Let’s open our Bibles to Matthew chapter 21. I want to read for you verses 1 through 11 as a setting for our message this morning. With this chapter in our study of Matthew, we begin the last week of the life of our Lord. “And when they drew near unto Jerusalem and were come to Bethphage, unto the Mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, saying unto them, ‘Go into the village opposite you and straightway ye shall find an ass tied and a colt with her; loose them, and bring them unto Me. And if any man say anything unto you, you shall say, ‘The Lord hath need of them;’ and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, ‘Tell ye the daughter of Zion, “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek and sitting upon an ass and a colt, the foal of an ass.”’
“And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them. 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 spread them in the way. 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.’ And when He was come into Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, ‘Who is this?’ And the multitude said, ‘This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.’
Now we don’t have kings in America. In fact, we were established out of an anti-king revolution. As a result of this, we know very little of the pomp and majesty and ceremony that attends a coronation. Perhaps the closest we ever come to that kind of thing is when we watch the British royal family, going through the various kinds of ceremonies that they do, exposed to us on television. But as far as hands-on acquaintance with monarchy and ceremony and coronation, it’s not really familiar to us. But in our text, we find a coronation, as truly a coronation as any coronation ever was, for this is truly a King. And He is affirmed as a king and He is inaugurated into His Kingship, in a sense, in this very passage. But as little as we know about coronations, we know enough to know that this isn’t like any of the ones we’ve ever been exposed to. I mean, it doesn’t quite seem like the coronations with which history has been familiar. I mean, when have we ever seen a king riding on a donkey’s colt, meek and lowly, with people throwing tree branches and old clothes in his path? There seems to be something missing, especially when you compare it with the coronations of the world.
Europe, for example, which sort of sets the pace for the western world in its understanding of coronations, has given us a long history of the pomp and the glory and the splendor and the majesty and the wealth of those events in which a king is inaugurated into his royal and regal status. Sometimes he was raised on a shield. Sometimes he was made to stand on a sacred stone. Sometimes he was presented with a spear or with a sword or with a scepter or given a crown or given a robe of great distinction to mark out the inauguration into that official place of king. And traditionally in Europe, they even borrowed from the inauguration or coronation of David and Saul by adding some religious features and wanted to assign to the secular kings divine rights as kings. And therefore they brought the men of God, the bishops or the priests, to affirm the sovereign right of a king. It was a grand and glorious occasion, usually followed by great feastings and banquets. There was splendor everywhere, rich people in rich clothing, jewels, horses, carriages, archbishops, famous dignitaries everyplace. Everything pointed to the glory of the individual being crowned, his majesty, his military might and power and so forth.
I don’t know if you know it, but just as an indication of some of the falderal and the wealth that goes along with all of that, a crown was made for Queen Victoria in 1838. The crown was made all out of rubies and sapphires of monstrous proportions. In the middle of it was a 309 carat diamond. And the scepter which she took in her hand had a diamond on top of it of five-hundred and sixteen and a half carats cut from the Star of Africa. Events of tremendous, almost inconceivable wealth, coronations were events of great splendor. But this is not like those coronations: a donkey’s colt, a bunch of branches, and some old clothes. But then this is no ordinary king, and He has no ordinary kingdom. He said to Pilate, “I am not a king like you think kings are. My kingdom is not of this world.”
Now this is a very important event in these eleven verses because it initiates the last week of the life of our Lord prior to His crucifixion. It is the last drama. It is His last public act prior to being crucified, the last event of His ministry. And it has to be treated with a great amount of respect, and it has to be understood for what it really is or you won’t understand what comes after it. I really feel that the earthly coronation of Jesus Christ, sometimes called the triumphal entry, gets bypassed far too much. It is a very significant event. And you’ll see that significance unfold as we examine it together.
I want you to get the scene now. Verse 1 tells us, Jesus comes to Jerusalem, and it sets for us the setting. “And when they drew near to Jerusalem and were come to Bethphage, unto the Mount of Olives” – we’ll stop there. As we begin to see the unfolding of this marvelous coronation, I want you to notice, first of all, the end of the pilgrimage. We’ll call point one the end of the pilgrimage. It is the end. Jerusalem was to be the end. He never ever leaves the vicinity of Jerusalem. This is it. He dies in the city. This is the end of 33 years. Thirty years of obscurity, three-plus years of ministry, it all ends here. This is the end of the pilgrimage. The goal of the Lord’s life and ministry is about to be reached.
Now I’m not going to go back and try to sum up all that’s gone before. We’ve traced it all the way through the first 20 chapters of Matthew. But just to bring you right into this scene, the Lord a few weeks before had left Galilee. He had ministered throughout Galilee. He had ministered some in Judea where Jerusalem was the major city, of course. But He had yet really touched Peraea which was the region called the beyond which was east of Jordan. So in leaving Galilee this time, He went east of the Jordan and through the area known as Peraea. And He did what He did everywhere. He preached, He taught, He healed, and He presented to them His credentials as King.
And as He came to the south, moving through Peraea, He was moving directly toward Jerusalem at the same time, knowing it was Passover time, knowing it was time to come to the end of His pilgrimage, knowing it was time to get ready to die. And as He moved, He moved among pilgrims who also were going. And so a crowd collected as He came to the south. And finally He crossed the Jordan, back over to Judea. And He crossed at Jericho, went through the city of Jericho. There He embraced in His salvation a small man by the name of Zacchaeus, healed two blind men – one of whose name was Bartimaeus. And not only those three, perhaps, but even more than that collected with Him, and together they moved up to Jerusalem. So it’s been a few weeks since He left Galilee, ministered in Peraea, came through Jericho, and now He ascends to Jerusalem. And it’s only about 17 miles, but it’s 3,000 feet in elevation. And so when it says, “He went up to Jerusalem,” or when anyone went up to Jerusalem, they really went up from Jericho. And so by now He’s collected an entourage of people. And they’re moving to that great event called Passover. Little do they know that He is the Passover lamb.
At the same time, the city is literally teeming with humanity. Masses of people are there. There was a census ten years after this particular event when there was a counting of the sacrificial lambs, and the count is somewhere around 260,000 Passover lambs that were slaughtered during that week ten years later. And if that’s the case – the Jewish law prescribed one lamb for ten people – there could have been as many as 2.6 million people in the city. So it would have been literally teeming with mobs of people. So, there they were, flowing in the city and flowing to the city. And Jesus was taking the primary moment in the history of Israel’s calendar year for this great event, when the city was swelled to its greatest population.
And it says in verse 1, “When they drew near to Jerusalem.” Before He went into the city, He came to a place called Bethphage. Now we don’t know anything about this place. We don’t know anything at all about it. We can’t find any archaeological evidence of its existence. It was some kind of a hamlet somewhere near Bethany, because in verse 2 it says He sent two disciples saying, “Go into the village opposite you.” And when He sent them, He was in Bethany. So it’s somewhere near Bethany. Bethany is two miles east of Jerusalem, just on the other side of the valley Kedron, the Mount of Olives, on the backside of the Mount of Olives. And we don’t know where Bethphage is, but it’s in the district of the Mount of Olives. Bethany is there also and Jerusalem is just a two-mile walk from there. And so, Jesus arrives in Bethphage and then in Bethany.
Now John gives us an interesting note. Turn to John chapter 12, and I think it’s worth our consideration briefly. John chapter 12 verse 1 says, “Then Jesus” – and this is at the same moment – “six days before the Passover” – six days before the Passover – “came to Bethany.” So first to Bethphage and then over to Bethany. Why Bethany? “Where Lazarus was who had been raised from the dead. And they made Him a supper and Martha served” – as she always does. You know, Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem, but before He goes into the city He stops. And He goes to Bethany because that was where His friends lived, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Dear friends, I suppose from an earthly standpoint. With the exception of the apostles themselves, these were the three dearest people in Jesus’ life. And as He approaches the inevitable week of pain and death, He seeks out the comfort and the compassion and the care of His beloved friends. And Bethany becomes for Him, for these six days, a resting place. He spends the time with His dear beloved friends. But even there, the stabs of hell are present, because one of the disciples, Judas Iscariot who was to betray Him, said, “Why was not this ointment sold for 300 denarii and given to the poor? And this he said not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief and he had the bag.” And so even there He was stabbed with the stabs of hell. The hate for Jesus was relentless.
Six days before the Passover. I believe that’s Saturday – six days before the Passover, and there was a supper in His honor, and He was anointed. And He was loved by everybody but one, and it must have been a warm and wonderful time. Six days before the Lamb of God, the Passover lamb, the true sacrifice, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world is to be offered; six days from the nails; six days from the thorns, the spit, the cursings, the spear, the crown, the hatred, the bitterness, the sin bearing, the loneliness of being God-forsaken; six days – that’s all.
Well, the next day – the next day, John tells us in verses 9 to 11 of chapter 12, that many Jews came to Bethany to see Him – many Jews. And there was a great gathering about Him, so much so that the leaders were very concerned as to how they might kill Him, because He was such a threat. So it seems as though when He arrives, there’s some affirmation coming from Lazarus and Mary and Martha, coming from the people. It looks good. With the exception of Judas, it looks good. And the coronation is near, and He knows that. And maybe we might say, boy, everything is really on schedule. He’s being anointed. His friends are caring for Him. Many people are moving out to see Him who have heard of His power in raising Lazarus from the dead, which He had already done. And everyone knew Lazarus. And that’s how it all starts.
Now let’s go back to Matthew 21. The first day He arrives there, He has supper; He’s anointed. The next day, a multitude gathers to Him. And probably on the next day, which most likely was Monday, Jesus sent two disciples, it says in verse 1, and Jesus here initiates, He initiates His own coronation. He sets it in motion. They don’t come and get Him and haul Him off. Those critics of Scripture who say that Jesus got carried away in the enthusiasm of the mob, that Jesus was pushed into something He never intended to happen, that Jesus was happy to be a moral teacher, just moving around doing nice things for nice folks, all of a sudden started to get caught up in the energy of His own disciples’ enthusiasm, and they pushed Him into something that ultimately got Him killed, they’re liars who say that, because that’s not true. He initiated everything. He controlled every element of His own ministry, every turn, every action was sovereignly His to initiate. So He dispatched two disciples. It doesn’t tell us which two. On another occasion, in Luke 22:8 when He sent out two, it was Peter and John. It may have been Peter and John here. We don’t know. And He said, “Go to the village,” verse 2, “opposite you” – which would be Bethphage – “and immediately you’ll find an ass tied and a colt with her: loose them and bring them unto Me.” He was about ready to go into the city. He was controlling everything. Let me tell you why.
He wanted to demonstrate to the world that He was no victim, that He was not caught up in some euphoric Messianic movement, but that it was all under His total control, and it was all within His own power. Every detail was worked out accurately. And He wanted to create a mass demonstration. That’s right. He wanted the people to cry “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.” He wanted them to cry out that He was the Messiah, because He wanted it in their very mouths that He had indeed proved Himself to be who He was. He wanted them to bespeak the fact that there was no doubt about the credentials of Jesus Christ. He wanted that whole mob, that whole national multitude to be crying out that this was the Messiah, so that forever and always it could never be said they really didn’t have enough information. They knew what He had taught and they knew what He had done. And the climax of it all was the resurrection of Lazarus whom they had known to be dead for four days. And out of their own mouths came their own affirmation that became for them either the statement of their true belief or the statement of their damnation, because they knew who He was. And He set the scene to put it in their own mouths, and they said it. The credentials were overwhelming. The proof was unanswerable.
And there is another reason that He created this mass demonstration, and that is because it would lead to the anger of the Pharisees, which ultimately would lead them to desire His life, which would ultimately lead to His crucifixion. And He had to set that in motion, too, because it was important not only that He be selected as the Lamb to die, but that He die on the Passover day. And He had to set that all in motion. I don’t know if you know this, but the day He rode in there, on Monday, was the day traditionally that the Jews selected their lamb for sacrifice. And He offered Himself on that day as the Lamb for the whole world. And He had set it in motion so that by Friday the Passover day, He would die. And so Jesus took charge of all the events, creating the situation as He wanted to create it. He also did what He did here, sending the disciples to get these two animals, in order to fulfill prophecy, as it says in verse 4. “It was all done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet.” He was in control of everything. He was on a divine schedule. And so He initiated His own coronation. And so we begin then with the end of the pilgrimage. And we see Him as He arrives at Jerusalem.
Now I want you to look at a second feature of this passage. And I like to call it the exactness of prophecy – the exactness of prophecy. He is going to be the king the prophets predicted. I want you to turn, for just a moment, to Zechariah 9:9. Zechariah, just go two books to your left, Matthew, Malachi, Zechariah. And in the first eight verses of Zechariah 9, there’s a prophecy of a great ruler that’ll come. And this great ruler is going to come, and there’s going to be a deliverance for Israel under him. I mean, he’s really a great ruler. Talks about how he’ll deliver them from the Syrians and the Philistia and all of their surrounding enemies, and he’ll save Israel. Basically verses 1 to 8 is a prophecy of Alexander the Great – Alexander the Great who was a human conqueror. But after Alexander the Great, they’ll come a greater than he, and verse 9 is a contrast. Alexander is just used for comparison.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion. Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem. Behold, thy King cometh unto thee.” Man, there’s coming a king. Alexander and his military triumph, riding on his great white horse with all of his entourage, flashing his sword in the sun, with his great crown signifying him as the conqueror of the world, the great military genius of Alexander with all of his entourage had come to the rescue of Israel. But there is coming another King. “He is righteous and He has salvation.” And then this seemingly inconceivable and contradictory statement, “Lowly and riding on an ass and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” Somebody says, what in the world is that? Nobody rides a donkey at a coronation. Donkeys used to have a place in the world until Solomon came along in the land of Palestine, and Solomon made the horse the animal of dignity and honor and war. And donkeys became nothing but stupid beasts of burden, and nobody rode a donkey, certainly not at a coronation. But, says the prophet, your king will ride one.
Now go back to Matthew chapter 21. And it says, “Go into the village opposite you,” in verse 2, “and immediately you’re going to find that donkey and a colt with her: loose them and bring them to Me.” Go into that little village, Bethphage, located somewhere in the vicinity of the Mount of Olives, 2600 foot-high ridge northeast of Jerusalem. And just as you get into the village, right away you’re going to find these two animals. How do You know that? Well, we could say He had supernatural knowledge and be right. But I kind of think He knew the folks that lived there and He knew they had these animals. Because He knew that they would respond, He says, “If they ask you anything, just tell them the Lord has need of it and they’ll send the animals with you.” So He must have known that these were believers. They would not withhold their animals from the Lord. By the way, Mark 11:2 tells us exactly where the two animals were found. And Mark and Luke both tell us, this is very interesting, that neither of them had ever been ridden – neither of them had ever been ridden. You say, is that important? Yes, because it was an honor for someone to ride an animal who had never been ridden. To ride a young animal that had never been ridden was as if to say, “This animal has been saved for you,” very special.
You say, “Well why do they have to take the mother if He’s going to ride the colt?” Well, a donkey’s tough enough to get going and to keep in the right direction. And a donkey colt would be doubly difficult unless you took the mother. And if you led the mother, the colt would follow. Well why ride the colt? Why not ride the mother?” Because the colt is more lowly than its mother, and He seeks out the lowliest stupid beast of burden He can find. You say, this isn’t a coronation like any other. That’s right. He’s not a king like any other. And just tell them, He says, the Lord has need of them – sovereign Lordship – and they’ll respond and send them with you.
And verse 4, “All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet.” We just read it, Zechariah 9:9. It’s just what the prophet said. “Tell ye the daughter of Zion” – or say to the daughter of Zion. What does that mean? Well that simply means the people of Jerusalem. A city is seen as the offspring of its locality. Zion is another name for the city, for the area, because Zion is the highest point. It’s higher than Mount Moriah. It’s a little south of Mount Moriah but it’s the highest point. The city became known by its highest promontory, Zion. “Tell,” it says, “the daughter of Zion” – that is the people who are the offspring of its locality or its region. Tell the population of Jerusalem – “Behold, thy King comes unto thee.” Oh, that sounds great. And then the same line, “Meek and riding on an ass, a colt the foal of an ass.” So incongruous that the King of kings and Lord of lords, the long-promised Messiah of Israel, the conqueror of the world ultimately, God’s Son, under whose feet all enemies will ultimately be subject, should come riding in on a donkey’s colt. But that’s what the prophet said. And that’s what came to pass.
He’s not a king like Alexander the Great. Not at all. He’s not a foreign tyrant; He’s Israel’s own king. He’s not cruel and oppressive; He’s righteous and bringing salvation, says Zechariah 9:9. Literally the text says, “Showing Himself a Savior.” He’s not slaying; He’s saving. He’s not rich; He’s poor. He’s not proud; He’s meek. He’s not riding a great steed; He’s riding a donkey’s colt. You say, what’s the point? The point is, He’s a king unlike any other king, and He has a coronation unlike any other coronation. It’s a strange coming by kingly standards. But He’s declaring who He is in a very important way.
Now listen carefully. The people wanted a military Messiah. They wanted one who would come in and by great power overthrow Rome. He was coming directly in a way that would show them that He was not interested in doing that. Had He come in on a white horse with a flashing sword in His hand, they would have known what He was coming to do. But riding on a donkey’s colt weaponless, meek and lowly was different. Had He come with a retinue of armed soldiers, it would have been one thing – but a whole bunch of pilgrims. Had He come with great wealth, but all He had thrown in front of Him was tree branches and old clothes. It’s all very extraordinary. But you see, He deliberately arranged it all to fulfill prophecy because prophecy was consistent with who He was. Listen carefully. He did not come to make war with Rome, He came to make peace with God for men. He did not come into the world to make war with Rome on behalf of the Jews, but to make peace with God. He came as one offering peace. You see, you have to take Jesus for who He is, not for who you want Him to be.
Well, verse 6 says the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. We can understand that, can’t we? They did just what He told them to do. And they weren’t sure which one He was going to ride, so they put their clothes on both of them. Verse 7, “They brought the ass and the colt and put on them their clothes and set Him thereon.” Probably took off their outer robe and put it on each animal so that He could sit on either one and have some material between Himself and the sweat of the animal’s back. They didn’t know which one He was going to ride, but He choose to ride the lowliest one. Luke 19:35 says, “He took His seat on the colt with the help of the disciples.” They even helped Him up. And the mother would lead the colt along. And so He fulfills the prophecy.
Can I add a footnote here? It isn’t the only prophecy He fulfilled that day. One of the most monumental passages in all the Bible is Daniel 9:24 to 27. And Daniel prophesies there that from the decree of Artaxerxes to rebuild the temple and the city to the coming of Messiah, the Prince, will be 69 weeks of years, 69 times 7, 483 years. And we went through that in detail in Daniel, so I’m not going to go through it again. But the prophet Daniel said there will be a period of time that amounts basically to 173,880 days from the decree of Artaxerxes to the coming of the Prince. And biblical scholars have affirmed that to be exactly what happened. Whether you go backwards in time to Sir Robert Anderson’s book The Coming Prince, He establishes a decree of Artaxerxes at a certain point in time and exactly the length that Daniel prophesied to the very day, Jesus enters the city as the Messiah, the coming Prince. Or whether you take the newer chronology with later information that Harold Hoehner has developed in his book Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, he sees the same time period beginning at a certain date and ending exactly on that very day that Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem. He was fulfilling prophecy, the prophecy of Zechariah and the prophecy of Daniel. If you want more detail on that, just get the tapes that we did on that passage in Daniel. And so this is a tremendous, tremendous fulfillment of prophecy. Which adds to the reality that this is the Messiah, even though at this point the disciples didn’t see it all clearly. So we see the end of the pilgrimage, the exactness of prophecy. He comes in humiliation as Zechariah said He would.
Now I want you to see the epitome of praise. Let’s look at the response in verses 8 and 9, most fascinating. “And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way.” They threw their clothes down, creating some kind of a carpet for Him. And I mean, this is a very great multitude. When it says that, it means it – probably hundreds of thousands of people. Notice verse 9, “And the multitudes that went before and that followed ” – now that helps us understand the multitude. You see, you’ve got one massive multitude coming with Jesus to Jerusalem. They’ve been collected in Galilee, down through Peraea. They’ve been collected as He crossed the Jordan through Jericho, up the hill to Bethany. He’s been in Bethany. The crowd has swelled as people have come there to see Him there. And now that whole entourage is with Him. They’re surging toward the city. And out of the city comes this massive humanity that are already there that have heard of Him raising Lazarus from the dead. They hear He’s coming. The word goes like wildfire. And like two great surging seas, they come together just outside the gate of Jerusalem, this mass of humanity. And in the middle of it all, Jesus rides a donkey’s colt.
The people have really disregarded their leaders, because at the end of John 11 we are told there that the Pharisees warned the people that if they knew anything about Him they were to report Him so that they could capture Him and take Him prisoner. They were certainly not to worship Him or pay Him homage or hail Him. But they disregarded their orders. And their expectations for Messianic deliverance were so great that the whole thing turned into a credible mob scene. It was just a total, total chaotic event from the standpoint of the Pharisees and the religious leaders. Everything was out of hand. The people were going mad for this Jesus – throwing down their clothes. What did that mean? Well, you go back to 2 Kings 9 about verse 13, they did that for Jehu when he was coronated. It’s as if to say, I’m under your feet. I take a place of submission to you. I throw myself at your feet. You may walk over me, in that sense of humiliation.
And the palm branches they threw down, palm branches – indicated in John 12 to be palm branches. Here it doesn’t say what they were – were signs of salvation, symbols of joy. You can read about it in Revelation 7:9. They’re waved at a time of great joy, a time of celebrating salvation. And so they’re celebrating salvation. There’s a joy. There’s an excitement, an ecstasy as He comes in. They knew who He was. They knew what He taught. And they knew what He’d done. And they knew He could raise the dead. And so this multitude moves out, throws everything at His feet. And they cry out – look what they cry, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” Hosanna means save now – save now – save now. They’re crying for salvation. Now listen to me. But it is not soul salvation. It is military deliverance they’re after.
You see, they know what this event is. It’s Passover. And what does Passover celebrate for a Jew? Passover celebrates the deliverance from Egypt. Right? How God delivered His people out of bondage, how God delivered them out of the captivity of Egypt. And that’s all on their minds, that God is a delivering God, that God has delivered us from Egypt in the past. We celebrate that. And now here, at the very time we celebrate our delivering God, comes a new deliverer to deliver us from Rome, to deliver us from the bondage of the present era. And so the euphoria escalates and it is an odd pageant. A man on a donkey without an army, without a weapon and a mass of hundreds of thousands of people crushing around Him, crying out, “Save now. Deliver now.” They wanted material kingdom, physical kingdom, earthly deliverance. And so He comes with a retinue of rabble, poor common people crying out for deliverance. And they know who He is. Hosanna to the Son of David. You think they didn’t know what that meant? They knew well what it meant.
Second Samuel chapter 7 verses 12 and 13, where God promises David a Son, the Son of David who will reign on an eternal throne in an eternal kingdom. They knew that was a Messianic title. Indeed it was a Messianic title. And they’re crying out “Deliver us, O Messiah.” And they are putting in their own mouths the affirmation of the fact that His credentials were convincing. And they even cry out from the Psalms, the Hallel which are the praise psalms, 113 to 118. And they say things out of the one-hundred and eighteenth Psalm which was the conqueror’s Psalm, crying, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord,” Psalm 118:26. This is our conqueror. The one coming in the name of the Lord is a Messianic epithet. So they believe this is their Messiah. By the way, they hailed the same Psalm at Simon Maccabeus a hundred years before, when he had conquered Acra, that God had sent them a deliverer then. Now they see a deliverer now, only this deliverer is Thou Son of David. This is the Messiah.
So when anybody comes along and says the Jewish people didn’t understand who Jesus was, that’s true to a point. But the credentials had convinced them that He was the Messiah, they just didn’t understand the nature of His Messiahship. They knew He was the King, they just didn’t understand the nature of His kingdom. And they sum it up at the end when they say, “We will not have this man to” – what? – “reign over” – this isn’t the kind of king we want. This isn’t the one we bargained for. And like people today and people in all times who want Jesus, but they want the Jesus of their own devising. They want the Jesus of their own invention. They want the Jesus who walks in and says, “I’m going to solve all your problems. I’m going to deliver you from all your enemies. I’m going to make life wonderful for you.” Not the Jesus who having come in the city, immediately takes a whip and cleans up their dirty house. He didn’t come and overthrow Rome; He came and overthrew the temple. See? That was a terrible turning point. Instead of coming in and knocking off Rome; He came in and wiped out their temple. He was saying to them, you don’t need Roman bondage broken. You need sin bondage broken. You don’t need to solve your problem with Rome. You need to solve your problem with God. And that’s why He came. And He was not the Jesus who comes to offer a panacea for external ills. He was the Jesus who comes to offer men and women peace with God internally. Oh they knew who He was. The credentials had convinced them of that. They said it, “Save now, Son of David. Blessed be He that comes in the name of the Lord.” And then they even said, “Hosanna in the highest.” Highest means the abode of God. “Glory to God,” they were saying. “Praise to God who has sent His special emissary, the one coming from God who is the Messiah, our deliverer. Deliver us.” So, they hailed their conquering King. And they use all the right verbiage. And they were filled with anticipation. They were so excited that He would crush Rome. But instead, as we shall see in our next study, He went in and cleaned up their temple, tried to uncover the sinfulness of their sin.
Well, it’s an unusual coronation, isn’t it? It really is. And they wouldn’t accept Him on His own terms, so by the end of the week, they cried for His blood and killed Him. Just unimaginable. The world is still like that. You know, people are open to the Jesus they want, the Jesus of their own definition if He gives them what they want: health, wealth, and happiness; instant healing; whatever. But as soon as He confronts the sinfulness of sin and seeks to turn the heart toward God in true salvation, they curse Him. That’s not the Jesus they want. That’s not the king they want.
Well, I confess to you that after studying this, I thought to myself, “This is a kind of a sad coronation for the greatest King of the universe.” It doesn’t seem fitting that this is all the coronation He would have. And so I turned in my Bible to Revelation chapter 5 and I need you to do that too, because I don’t want you to think that that’s the only coronation Jesus will ever know. I would like to give you a glimpse of the real heavenly coronation of Revelation 5. The Lamb takes the scroll, verse 8 says, “The four living creatures, the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden bowls full of incense which are the prayers of saints. And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Thou art worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals. For Thou wast slain and hast redeemed a God by Thy blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation and hast made us unto our God a kingdom of priests, and we shall reign on the earth.’
“And I beheld and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the living creatures and the elders and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.’ And every creature that is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea and all that are in them heard I saying, ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb forever and ever.’ And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen.’ And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshiped Him that liveth forever and ever.”
Now that’s a coronation. And that will be His coronation. But the world has to understand that the first time He came, He came as a suffering servant to provide men salvation. The second time He comes, He comes as a conquering King to grant to men His sovereignty. And unless you see Him as the suffering servant, you’ll never know Him in His sovereign glory. The crowd wouldn’t take Him on His terms.
This account closes with what I’ll call the element of perplexity. And it’s a good place for us to conclude, verses 10 and 11. It’s a good insight into mob psychology, by the way. “And when He was come into Jerusalem, all the city was stirred” – literally shaken. The verb means to be shaken – “saying, ‘Who is this?’” Isn’t that interesting? That just fascinates me. It’s like the guy at the party who is just having a time of his life and says, “Hey, what are we celebrating? This is a great party. What are we celebrating?” The crowd is just moved, swept up. The whole mood of the mob, see, is sweeping through, and people are caught up in the whole deal and they say, “Who is this Messiah? Who are we hailing? Who is it?” And they’re perplexed.
Even the disciples were perplexed. John 12:16 says, “The disciples didn’t understand what was going on until after Jesus was glorified.” It wasn’t until He went to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit that they got the picture. Oh, now I understand why He got on that donkey’s colt. Now I understand why it had to be on that day. Oh, now it’s all clear why He came in humiliation. But, see, they didn’t get the picture either. They didn’t even understand the cross till the Spirit of God revealed it to them. And if the disciples were confused, you can imagine how confused the rest of the crowd was. They were hailing Him as a king, but they really didn’t know who He was, some of them. And so the others were saying, “This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” And the word went through, “Who is the Messiah? Who is the Messiah?” It’s Jesus, that prophet of Galilee who came from the town of Nazareth. So there’s no question here, folks. God in this passage is telling the whole world that the Jewish nation knew exactly who their Messiah was.
I mean, the evidence was in. There was no question about it. They were hailing Jesus from the village of Nazareth in the region of Galilee who was a prophet, and they had affirmed that on many occasions, as the one who was the Son of David, who was coming from the Lord to bring deliverance. They knew who He was. Do you know who He is? You see, the problem for them was they knew who He was, and they saw His power and they heard His words but they did not want His kingdom on His terms. They were so earthbound, so materialistic, so physical, if you will, that all they wanted was whatever was for this world and this life. They were not interested in a spiritual kingdom. They did not care to be confronted about their sins. And when that came about, they cursed Him – they cursed Him. And they were so fickle. Some of them here who are led by the euphoria of well-meaning mob members, if you will, or crowd members, are later led by evil intended Pharisees who screamed for His blood. And they know little more about Him then than they do here. They just chime in.
So, that’s how it is with Jesus. He offers Himself as a King and there are a few who understand – a few. And they embrace Him as the King that He is, the King of peace who brings salvation and makes men right with God. And then there is a group of people who understand who He is, and they see all of His credentials, but they’re looking for external stuff. They want the materialistic kingdom: health, wealth, happiness, here now, give it to me fast. And they’re not willing to face the reality of their sinfulness and emptiness and estrangement from God, and so they curse Him when He confronts that. And then there is the rabble crowd that just get caught up in the sweep and can go either way. How is it with you?
Our Father, we thank You for this Word. It speaks to us volumes about our Savior. And we have to ask our own hearts where would I be in that crowd? There were the disciples who were kind of confused. And then there was the crowd that was willing to accept Jesus on their terms, not His. And then there were those folks who just got caught up in the whole thing and whichever way the crowd went, they went that way. Some who wanted to believe and just needed more understanding, some who would have believed if it had been like they wanted it, some who could believe or not believe, just whichever way the crowd went. And it isn’t any different now, Lord.
This morning we’ve put ourselves there. We were there that day. We felt the crowd today. We felt the scene. And some of us are like the disciples, we know who He is and we believe and we love Him. And we want to understand more and we want the Holy Spirit to teach us more. And if we haven’t yet believed, we want to believe and we want to receive the King on His terms. And some, Lord, are part of that crowd that wants Jesus to do for them what they want, to be their genie, solves their problems, gets them out of their difficulties, picks up the pieces of their misspent deeds. And then there’s that sort of pliable mass that just flow with the crowd. Help us, Lord, to see where we are, to seek to be where You want us to be.
Father, we long for the day when the King has His coronation in glory, and we can join with that angelic host and all the redeemed of all the ages and sing His praise, see Him mount the throne and take the scepter to rule forever as King of kings and Lord of lords. But until that day, we thank You that He is come meek and lowly as a King of peace, not to subject men unwillingly to His rule but to draw them to His salvation. May it be that hearts are turned to Him this day.
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