Matthew 21:1-11
Key Verse 21:5

“Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

In the world we live in every day, being the first or the last in anything is a big thing. In sports for example, to come out first or last makes a big difference. Champions march off to honor and glory, while losers fade away in defeat. But Jesus explains to us that in God’s world, it’s not like that at all! Champions are usually the last while losers are the first. I know, it’s an upside-down thing. But Jesus tells us a truth worth keeping close to your heart; he says: “Whoever wants to be first must be your slave” (20:27) for, “Many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” and he’s not kidding! (19:30) It shouldn’t surprise us that God’s standards are so different from the worlds’. Jesus never stops telling us this, hoping that we who belong to him accept this truth and experience his kingdom. People’s idea of victory usually involves making it big in this world, even if it means ruining others to make it. When a servant of God teaches humility and self denial, he is ridiculed and abandoned and cast off like an old garment! But the Lord really wants us to be champions in humility and in sacrifice. Who can fully understand this kind of wisdom! We often don’t. But we don’t need to, so long as it’s the Lord’s teaching! Still, Jesus wants us to understand that the real champions and winners are those who imitate him and walk in his footsteps. And where did his footsteps lead except to cross of sacrifice and life. We who love him should always bear this in mind: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (20:28), and called us to follow him!

Jesus was now finally on his way to Jerusalem to give his life as a random for many. He was now ready to march into Jerusalem to give his life for the sins of the world. There was never a doubt that Jesus is our Savior. Even blind men were able to see that! (20:29-34) They shouted “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” They were sure that Jesus was the Savior of our souls. They were sure that the Savior was full of mercy. When Jesus heard their cry for help, he stopped and asked them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they only asked if he would open heir eyes. They wanted to see his face whose grace was their salvation. When he opened their eyes to see, they did what their hearts compelled them to do. They followed him! In the Christian family, there are those who get what they ask for in prayer then go their own way. I think they need to learn from the blind men how a person ought to respond to God’s grace; that is, follow Jesus with all your heart and mind, soul and strength!

This was not the first time Jesus came to Jerusalem. But this time he was ready to march into Jerusalem for the last time to claim his crown of victory. We call this “The Triumphal Entry”! But honestly, it didn’t seem at all like a victory! Actually, when you look at it from a human perspective, it seems like a terrible defeat. It seems as if the forces of evil had completely defeated the forces of good. It seemed as if evil had finally won the day. It seems as if everything Jesus came to do and did was in vain— a total waste. Yet Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time ready to surrender himself to the authorities who would capture him, torture him, and then crucify him in absolute rejection of his divine person and of everything he came to fulfill. How on earth, then, does the Bible and Christian history consider this a “Triumphal” entry? You can understand this only when you understand that Jesus’ selfless sacrifice led to the defeat of our greatest enemy, sin and death. That’s why it’s the greatest victory in heaven and on earth!

Look at verses 1-3. As Jesus and his company of disciples approached Jerusalem, he instructed two of them to go to the village ahead, find a donkey tied there with her colt, to untie them and then to bring them to him. He also said to them: “If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” This is now very interesting. Jesus asking his disciples to do something seemingly unscrupulous, difficult and even dangerous! He’s basically telling them to bring him someone else’s property, and without permission. From a human perspective, it seems as though he was encouraging them to claim for him something that didn’t belong neither to them nor to him. But there’s an important spiritual lesson here for them and all of us to learn. We all need to learn the “Lordship of Christ”. What this means is that Jesus would have his disciples and us know and remember that he is the Lord of all creation— and that all things in heaven and on earth belong to him— and that everything was created to serve him and his divine purpose. Now that’s a crucial lesson to keep in our hearts, something we shouldn’t ever forget. He’s the Lord of all things (and that includes your life and possessions, and that of every human being who has ever lived). And all things were created, and are there, for one and only one purpose— to serve his and only his divine purpose!

And this isn’t a mystery either! The whole Bible tells us that Lord Jesus is the Lord Creator and owner of all things. “By him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16) All things were created for him, that is for his own glory that he may use them as he wills. Jesus created all peoples and all nature for himself. (Ps.19:1,2) Therefore, everything belongs to the Lord Jesus and are at his disposal. The donkey in this story must have had an owner. But when you consider the Lordship of Christ, the real owner is Jesus. And the Lord has the right to ask for anything to be brought or given to him because he owns them, even our very lives— your life and mine. In the world we live in, our lives, our children’s lives, our possessions and other’s lives and possessions, and all things are the property of our Lord Jesus since they were all created by him and for him. It’s with this kind of faith, then, that you and I should always be ready to give our life, and all that belongs to us, to Jesus, with the strong conviction that the “Lord needs them.” When a person knows in their heart that his or her life is the property of Christ, they are willingly to surrender that life to Him. More than that, when a person knows that the “Lord needs them” for his own special purpose, they are willing to offer that life for the Owner’s use since it was created to serve the Lord’s special purpose. This isn’t easy faith to come by. Many use their big mouth to say that Jesus is Lord, but are unwilling to surrender to the Lord’s will. Yet this has been the faith of those who served God’s purpose with their lives in the past and present generations. They understand that their lives belong to him and that he needs them for his purpose. Why did the disciples need to learn the Lordship of Christ? Because to do the work God calls you to do, you need this strong conviction that everything belongs to him. It’s with this conviction that you can challenge men and women to surrender their lives to the Lord and to follow him. Without this conviction, a disciple of Jesus has no courage to challenge men to obey the gospel.

There’s another reason why Jesus sent two disciples with instruction to bring him a donkey. He was now ready to obey God’s will for him to enter Jerusalem riding a donkey. Read verses 4-5. “This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet. ‘Say to the Daughter of Zion, “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” Why did God ordain that his Christ enter his city like this? We can understand if consider the way of the world, and the usual way of kings in history. Kings have flaunted their human glory, power and majesty, lording it over their people. They came to subdue rather than to serve. But King Jesus is so different from all of them! He is not a worldly king who came to wrest worldly power. Rather He’s a spiritual king whose kingship is heavenly, and marked with humility. In other words, he is a humble and gentle king who came to conquer people’s hearts and souls. So, God the Father, commissioned him to ride gently on a donkey to invite those whose hearts long to return to God. He rides on a donkey so that anyone, no matter who they may be, would easily come to him. It’s a powerful reflection of God’s heart for those whose eyes can see the grace of God through the humility of his Son— the King— the Savior of souls. And it’s a powerful reflection of what the Savior was commissioned by God to do. He came to call our souls back God, and not to make our lives better in this world! Those who mistake Jesus’ kingship for anything else, because they love this world, can never accept him as their King. Jesus humbly entered Jerusalem on a donkey to give his life as a ransom for many, and to show us the way of God to his kingdom. More than anything, our Lord deserves honor and glory, worship and praise now and always!

Look at verse 6. “The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.” What Jesus asked them to do wasn’t easy at all. If they were to fulfill his command, they needed obedient faith, something foreign to most today. They needed obedient faith that trusts Jesus’ words of life. But hard as this mission may have been, the disciples trusted and obeyed him by faith. And this has always been the only way for God’s servants to do God’s work. Most of Jesus’ commands are difficult, sometimes impossible to do. “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things would be given you as well” has ever been difficult for Christians to embrace as truth and obey as the way of life. But we are witnesses that unless one seeks God’s kingdom and his righteousness first as his or her priority in life, they never actually experience the fulfillment of God’s promise in their lives. Many Christians live mediocre Christian lives, almost like non-believers who live like skeptics rather than glorious victors, because they’re too weak or cowardly to trust and obey the Lord’s commands. We live in a skeptic age, relying more on reason and emotion instead of on the truth of God’s word, which, as Paul says: “Is able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15) Trust the Lord’s words with all your heart, and courageously obey them, and you will be able to “Do everything through him who gives [you] strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

Through the disciples’ obedient faith, Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem. Then some spread their coats on the road, and others cut branches and laid them on the road. (6-8) After this the crowd did an amazing thing to the dismay of the religious leaders. Look at verse 9. “The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’” This was the welcome Jesus received as he entered the city— the praise reserved for the Savior alone. The word Hosanna meant save, and the words Son of David meant The Promised Messiah. This reflected the people’s condition, and the deepest desire of their hearts. They suffered greatly because they were oppressed by religion, politics and social injustice. Of course, their social circumstances crushed them. But as the Lord always reminds us, the people’s greatest problem of suffering is because they live a sinful life, and are slaves to sin’s merciless power. They were tormented in their hearts with shame and guilt that seemed to never go away, as well as a deep sense of un-forgiveness and of God’s retribution. And they didn’t know how to get rid of this burden that often weighed heavy on their hearts. Their suffering was no different even from those who oppressed them— be they Jews or Romans— they all suffered in the same way because sin is impartial and torments everyone alike. Because of sin living in them, they were also alienated from God and they had no life of God within them. They all needed deliverance from sin, forgiveness and a cleansing and healing of soul.

When they shouted Hosanna to the Son of David, they wanted the long awaited Messiah to save them. But the trouble is that their idea about what the Messiah came to save them from was really wrong. They wanted him to save them from their worldly troubles. They wanted better human conditions, and end to their poverty and human oppression, a promotion to comfortable living. They really didn’t understand yet that people suffer mostly because of the unsolved sin problem in their own lives. They had no idea yet that their Hosannas to Jesus were prophetic because Jesus actually came to save us all from sin. Still, they welcomed Jesus as the Son of David, the promised Deliverer. I think that many people maybe still confused about the nature of Jesus’ deliverance. And I’m afraid that many who turn to him do so hoping that their human condition would improve— that their human sufferings would end— and that they would enjoy the comforts of this world. Therefore, many confess him as Messiah, yet live unforgiven, and with an unsolved sin problem, and with their eyes blind to heaven and ignorant of God. And when their sufferings linger, they abandon the faith. The Lord calls them to humble themselves— to confess their sins in sincere repentance— to renounce their old worldly ways— to plead for forgiveness— and to receive the crucified Lord in faith and in commitment to his blessed Name.

Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was surely a Triumphal Entry. It’s almost strange to call all the events that would soon happen as Jesus’ triumph! It seems better to call them Jesus’ defeat or Jesus’ loss. From the world’s point of view, the events of his humble entry, his upcoming suffering and his imminent death looked like signs of weaknesses and of defeat. It almost looks as if Jesus lost out to Satan who inspired people to reject Jesus as the Messiah. It seemed as if the Good Lord Jesus had to surrender to the power of evil and lose his life in a unsuccessful mission of love and mercy. But those who bow to this gracious King also know none of that is true! He had come to this city of corruption and evil to defeat our greatest enemy Satan— who authors sin and empowers the sinful nature. Most people don’t know why they do the things they do or don’t want to do— why they sin against God and against each other. And they can’t stop sinning even if they want to. Because the devil holds the power of sin over people’s hearts! That’s why God sent Jesus who to fight and free us from it. But the spiritual fight is different from that of the world. It was God’s way of humble surrender to death on a cross. And that’s what Jesus did, beginning with his humble entry into Jerusalem to his suffering death on a cross. It was the way of winning the spiritual victory. Jesus died, and God raised him from the dead defeating the power of sin and death. All we have to do is put our faith in him for our deliverance! Now we know that the way of humility and sacrifice is as ever the way to spiritual triumph in every situation. The believer in Christ fully understands this truth and lives by it. In other words, it’s okay for you to lose on the human front, because in him and through him, you own the spiritual victory. In him we have the crown of life, and the promise that one day all our human sufferings will end, and everything we sacrificed for his name would be kept as a treasure for us in heaven’s vaults. May the blessed Lord give each of us the grace to walk in the way of Jesus’ victory. Amen.

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