Click here for the reading: Matthew 21:1-9.
Jesus riding into Jerusalem is a high point in salvation history. He who was born king now claims His kingdom. The promised Son of David enters into the City of David as the fulfillment of God’s promises long ago. Though David had many sons, in what ways did they fall short of the promise God made to David in 2 Samuel 7? How did even the good kings, such as Hezekiah or Josiah, fail? How can we find comfort in Jesus coming to claim His father David’s throne? Consider Psalm 2 and the promise of a King who would rule over the nations.
Before He enters the city, however, Jesus gives explicit instructions to His disciples. “Go and find a donkey tied with her colt and bring them to me.” While Jesus did this to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah, it also showed them a glimpse of His divinity. He knew what they would find and exactly how everything would happen, down to seemingly insignificant details. How else does Jesus show His divine nature even before His ascension? Why are these signs of His divinity important for us? What do they say about the kingdom He has come to claim? Compare the signs Samuel predicted for Saul in 1 Samuel 10 as proof that God had anointed him king over Israel. Why are they so specific? What does that say about Jesus making specific predictions?
Matthew states that Jesus fulfills Zechariah 9:9 as He rides into the city. In that chapter of Zechariah, the Lord declares that the enemies of Israel will be brought down. Damascus, Tyre, Sidon, Philistia, Greece—all of them would be defeated when the Lord saved His people. Jerusalem would no longer be at war, because the Lord’s victory would be complete. How does Jesus riding into Jerusalem fulfill these promises of peace? How does He give us hope in political and worldly terms, especially in the midst of our enemies? Consider passages like Psalm 46 or Psalm 18 which describe the Lord as a warrior defending His people.
The crowds which greet Jesus spread their cloaks, just as the followers of Jehu greeted him as king in 2 Kings 9:13. They even recognized that Jesus was the fulfillment of Psalm 118, since they quoted it in their joy. Yet they failed to understand who Jesus is. “Who is this?” they ask. “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” A prophet, not a king. How could they get so much right and still be so wrong? In what ways do we run the risk of misunderstanding who Jesus is? How does John 1 help us to understand this?
Between this passage and the beginning of Christ’s passion in Matthew 26, Jesus becomes increasingly confrontational. The parables speak about casting out. Jesus openly argues with the Jews who plot to kill Him. He proclaims woes against them and speaks about the end of the temple and the end of all things. How is Jesus entering Jerusalem the tipping point? Why does rejecting Jesus now carry so high a price? Why does Advent carry a sense of urgency different from the rest of the year? Consider John 19:15 and its consequences for us.