Thursday, July 24, 2014
The Triumphal Entrance
“And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 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. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.” (Matthew 21:1-3)
Matthew has skipped over most of Jesus’ teaching in Jerusalem and various trips between Jerusalem and Galilee. Knowing he was at the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus has repeatedly warned the disciples he will be crucified. As they approached Jerusalem, he sent two of disciples to Bethphage to get a donkey and her colt that were tied up on the street there. If anyone questioned their right to take them, they were to say the Lord needed them and the people would let them go.
“All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 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.
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.” (Matthew 21:4-7)
Zechariah 9:9 prophesied, “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.” In sending his disciples to get the donkey for him to ride Jesus was fulfilling one more of the prophecies that proved he was the Messiah. Everything happened just as Jesus had told them it would, and they got him to ride the untrained colt into Jerusalem.
“And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strowed 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.” (Matthew 21:8-9)
The people were familiar with Zechariah’s prophecy and when Jesus came into the city they were praising the Lord for the fulfillment of the prophecy. They laid down their clothing and palm branches on the street for his donkey to walk on, rolling out the red carpet for him.
“And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?
And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.“ (Matthew 21:10-11)
When Jesus rode into the city. The people there recognized the symbolism of his riding on the donkey and questioned who it was. The multitude that accompanied him were not hesitant to announce that it was Jesus of Nazareth. After numerous run-ins between Jesus and the Scribes and Pharisees, they were not at all pleased to see the people acknowledging him as the Messiah and rightful king. Just four days later they would incite toe people to call for his crucifixion.
“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Matthew 21:12-13)
People came from all over the world to worship in the temple. They all needed sacrifices and offerings so there were vendors selling animals for the sacrifices. Others sold unleavened bread and flour or oil and containers and cloths to keep them in. Money changers exchanged foreign currencies for Jewish and Roman money so people could readily buy what they needed to worship.
Jesus said the temple was supposed to be a place of worship but they had made it into just a place of business instead. Even worse, they were taking advantage of people’s desire to worship God by charging exorbitant prices for what they sold and ripping people off. He physically drove then out of the temple scattering their merchandise and money in the process. Since they were permitting it, and often collecting fees for the privilege of selling there, the priests and religious leaders took offence at his actions and comments.
“And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased, And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say?” (Matthew 21:14-16)
The kids that were there got caught up in the excitement and when Jesus healed different bling and lame people in the temple, they were running around shouting thanks to God for sending the Messiah. This upset the priests and scribes even further and they began to ask Jesus how he could let them keep saying such things.
And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.” Matthew 21:16b-17)
Psalm 8 is a prophecy about the Messiah’s coming, and Jesus referred to the second verse, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger,” again inferring he was the Messiah. This further inflamed the priests and leaders. They were becoming desperate to stop him.