THE TRIUMPHANT ENTRY
MATTHEW 21:1-19 PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH 02 APRIL 2023
Today is Palm Sunday. It is one week before Resurrection Sunday. It is also the last week of Jesus’ life on earth. This week is known as Holy Week.
Before Jesus arrives in Jerusalem there is much excitement. And as He comes through the gates of the city, we hear shouts of joy. The crowd gathers in front of Jesus and behind Him as He rides into Jerusalem upon the donkey.
This is the beginning of the week. This week the people will see many other events as the week progresses.
Faithful followers will become deserters. They will fear for their own life. Jesus will be arrested, tried, sentenced, beaten, and finally nailed to a cross where He will die.
Jesus knew the purpose of His earthly mission. He knew what was going to happen during His time in Jerusalem this week. He was already carrying the weight of the Cross upon His heart. Jesus told His disciples three times what was going to happen to Him, but they did not seem to understand.
Jesus’ death and resurrection was God’s way of giving His children an opportunity to form a right relationship with Him and spend eternity with Him in His kingdom. Each of us – all mankind - has a sinful nature. We cannot save ourselves. But God has a loving heart, an abundance of grace, and a willingness to take into His arms anyone who will call upon the name of His Son Jesus Christ.
The Father sent His Son into the world for our benefit – for one purpose. His sole purpose was to pay the debt we owe due to our sin against God.
This was God’s plan from the very beginning, even before sin ever entered the world. He knew and saw the big picture. He always sees u, and He always knows how we will live. He created man and He knows the heart of His creation in mankind.
Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God’s love is a special kind of love that reaches out to every man, woman, and child who will respond to His Word, by repenting of their sins, confessing His Son as Lord, and is baptized to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
And the amazing part of this is that it is free. There is no cost for this love because the price has already been paid. There is no way in the world anyone could ever pay for the salvation through Jesus Christ. God paid the price by giving His Son to be nailed to the Cross.
Jesus had no sin. He had no guilt. He was the perfect unblemished Lamb. He was the sacrifice beyond all sacrifices. He was the Father’s grace extended to all His children.
We have little evidence, but as far as we know, Jesus lived His earthly life like any other child. He had an earthly mother and an earthly father who took care of Him as he grew. He had brothers and sisters. He worked in His father’s carpenter shop like any other young man. In those days it was common that a son would take up his father’s occupation. So, Jesus learned the skills of a carpenter.
When Jesus was twelve years old, he was traveling with his parents, returning home from the Feast of the Passover. An unusual event occurred. We find this event recorded in Luke 2:41-52: “After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking He was in their company, they traveled on for a day.
“Then they began looking for Him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for Him. After three days they found Him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard Him was amazed at His understanding and His answers. When His parents saw Him, they were astonished” (Luke 2:48).
At this point, Joseph and Mary knew Jesus was different. They did not understand when Jesus said, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house” (Luke 2:49). Mary kept these thoughts in her heart and watched as Jesus grew in wisdom and stature.
We are not told anything about His life from twelve until thirty when He started His earthly ministry. When John the Baptist came forth and announced that people should “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2), he was indicating that God was in the world in the form of a human being, and His name is Jesus. God had entered human history. Jesus was 30 years of age at the time.
When He began His public ministry, He gained some followers. Some believed in His teaching. However, He also made some enemies, He taught the Scripture as no other person could teach it. He talked about things that could lead a person into sin.
Jesus preached on anger; lust; divorce; retaliation or getting even with someone who had done you wrong; loving those who were your enemies; helping the needy; prayer; fasting; money; worry; criticizing; asking; seeking; knocking; the way to heaven; false prophets, and a firm foundation for one’s life.
His preaching covered any and every aspect of human living.
He went on to perform many miracles. He healed the man who had leprosy as recorded in Matthew chapter 8. “A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean” (Matthew 8:2).
He healed Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 3:14).
He calmed the storm (Matthew 8:26).
He healed a paralyzed man (Matthew 9:2).
Many people began to follow Jesus. They followed for various reasons.
Some believed He was indeed the Messiah they had been waiting for.
Others followed Him because they saw the miracles He performed and knew no one else could do such miracles. Curiosity was another reason that some people followed Jesus. Many simply wanted to find out who He was and why He was preaching this message of repentance and forgiveness. Some followed Him to see how they might prove Him to be a phony.
But, for whatever reason multitudes of people followed Jesus. He always had time for them. He was never too busy to take care of their needs. He taught them in simple language. He used stories, parables, and illustrations from everyday life. He even took the time to explain what they did not understand. For example, Jesus explained the parable of the weeds so they could grasp the meaning.
He did many things, and He taught the truth. But as is the case when a person seems to be knowledgeable, some people just could not get past the fact He was the son of Mary and Joseph. They asked, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” (Matthew 13:55) These were people from His own hometown of Nazareth who knew Him growing up. They were asking questions, thinking how a carpenter’s son could have this kind of wisdom.
Jesus responded with these words: “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor” (Matthew 13:57).
It is interesting to note that other prophets were also rejected in their own hometown. For example, Jeremiah was rejected by his own family (Jeremiah 12:5, 6). Rejection is difficult to accept. None of us like to be rejected or refused. We all want people to like us and agree with us in our thoughts and our deeds. In reality, it does not happen.
Jesus did many wonderful things as He went about the country, but not all people accepted Him as their Messiah. He knew they would reject Him because they were of the world, and they thought in worldly thoughts. Jesus had a mission; He took that mission very seriously. He did all He was supposed to do in three years, Now He was entering the last week of His earthly life.
On the first day of the last week of His earthly life, He and His disciples were on their way from Jericho to Jerusalem. This is what we are celebrating and recalling today. We call this Sunday Palm Sunday.
This day is also called “Passion Sunday” because it is the beginning of Holy Week. Jesus knew what would happen just days from now. He knew about the events that would take place during the coming week. He knew about the Cross and the pain and agony He would suffer.
He knew the Scripture written in Isaiah that talked about Him. Isaiah penned these words: “He was despised and rejected by men…He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities…He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter…He was assigned a grave with the wicked…He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Go back and read Isaiah, chapter 53. It is all about Jesus!
Jesus knew the Scriptures and He could see the whole plan of God, whereas His followers could only see parts and pieces.
For example, the first time Jesus talked about His death to His disciples Peter just could not understand and let Jesus know. Peter opened his mouth and said to Jesus, “Never Lord. This shall never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22).
Peter proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah when he said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Peter was a devoted disciple and could not bear to see anything like this happen to Jesus. Peter did not see the big picture concerning Jesus’ mission.
He did not realize that if God’s plan did not go through, he would die in his sins. And the same goes for us today, If God’s plan for His Son had not happened, we would all die in our sins. Peter was thinking as a worldly man thinks.
Satan was entering the picture when he placed these thoughts in Peter’s mind.
Jesus did not leave His Father out of His thoughts and actions.
You may remember that He, too, was tempted by Satan while He was fasting in the desert for 40 days. But Jesus did not fall into sin. He responded with the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
Now as Jesus and His close friends continued in their journey to Jerusalem and came near to Bethphage, He called two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.
None of this was happenstance.
This was a part of God’s plan which is recorded by the prophet Zechariah in his writing in chapter 9:9. It says “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gently and riding on a donkey on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Zechariah wrote those words about 500 years before they ever became reality. He knew about this because God had revealed it to him. On the first Palm Sunday, this prophecy was about to come true. Jesus would fulfill these words. He was the King riding upon the donkey. He was the Messiah. He was the Savior of the world.
What is unusual about this? What king would stoop so low as to ride into town upon a lowly donkey? A king is expected to have the absolute best of everything. His means of transportation should be of the highest caliber. Why didn’t Jesus ride into Jerusalem on a horse? Horses were kept for great men, and they were also used in war.
Jesus was certainly a great person, but he was also very humble. He owned nothing worldly, so he borrowed a donkey. He was not interested in war, but Jesus was interested in love and peace.
When Jesus told His disciples to go and get the donkey and her colt, He indicated a greater power than the power of man. Jesus knew there would be no question concerning the owner of the donkey and colt giving them up. So, the animals were not taken without the owner’s knowledge and consent.
He was the Messiah; the King and He had a right to use these animals. There were no questions asked by His disciples. They did as they were told. The King was to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey just as the prophet Zechariah had said.
When the disciples returned with the animals, they had no saddle to place upon the donkey, so instead, the disciples placed their cloaks upon the backs of the animals. The disciples gave the absolute best they had. The lesson here is that Jesus gave His very best for us therefore we should give our best to Him.
Jesus was not interested in things of the world, but He was interested in people. The multitude of people around Him on the first Palm Sunday was indeed an honor for Him. By the same token, being with Jesus was also a great honor for the people because they were in the presence of the Messiah.
Jesus was interested in the souls of these people just as He is interested in the soul of each of His children today. On the first Palm Sunday, Jesus was not concerned about their resume, their title, their name or how many degrees or honors or the money they possessed. He was interested in them spending eternity with Him in His kingdom.
The crowd was excited and happy. They showed their respect by “…. spreading their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road” (v. 8).
Some of the multitudes walked in front of Him while others followed behind. These people were getting ready for a celebration. Jesus declared Himself King. What more could the people ask for?
The people shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (v.9) Hosanna means “Save now.” The people were looking to their Messiah, their Savior to deliver them from the oppression of the Roman government. They were happy and devoted people at this time.
It is sad to say, but these very people would desert Jesus as the week progressed. They would feel the pressure of those who did not believe He was the King, the Messiah, and those who would arrest him, and try Him in a mock court trial, and beat, and crucify Jesus.
When Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem, the city people were asking questions concerning this Man. The people asked, “Who is this?” (v.10) The crowd answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee” (v.11).
The first thing Jesus did upon entering the city was to go to the temple. Events were being carried out in the temple that were not meant to be. People were buying and selling, and this should not have been.
“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.’” (vv. 12, 13)
These moneychangers and people selling in the temple were denying the worshippers the opportunity to worship God within the temple.
Merchants were cheating people by overpricing the sacrificial animals as well as taking advantage of people who did not know the exchange value of their money. It angered Jesus that people were not able to Worship the Father.
After the temple was cleared, people came to Jesus for healing. The blind and the lame came and were healed. Children were shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David” (v.15). These miracles helped people realize that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the King, their Savior.
Today, you and I can look back upon history and understand Jesus as King and Savior. After Jesus was born, the wise men came to Jerusalem asking, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2)
They interpreted the star in the East as announcing the birth of the King of the Jews. Herod was afraid of Jesus and had all male children, two years and under put to death.
When Jesus cleaned the temple, He demonstrated His identity as King. His miracles proved He was of a divine nature. His love for people was beyond human love. His knowledge of Scripture can never be surpassed. His teachings are beyond human capability.
His Word reveals to us all we will ever have to know. We know why He came and how He suffered. We know He is coming again and one day we who have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior will spend eternity with Him in His kingdom.
If Jesus had not made the triumphant entry into Jerusalem and if the events of Passion Week had never happened and if the Cross was not real, we would die in our sins. There would be no other way. We would be lost.
The King made His triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem one week before His death and resurrection.
Now, He stands at the door of the heart of each of His Father’s children ready to make another triumphant entry if only He is invited to come in.
He wants to reign in your life as your King. His invitation for each of us to come in is still open today. Will you open the door and invite Him in?