Matthew 21:1-16 (Mk 11:1-10; Lk 19:29-38; Jn 12:12-15)
Grand entrances. Wedding. Royalty.
Verse 10 – “Who is this?” Note:-
(a) the deliberate ‘staging’ of the entrance. He is in sovereign control, (and yet uses human means).
(b) the nature of the entrance. Similar to ancient ‘victory parades’. Solomon, 1 King 1:33. 2 Kings 9:13 – ‘They took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, “Jehu is king!”
(c) the testimony of Scripture. This is a deliberate enactment of Zech 9:9 ‘[Say to the] Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ Jesus normally walked everywhere. Pilgrims were obliged to enter Jerusalem on foot. Without uttering a word, Jesus is saying, “today, this Scripture is being fulfilled before your very eyes.”
(d) the acclamation of the crowd. V9. ‘The Son of David’ (Mt 1:1 onwards). ‘Hosanna’ = ‘God save the King’? He is given the ‘red carpet’ treatment.
Lk 19:37 ‘the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.’ Jn 12:18 many went out to meet him because they had heard about the raising of Lazarus.
When Jesus enters Jerusalem, he does so, not as a tourist, or pilgrim. Proclaimed as ‘Son of David’ in Mt 1:1, he now accepts the acclamation, v9, 15. Heralded as King at his birth, Mt 2, now again as he approaches his death. Previously, he had discouraged such testimony (Jn 6:15 – ‘Knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force…’). Now, it’s time to go public.
27:11 “Are you the king of the Jews?’ – ‘Yes, it is as you say.’
A King then, but what kind of King?
(a) a King who comes in lowliness and peace. Zec 9:9 ‘…gentle, and riding on a donkey.’ Not a horse, but a donkey. No show of military strength. The crowd thought he would save them from Roman oppression. Jn 18:36 ‘My kingship is not of this world. It is ever so with Christ’s people: ‘The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world’ (2 Cor 10:4).
(b) A King who comes in judgment and mercy
The cleansing of the Temple anticipates its future destruction. Jesus weeping over Jerusalem (Lk 19:41); Mt 23-24 – ‘Seven woes’; Mt 23:38 – “Look, your house is left to you desolate…I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
Clearing the ground. ‘Something greater than the temple is here’, Mt 12:6. Jn 2:19-21 ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days…The temple he had spoken of was his body’. 2 Cor 6:16 ‘We are the temple of the living God.’
He comes, not simply to overturn the corrupt sacrificial system of the temple, but to fulfil all that it pointed to: not by being enthroned, but by being killed; by giving his life as a ransom for many, 20:28.
His dying and rising would usher in a new age for the whole world. The market – and Jesus’ action against it – took place in the Court of the Gentiles. V13/Isa 56:7 – ‘A house of prayer for all nations.’
Has Israel been utterly rejected? No! In Rom 9-11, Paul will teach that the rejection of Israel has sent the gospel to the whole world, and this will in turn provoke Israel to seek her Messiah.
Never forget that Jesus is a King. Lowly then, glorious hereafter. The one who came as a helpless baby will return as King of kings and Lord of lords; the one who sat on a donkey then will ride on a white charger hereafter (Rev 19); the Lamb who bears the marks of having been slain, is the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev 5).
Will you welcome this man as your king? The crowds only recognised him as ‘Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee’ (v11). But he heals the sick and accepts the praises of children, v14-16. King Jesus will receive all who come to him confessing their need.
Will you continue his faithful soldier and servant to the end of your life? 2 Tim 2:12 ‘If we endure, we will also reign with him.’
Will you imitate him in his lowly kingship? Mt 20:29 “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He is the crucified Messiah, the lowly Lord, the humble king, the human God. This is our God, the Servant King. He calls us now to follow him. And bring our lives as a daily offering of worship to our Servant King.