I was asked to be a guest blogger at www.bible.org by sharing an entry dealing with the “triumphal entry” passage in Matt. 21. (The site promotes the use of the NET Bible.) I thought I would share it with you here:
21:1 Now when they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 telling them, “Go to the village ahead of you. Right away you will find a donkey tied there, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you are to say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: 5 “Tell the people of Zion, ‘Look, your king is coming to you, unassuming and seated on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” 6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those following kept shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 As he entered Jerusalem the whole city was thrown into an uproar, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Several things jump out at me from this text.
Jesus is sovereign as God. He was in total control of the situation. He designed the entire scene and gives evidence to that fact by telling ahead of time what was going to happen. It also gives further evidence that Jesus was not murdered (at least from His perspective) but gave Himself as a sacrifice to satisfy the wrath of God against sinners and mediate justification to those same sinners.
The disciples did exactly as Jesus commanded. They did not pray about whether or not to do what Jesus asked of them. They did not have a committee meeting to decide what would be the best way to go and find a donkey and colt. They just did what Jesus told them to do. Our responsibility is to simply obey God’s commands given in scripture.
This event fulfilled prophesy given hundreds of years earlier. This was no accident. Verse 5 of this passage is a reference to Zechariah 9:9 which was written over 500 years earlier. All of the Old Testament points to this One named Jesus. Nothing happened in Jesus’ life by accident. It was scripted out before the foundation of the world (Matt. 13:35; John 17:24; Heb. 4:3).
What man means by praising in the natural is not the grand design of redemption. The same crowds that were hailing Jesus as the Messiah in this passage would soon be crying for His crucifixion. This was because their definition of what “Messiah” meant and what Jesus meant by the same term was completely different. Once Jesus did not fulfill the vision of the masses for governmental and political emancipation, the public was done with Him. Our challenge is to die to our own definitions of what it means to be “god” and to bow at God’s definition of His Title. Only as we have seen Jesus as He knows Himself to be—A Savior, A Redeemer, A Mediator of the New Covenant—can we truly praise Him appropriately. Only then can we worship Him in spirit and in truth.
Worshipping Jesus as we think He is does not deceive God in the least. He is the maker of a new creation and He knows the sound of a truly born-again heart. Our responsibility is to die to our own ideas and worship of a “Jesus” of our own making and to treasure the true Jesus of the scriptures.