the ultimate purpose of Christ's coming--the crucifixion and resurrection took place, there would remain no doubt in anyone's mind about who He was.
In the Message, we were told to look to the signs William Branham made to "vindicate" him as the last days messenger. We were told that the Scriptures foretold of him, and that we can trust his teachings (even when contrary to scripture), trust his prophesies (even when they don't come to pass), and trust his testimony (even when he's been proven to lie) all because of the fact that "God said he would send a prophet in these last days."
It takes a fundamental change in mindset to understand that 'signs' are NEVER given as the proof. Jesus Himself did not command the people to look to His many signs, instead teachings that an evil and adulterous generation seeks after signs, but that the real 'vindication' is the resurrection of Christ from the Grave. (Matthew 12:39, 1 Corinthians 1:22-23).
Laying aside the controversial arguments against William Branham as a trustworthy witness; laying aside all the proof we have against the truth of the signs and wonders, if we take only what the Bible tells us about these last days and prophets we can swiftly come to the conclusion that he was false. The argument against his claims can be summarized in Hebrews 1:1-2:
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;
William Branham claimed that in order to attain salvation and avoid tribulation and judgment we must believe his message and follow him--the 'messenger of the hour'. Scripture teaches us differently. Scripture teaches us that is it God, speaking to us through His Son in these last days that saves us and brings us the Words of Life.
It is right to be weary of false prophets--we were warned, after all that they would come. It is right to test to see if a prophet is false or not. And it is right to discard the false and seek after the true in all things. From this false teaching alone, we can lay aside William Branham and his message. The Word teaches us one thing, and this man another. Let's stay with the Word!
Those following Jesus did not recognize the fulfillment of every prophesy during His lifetime. But I would like to suggest that instead of that pointing to a deficit of faith or diligence on their parts, it was the exact opposite. They didn't recognize Jesus as the fulfillment of all during His time on earth because He had not yet fulfilled all things. But, when they saw the Truth made known in the resurrection, God exchanged their hearts of stone for hearts of flesh, and they tenderly accepted the Truth that Christ had brought to them from His very birth onward.
This is why the simplicity of the Gospel is so very important. Paul stresses that the Gospel is Jesus Christ and Him crucified alone because ultimately, that alone is the sign--that alone is the vindication. The rest was given to benefit us, yes--but may we never be found guilty of seeking after a sign instead of the Truth of the Gospel.