April 3rd, 2022: Triumphal Entry of the King- Matthew 21: 1-11
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.
Lift up your heads! The King is coming! Don't look down or around and don’t cower or fear. The Lord Strong and Mighty is our King. He is the Lord of hosts. He is the King of glory. He is coming, just like he promised. The lesson today shows Jesus revealing himself as the crowd triumphantly cheers. The citizens of Jerusalem much like us today, have so underestimated what he is actually getting ready to do on their behalf. He is going to deliver them from so much more than they are expecting. The crowd that day was anticipating freedom from Rome. A King to break the bonds of political powers. Our King was on His way to deliver them from Death and Hell, to give them an everlasting Kingdom with no end. This entry into the city shows them the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. On His next return, Jesus will reveal the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.
Where are the disciples and Jesus? They are coming into Jerusalem from the east side. This lesson has them at Bethphage (which means house of unripe figs) and they are headed to the Mount of Olives. Does this ring a bell? The Eastern Gate is mentioned in other passages of scripture as the place that the Glory of God went through as it left the temple. Ezekiel prophesied that the glory of the Lord comes back through the gate facing east. Many commentators equate this particular scripture to our lesson today. 43 Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: 2 And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory. (Eze 43:1-2)
Ezekiel also mentions the gate being closed again and then reopened again when a “Prince” will come through (Ezekiel 11,43,44,46). This Mount of Olives/Olivet is where Jesus will ascend into heaven after His resurrection and where He will return at His second coming. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey. (Acts 1: 9-12)
Just as a bit of an historic note, the eastern gate in Jerusalem is currently closed. It is also called the Beautiful Gate, the Golden Gate, and the Gate of Mercy. In or around 1540 AD Suleiman the Magnificent, of the Ottoman empire, in order to prevent the Jewish Messiah from returning through that particular gate, sealed it shut with approximately 16 feet of cement. There is also a cemetery outside the gate to prevent anyone from walking among the unclean dead to get in. But Christ the Victor over Death and the one who makes the unclean clean cannot be stopped by a cemetery!
4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,
The prophet is Zechariah and he said “9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.10 And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth. (Zech 9: 9-10) Zechariah foretells a different kind of Messiah. He will be peaceful, speak peace even to the heathen (sinners and Gentiles), and His authority will travel around everywhere. And why upon a donkey? Kings of great power and might ride in on a strong horse. We see that Jesus will do the same when He rides in as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The donkey was portrayed as a peaceful, willing, humble, gift bearer. If we look through scripture we can find interesting pictures portrayed by the lowly donkey. For example:
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: (Gen 49:10-12 Speaking of the King coming from Judah)
And when David was a little past the top of the hill, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of asses saddled, and upon them two hundred loaves of bread, and an hundred bunches of raisins, and an hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle of wine. And the king said unto Ziba, What meanest thou by these? And Ziba said, The asses be for the king's household to ride on; and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat; and the wine, that such as be faint in the wilderness may drink. (2 Sam 16:1-2- peace offering)
The king also said unto them, Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule, and bring him down to Gihon:(I King 1:33- speaking of showing Soloman as King)
7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
This is the week before Passover. It is time to examine the Passover Lamb. What do they see? He is without blemish. He is without sin. He is willing to die for the people that reject Him. The disciples have walked with him for 3 and ½ short years. They have seen miracles galore. John says that if all the things that He did had been written in a book the world could not hold it all. No doubt some of those that are laying down branches and garments have been healed, fed with the multitudes, or witnessed Jesus' teachings. Hosanna means “Pray, Save Us” in Hebrew. In modern-day language, it is a praise to God as well. It is heartbreaking to think that in just a few short days their hosannas will be shouted down by “Crucify Him.”
10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
Who is this? This is our King. This is our Savior. This is our friend that sticks closer than a brother. This is our kinsman redeemer. This is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. This is the beloved son of God, in whom God the Father is well pleased. As you examine this Passover Lamb, consider what He is to you and that this is the most important sacrifice ever.
Points of Discussion
Why is it important to recognize Jesus as the King? How does that affect our daily life?
What is the significance of Jesus being King and Lamb?
If asked to share who Jesus is, would your answer be proven by your actions toward God and toward others?
Discuss why this is called the Triumphant Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.
This particular passage of scripture usually makes me a little sad. Because of hindsight, I understand what happens in just a few short days. It makes my heart break to realize that I am just as guilty with praise one minute and complete rejection the next. I should know better. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. I think scripture has a great way of reminding us that we are flawed. He was not. We cannot earn or do enough things to deserve salvation. He left nothing undone that He was asked to do. He made a way for the most unworthy of us. With much knowledge is much grief. I think that means that as an older Christian, we should be more aware than anyone of how frail and undeserving we are. We cannot forget that it was a sacrifice and we are unworthy. The magnitude of what Jesus did gets bigger the longer you think about it. Thank you, God, for allowing your Son to be the ultimate sacrifice for such a weak and undeserving people. Thank you for your grace and your mercy toward us. And thank you Jesus for leaving the glories of heaven to take upon yourself the body of flesh, to feel the pain, rejection, and endure the shame that it took to repair what was broken. Thank you for showing us all that three days later, you arose from the grave. And that because you live, we can live also! Thank you that when God calls for me, I will not stand in my own righteousness, I will claim the blood of Calvary and your righteousness!
The irony of Palm Sunday is mirrored in churches and in Christian hearts in our present day. It is the case that many come to Jesus expecting to find a way to have their desires met or their problems solved. Many treat the precious Son of God in the same manner they treat a good luck charm or a genie in a bottle. What He gives to those who love Him is far greater than what those who love to use Him could ever even imagine. The truth is He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He is the Alpha and the Omega, He is the power of God and His will will ultimately be accomplished through or in spite of our efforts. At His first coming, He was humble and mee