The Once and Future King (Matthew 21:1-11)

Sermon Notes from Sunday, October 9, 2011. Delivered by Rev. Joe Troutman at Mid-Cities Presbyterian Church (OPC). Listen online.

Jesus comes into Jerusalem as king, but in a week’s time he will have been crucified and raised from the dead for sinners like you and me.

Westminster Shorter Catechism 26

Q. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?

A. Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us (Psalm 110:3; Matthew 28:18-20; John 17:2; Colossians 1:13), and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies (Psalm 2:6-9; Psalm 110:1-2; Matthew 12:28; 1 Corinthians 15:24-26; Colossians 2:15).

“The Lord Has Need of Them” (Matthew 21:1-5) Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

  • Jesus demonstrates that he is Israel’s Messiah by fulfilling Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9
    • Behold, the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.”(Isaiah 62:11 ESV)
    • Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9 ESV)
  • What was this need? To show us that “[our] salvation comes” (Is. 62:11)
    • “By sending for the donkey and colt, Jesus is giving us what we need to believe in him as our Savior.”
    • Our need was for a Passover Lamb—we need Someone to die in our place; to wash us clean; to be protected and redeemed from our captivity to sin.
    • To those who need God to show that he is real, he has done so by these prophecies of Israel’s Messiah, and their fulfillment hundreds of years later in Jesus of Nazareth.
      • God shows us that he is the true God of Israel: the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and that Jesus is the true King of Israel, who subdues sinners to himself, rules and defends us who believe, and restrains and conquers all his and our enemies.

 “Hosanna” (Matthew 21:6-9) The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

  • Foreshadowed in Jehu’s servants’ response to Jehu’s anointing as King of Israel, and prophecy to defeat the evil king Ahab
    • Then in haste every man of them took his garment and put it under him on the bare steps, and they blew the trumpet and proclaimed, “Jehu is king.”  (2 Kings 9:13 ESV).
    • In crying “Hosanna (Heb. “O Save!” ) to the Son of David!”, the people declare who Jesus is, the rightful King of Israel.
    • In crying “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” the people sing a portion of the Hallel (Psalms 113-118)—a portion of which is sung after the drinking of “the Cup of Redemption” during the Passover seder (see Psalm 118:26a). Jesus comes to redeem his people from sin, as God redeemed Israel from Egypt.
  • Parallels between Israel’s captivity in Egypt and their present occupation by Rome spark strong Jewish nationalism during the Passover season. Rome watches for seditious behavior. The notion of a pretender to the throne of Israel is the very kind of threat for which they watch, and this makes Christ’s entry into Jerusalem especially dangerous. But notice the humility of this King who enters triumphantly, not on a warhorse, but rather on a lowly donkey.

“The King Enters His City” (Matthew 21:10-11)   And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

  • Christ enters Jerusalem but is not recognized by her citizens as their long-awaited King.
    • The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. (John 1:9-11 ESV)
      • Foreshadows Christ’s rejection by the people at the end of this Passion Week. Jesus comes to Jerusalem as King, but Jerusalem was not his Kingdom.
      • When Jesus walked the earth, his Kingdom was located wherever he went. Jesus wasn’t entering his Kingdom in his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, he brought his Kingdom with him. Christ’s Kingdom is “not of this world” (see John 18:36).
  •  Christ does triumphantly enter to conquer, but not to conquer the Romans.
    •  The Triumphal Entry clearly showed that Jesus was Messiah according to Zechariah 9:9.
    •  The Triumphal Entry set in motion the events that would lead to his crucifixion.
    •  The Triumphal Entry threatens Rome, but Christ’s act in the following passage will be a threat to the Jewish priests and other religious leaders.
  •  Christ did not come to overthrow the Romans and reign in Jerusalem, but to die on a cross for the very people who sent him there: sinners like you and me. He went willingly, but it was yours and my sins which drove him to the cross. He went lovingly to suffer and to die for those who will come to believe. In his crucifixion, the King of Israel will conquer by accomplishing the salvation of his people.
  •  The King came once riding on the foal of a donkey; he went unrecognized by some, met with indifference by others and still others met him with hostility. He was openly rejected and nailed to a cross.
  • But the King will come again riding on the clouds with power and glory (Matthew 24:30). The time of his return remains hidden but he will come to judge as the Ruler of the earth.
    • At this time, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (see Philippians 2:9-11).
      • Those who already believe, trust and love Jesus will rejoice at his coming and will kneel again.
      • Those who refuse to humbly submit to the Lord in response to his first coming will be humbled and bowed against their wills when he returns to judge.

Everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will bow his knee willingly, lovingly, obediently and instantly. Repent, believe in him—today—now!—while it’s still called today (see Hebrews 3:13), so that when he comes in glory he will know you as his own and you will rejoice at his coming and not be fearful.

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3 responses

  1. Which one did he ride into town on? The donkey or the colt, or both???

    Jovially,
    The Watcher

    1. Jesus rode on the colt alone.

      As can be clearly seen in verse five, the coming king would be “mounted on a donkey.” This prophecy was written in the form of Hebrew parallelism. The second line gives us more information about what kind of “donkey” on which the coming king would be mounted: “on a colt” which is “the foal of a beast of burden.” This alone makes it clear that Jesus was to ride on the offspring of the donkey, and this offspring alone—he would not dismount along the way, or after his arrival, nor would he be engaging in “circus acts” involving both animals. This happens to be made even less ambiguous by the parallel Gospel accounts of Luke 19:28-40 and Mark 11:1-11, which happen to exclude reference to the beast of burden which bore this colt, and making the additional point that the beast Jesus would ride is one “on which no one has ever yet sat” (Mark 11:2 and Luke 19:30).

      It was definitely the colt, and the colt alone, which Jesus rode in his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

  2. Reblogged this on The Misadventures of Captain Headknowledge and commented:

    Today is Palm Sunday, 2013. Today’s post is a rerun of my notes on my pastor’s sermon on Christ’s Triumphal Entry. Don’t miss the discussion of the donkey in the comments thread.

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