Triumphal Entry of the King

Matt 21:1-11

SS Lesson for 04/03/2022

 

Devotional Scripture: Ps 118:19-29

Lesson Background and Key Verse

Background from the NIV Standard Lesson Commentary

Matthew 21–28 is devoted to the final week of Jesus’ life through the resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. That week left the world changed forever. Today’s text comes from Monday of that fateful week and covers the triumphal entry. This event is recounted in all four Gospels (see Mark 11:1–11; Luke 19:28–44; John 12:12–19). Matthew, Mark, and Luke frequently overlap in their presentations, so we do not find ourselves surprised by the shared information. But to have an event shared also in John is less expected. Inclusion in all four Gospels speaks to the importance of the triumphal entry. Several months before, Jesus had warned his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things, including his own death, at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and scribes (Matthew 16:21–28). Peter strongly resisted such an idea. He even rebuked Jesus. The idea of Jesus’ dying was completely foreign to what Peter and the other disciples understood Jesus’ mission to be. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the disciples must have believed that their hopes of establishing Jesus as an earthly Messiah were about to be realized. Though the disciples did not yet understand, Jesus’ death would fulfill the Scriptures—just not as they had expected. The theme of fulfillment of Scripture permeates Matthew’s Gospel. From Jesus’ birth, Matthew both alluded to prophecy (Matthew 1:1; compare Isaiah 9:7; Jeremiah 23:5; etc.) and outright quoted it (Matthew 1:22–23). Matthew spells out in his account of the triumphal entry that this event fulfilled prophecy once again and paved the way for other fulfillments to come.

 

Key Verse: Matt 21:5

Tell the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey

 

Commentary from the Bible Knowledge Commentary

21:1-5. Jesus and the disciples were approaching Jerusalem from the east as they came up the road from Jericho. When they reached the town of Bethphage on the eastern slopes of the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples ahead to find a donkey and its colt. Though all four Gospel accounts include the Triumphal Entry, only Matthew mentioned a donkey along with the colt. A simple explanation of what some call a contradiction is that when Jesus rode the colt, the mother donkey naturally went along. Perhaps He rode each animal part of the distance (v. 7). Jesus told the disciples to bring the animals to Him. If anyone questioned their actions, they were to say the Lord needed them. As Messiah He had the right to request whatever He needed. Matthew mentioned (vv. 4-5) that this act fulfilled a prophecy, namely, Zechariah 9:9 (cf. Isa. 62:11), which spoke to the nation of the coming of her King in a gentle manner riding on... a colt, the foal (lit., son) of a donkey. This was not the normal manner in which kings arrived, for they usually came as conquerors riding on horses. A colt was a symbol of peace.

21:6-8. The disciples got the animals, threw their garments on them to make saddles, and people in the large crowd spread their cloaks (cf. 2 Kings 9:13) and tree branches on the road. Most of these people were pilgrims from Galilee on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. They were familiar with Jesus and the many miracles He had performed in Galilee.

21:9. As the people walked along, some before Jesus and some behind Him, they were probably singing some of the pilgrim psalms. Matthew noted that they (including children, v. 15) shouted the words of Psalm 118:26, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. To Him they shouted, Hosanna to the Son of David. “Hosanna” is from the Hebrew hôšâh nā;, “Save (us), we pray,” taken from Psalm 118:25. It came to be a note of praise as well as petition. While the crowd did not fully understand the significance of this event, they seemed to be acknowledging that this One is the promised Seed of David who had come to grant them salvation. Both their actions and words bestowed honor on this One coming into the city, at last presenting Himself publicly as their King.

21:10-11. As Jesus entered Jerusalem, the entire city was moved and asked, Who is this? Since Jesus had usually avoided the city, its inhabitants did not know Him. Those accompanying Jesus from out of town kept answering, This is Jesus, the Prophet from Nazareth in Galilee (cf. v. 46). As the Prophet, He is the One promised by Moses (Deut. 18:15). Luke recorded that Jesus wept over the city (Luke 19:41) and told the religious leaders that the day was a significant time for the nation: “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42). Jesus may well have had in mind the significant prophecy of Daniel concerning the time of Messiah’s coming and that He had arrived in Jerusalem at the very time predicted by Daniel over 500 years previously (Dan. 9:25-26). This event marked the official presentation of Jesus Christ to the nation of Israel as the rightful Son of David.

21:12-14. While Matthew’s account seems to imply Jesus entered the temple immediately after His entry into Jerusalem, the other accounts state that Jesus returned to Bethany after the entry. The cleansing of the temple probably occurred the next morning when Jesus returned to Jerusalem from Bethany (Mark 11:11-16). As Messiah Jesus entered the temple area, His indignation was directed toward those who had changed the character of the temple from a place of prayer into a place of corrupt commercialism. Many were making their living from the temple and the sacrifices purchased there. They insisted that in the temple the people could not use money that had been circulating in society, but had to change their money into temple money first, for a fee, and then use the temple money to purchase animals for sacrifice, at inflated prices. Since such extortion was completely contrary to the temple’s purposes, the Lord overturned their tables and benches in the outer court of the Gentiles (see sketch) while quoting parts of two Old Testament verses, Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11. (Jesus had previously cleared the temple at the beginning of His ministry [John 2:14-16].) Jesus further demonstrated His authority by healing the blind and the lame who came to Him at the temple. (Only Matthew recorded this fact.) Normally such individuals were excluded from the temple, but Jesus’ authority brought many changes.

 

Major Theme Analysis

(Scriptural Text from the New King James Version; cross-references from the NIV)

The Preparation (21:1-7)

 

1 Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,

2 saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me.

3 And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord has need of them,' and immediately he will send them."

4 All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:

5 "Tell the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.'"

6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them.

7 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them.

 

Preparation through prophecy (1-2)

Prophecy of Jesus being our King (Jer 23:5)

5 "The days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.

Prophecy that God would anoint Jesus (Ps 45:6-7)

6 Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. 7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.


Prophecy that Jesus would preach good news (Luke 4:18-21)

18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,  19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

Prophecy that Jesus would have power to heal (Acts 10:36-38)

36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

 

Preparation includes the use of others (3-4)

Use of others to share the load (Exodus 18:13-23)

13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, "What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?" 15 Moses answered him, "Because the people come to me to seek God's will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God's decrees and laws." 17 Moses' father-in-law replied, "What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people's representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. 21 But select capable men from all the people — men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain — and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied."

Use of others to share the responsibility (Acts 6:3)

3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them

Use of others to ensure everywhere is reached (Acts 1:21-26)

21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection." 23 So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs." 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

Use of others called out by God (Acts 13:2-3)

2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

Use of others because two are better than one (Eccl 4:9-12)

9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: 10 If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

 

Preparation through humility (5)

Humility that considers others better than ourselves (Phil 2:3)

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

Humility that comes from being one of God's chosen people (Col 3:12)

12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Humility that should be shown toward all men (Titus 3:2)

2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

Humility that comes from godly wisdom (James 3:13)

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

 

Preparation through obedience (6-7)

Obedience to God not man (Acts 5:29) 

Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men!

Obedience in the face of harm (Dan 3:16-18) 

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

 

Obedience that is better than sacrifices (1 Sam 15:22)

22 But Samuel replied: "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

Obedience through putting God's words into practice (Matt 7:24-25)

24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

Obedience through living holy (1 Peter 1:14-16)

14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

 

The Presentation  (21:8-11)

 

8 And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road.

9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: "Hosanna to the Son of David! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'  Hosanna in the highest!"

10 And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, "Who is this?"

11 So the multitudes said, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee."

 

Presentation through reverence (8)

Reverence through submission to God (Eph 5:21)

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Reverence in worship of God (Heb 12:28)

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,

Reverence because God is good (Ps 100:2-5)

2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Reverence because God is worthy (Rev 5:9)

9 And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.

 

Presentation through praise (9)

Praise God for His faithfulness Ps 56:4  

In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

Praise God for His mercy (Rom 15:8-11) 

8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs 9 so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written:  "Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;  will sing hymns to your name."  10 Again, it says,  "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people."  11 And again, "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples."

Praise God for His compassion and comfort (2 Cor 1:3-4) 

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

Praise God for His spiritual blessings (Eph 1:3) 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

 

Presentation through the stirring of the spirit (10)

By making God's word a burning desire (Jer 20:9) 

9 But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones.  I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.

By making witness bold (Ps 39:2-3) 

2 But when I was silent and still, not even saying anything good, my anguish increased.  3My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:

By compelling us to tell what God has done for us (Acts 4:20) 

For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."

By putting things into our hearts (2 Cor 8:16)

16 I thank God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you.

By working in our spirits to accomplish His good purpose (Phil 2:13)

13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

 

Presentation through knowing Jesus (11)

Knowing Jesus is the way of knowing God (John 8:19)

19 Then they asked him, "Where is your father?" "You do not know me or my Father," Jesus replied. "If you knew me, you would know my Father also."

Knowing Jesus is having eternal life (John 17:3)

3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

Knowing Jesus through being His sheep (John 10:14-15)

14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Knowing Jesus is the reason He came as human (1 John 5:20)

20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true — even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

Knowing Jesus so that we will share in His resurrection (Phil 3:10-11)

10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

 

Conclusion and Other Thoughts

Commentary Thoughts from Allen Ross

I. The Preparation for the Triumphal Entry (21:1-6)

Jesus sent two disciples (Luke 22 says Peter and John) ahead to Bethpage to get the animals for the ride into town. The disciples were instructed to go and find the donkey and its colt tied there in the village; they were to loose them and bring them to Jesus, and if anyone asked what they were doing, they were to say that the Lord needs them and then they would be sent right away. This little preparation was designed by Jesus to demonstrate His authority: He knew the animals would be there, and He knew that if they said the Lord needed them they would be given to them. This was a planned sequence, designed to be an acted parable, a revelation for those who had faith. After the resurrection the disciples could look back and see how Jesus had demonstrated in this and the other events that He had authority, that He was in control of the events, and not losing control to wicked men or evil times.

There have been several suggestions for the interpretation of “Lord” in the words they were to use. Some have suggested the word would refer to the animal’s owner--the master needed his animals. But that would be a lie unless Jesus owned the animals. Besides, Luke tells us the owners asked them what they were doing and then released the animals to them. Some have thought it would refer to Yahweh, that is, the animals would be needed for the service of God at the sanctuary. But why that would be the case is unclear. The simplest explanation is that Jesus was referring to Himself as “Lord,” a title that He accepted from His followers and frequently used of Himself. In the later part of His ministry Jesus used such clear titles for Himself more frequently, and this would be a good example. He clearly was claiming authority as the Lord, even over what appeared to be the possessions of people.

Matthew then records the verses from the prophet Zechariah to say that this event was the fulfillment of that oracle. It is possible that Jesus said these verses to His disciples, introducing them with “This has taken place to fulfill.” That would mean that this introductory formula was said proleptically, just prior to its fulfillment. The other possible interpretation is that the inclusion of the verses was Matthew’s comment on the event afterward. In either interpretation, the point is clear that the event was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah given some 500 years earlier.

The introductory words of the prophecy come from Isaiah 62:11 but the main part of it from Zechariah 9:9. The whole passage is not included here: the expression “righteous and having salvation” was probably understood as part of the quotation used, or, it may be that the focus at this point was on the humility and peace that the King would have.

If we look at Zechariah more closely, the first “burden” begins in chapter 9 and continues through chapter 11. It concerns the anointed King who would be rejected. The second burden, beginning in chapter 12 and going through 14, concerns the rejected King who would be enthroned. This is clearly, then, the part of the prophecy leading up to the rejection and death of messiah. The core of the oracle is that the King would enter the holy city with humility and peace, riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Kings at times rode on donkeys in times of peace (Judg. 5:10; 1 Kings 1:33). And the Jews certainly knew that Zechariah 9:9 was a prophecy of the coming King--the Messiah. Thus we may observe that Jesus was proclaiming His Messiahship, His fulfillment of Scripture, and His coming in peace to offer salvation to the people. By this entry Jesus was compelling the people to recognize Him, at least for the moment, as the coming King predicted in Zechariah. They would have to consider this event in the light of that prediction.

There is some question about the number of animals involved. In the oracle in Zechariah the normal understanding would be that the two lines, one mentioning the donkey, and the other the colt, were Hebrew parallelism referring to one animal and not town. In the New Testament Matthew alone of the four gospels mentions that there were two animals. It is possible that Matthew did this to make the distinction that Jesus rode on the colt, for Mark said Jesus rode on an animal which no one had ever ridden. The point is that Matthew gives a little more detail of the animals to be found tied up, to make it clear that Jesus rode on the colt. So then, in the midst of the excitement of the crowd, a young, unbroken animal remained calm when Jesus rode it, a sign that Jesus controlled nature. This symbolism pointed to the peace of the Messianic kingdom. Matthew, in mentioning the two animals, stresses that Jesus fulfilled the detail of this prophecy--he rode the colt.

The disciples fulfilled their mission and returned with the animals. They then spread their cloaks over them, over both animals. When the text says that Jesus sat on them, it is most likely referring to the cloaks and not the animals. Jesus rode on the colt into the city. Both animals were in the procession, but Jesus rode the colt.

II. The Triumphal Entry (21:7-11)

There was a very large crowd that went with Jesus along the way. Some of them spread their cloaks on the path to acknowledge Jesus’ kingship, and others cut branches and lay them in the way.

Many scholars have noted that cutting down tree branches was a custom of the Feast of Tabernacles, which was held in the fall and not the spring. But for that feast they would cut the branches and make little booths to dwell in--not spread them in the road. Those were larger branches, strong enough to make a lean-to shelter. These are lighter branches, certainly not large ones that might trip the animals. This was again an act of homage at the entrance of the king, and not a celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. 1 Maccabees 13:51 and 2 Maccabees 10:7 show similar customs, indicating that the act of spreading the branches was in recognition of the king.

The Gospels also tell us that throngs of people came with Him in the procession. The news had spread of His arrival in Bethany, and so there was time for the crowds to gather, especially His followers from Galilee, and certainly all those who were looking for the Messiah. Messianic expectations were high at this time, and when the word spread of Jesus’ arrival in the area, people naturally thronged to see Him. After all, His miracles and His teachings had drawn crowds everywhere He went.

The words that the crowds shout along the way come from Psalm 118. That passage, in fact, Psalms 113-118, belong to what is called the Hallel Psalms, psalms sung at all the major festivals in Jerusalem. The words, then, would have been well known even by the common person, much like Christmas Carols and Advent Hymns are known by nominal Church members. The cries included: “Hosanna to the Son of David”; “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD”; and “Hosanna in the highest.”

The word “hosanna” is a Greek writing of the Hebrew verb from the Psalm, “Save!” (Hebrew hosi’ah-na’ [pronounced ho-she-ah-nah]). It is an imperative, a cry for help. In time it became an acclamation, much like the Hebrew word hallelu-yah, which is an imperative (“praise the Lord”) but became an acclamation. The cry is addressed to Jesus as “Son of David.” There was no doubt in the minds of the faithful that this Jesus was the Messiah, the heir to the throne of David. This is confirmed by the exclamation, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.” In Psalm 118 the sentence was a priestly blessing for the king who led the people in procession to the sanctuary to offer praise to the Lord. But it came to be a praise to God for the coming of Messiah--Jesus had been widely recognized by His followers as “the Coming One.” And so when the people repeat their “Hosanna” to God in the highest, which is like saying “Glory to God in the highest” (in Luke) except it is a call for deliverance, they are praising God for sending them the Messiah, the Savior of Israel.

Of course it was fairly easy for the crowds to get caught up in the Messianic fervor in the light of Jesus’ miracles and teachings. They knew He was a prophet, as the text says; and they hailed Him as their coming King. But they had not grasped the inevitable suffering of the Messiah, the Suffering Servant, the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world. It was difficult for the people, even those who were the closest to Jesus, to understand that His ride into Jerusalem as the promised Messiah was not to ascend the throne, but to die on the cross.

Luke records that on the way down Olives He was criticized by the leaders for receiving such praise. But Jesus answered that if they did not praise, the stones themselves would cry out. He was--and is--that great. He alone is worthy of such praise; and everything in creation will praise Him.

The whole city was in a stir when Jesus entered triumphantly. When they asked “Who is this?” they probably wanted to know who this Jesus really was that there should be such a stir over him. The answer that was given in the crowds was that He was a prophet of Nazareth. The reference to Nazareth probably indicates some surprise since it was such an unlikely place. But there were people there who recognized Him as the eschatological prophet (see Deut. 18:15-18; John 7:40; Acts 3:22; 7:37). The account here in Matthew leads the reader to the proper conclusion, that Jesus was more than a prophet--He was the Christ (Messiah), the Son of God, who came to save the world.

                        (Adapted from URL:https://bible.org/seriespage/30-triumphal-entry-matthew-211-17)

 

Concluding Thoughts from the NIV Standard Lesson Commentary

Hearing the story of Jesus always leaves us with a question: Who is he? Just a good teacher, basing his lessons on God’s laws? No more than a prophet, given insight from the Lord? Or is he the Son of God, the promised Messiah, sent to save the world from sin and death? Based on our answer, we also have a decision to make: Will we follow? On days like the one described in this lesson, following Jesus is not just the right thing to do; it’s the joyful thing! We want to follow Christ when he is being celebrated by everyone we know. And indeed, following Jesus is the path of life to the fullest (John 10:10b; 14:6). But we must not forget that Jesus was heading to the cross. All of us experience great happiness, but sorrow, pain, betrayal, and loss will still befall us, as they did Jesus. This is not an exception to a good life; it is a fact of living in a world marred by sin. Will we still follow when we know that Jesus might be leading us to more pain than if we simply watched him pass by? What gives us staying power when others lay down their palm branches and reach instead for stones (John 8:59)? Growing in our knowledge of Jesus and our relationship with him helps us choose to follow his lead every day. Our preparation for extraordinary struggle begins in ordinary preparations: spending time in the Word and in prayer, seeking the Spirit’s guidance; worshipping with the body of Christ, and lamenting too; serving our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, and our enemies. May we celebrate Jesus in all circumstances and follow him, even to death.

 


Concluding Thoughts from the Echoes Commentary

Before traveling to Jerusalem, Jesus spent some time in Jericho, where He healed two blind men and encountered Zacchaeus. He then visited His friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany before making His amazing ride into Jerusalem. Unlike other occasions, He didn't avoid the crowds or enter the city privately. He received the joyous honor and praise from the people.

 

The Triumphal Entry - Right before Jesus entered the city, He commissioned two of His disciples to retrieve a donkey. Jesus knew the exact location of a colt and its mother. If anyone asked questions, Jesus told them to say, "The Lord needs them." Jesus fulfilled one of Zechariah's prophesies concerning the Messiah by riding into Jerusalem like royalty. Yet, He made no use of a warrior horse; instead, He rode on a colt, symbolizing peace and meekness. Out of respect, the disciples put their garments across the donkey, and Jesus climbed on the animal to ride into the city. Because of the Passover feast, thousands of Jews from all over the known world were there, perhaps lining the street in a parade-like fashion. They made a carpet of their outer garments and tree branches along the road. The people shouted "Hosanna!" and hailed Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah and King. They expected Him to take down the Roman government and bring in a free, Jewish kingdom.

 

The Messiah's Message - The Scripture said Jesus' entrance "stirred" the city. The same thing happened in the city when the Magi inquired about the Christ child (Matt. 2:3). On both occasions, the Magi and Jesus turned the city upside down, and rumors started circulating. Those who had not heard about Jesus asked, "Who is this?" Those in the crowd who knew of Him shouted back, "This is Jesus of Nazareth."

 

When King Jesus Rides Again - What the crowd didn't know was that Jesus would begin to weep as He rode into Jerusalem. They shouted and rejoiced over Him, thinking He would free them from their Roman oppressors. They didn't understand that this time when Jesus came, He came as a gentle, lowly Savior. When Jesus returns, at His second coming, He will then ride a warrior's white horse, and everyone will know who He is.