Lenten Day 34: [HOLY WEEK] TRIUMPHANT ENTRY
TOPIC: TRIUMPHANT ENTRY
TEXT: MATTHEW 21:10-16
TRIUMPHAL ENTRY: This term refers to Jesus Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, where the crowds welcomed Him and hailed Him as Son of David, King of the Jews. Ironically, this event occurred just a few days prior to His betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion.
PALM SUNDAY is the Sunday before Easter, when Christians remember this TRIUMPHAL ENTRY of Jesus into Jerusalem. It is called Palm Sunday because the crowd spread palm branches in front of Jesus as He rode into the city on a donkey. This was the Sunday of the week that Jesus would be crucified, and the great Passover festival was about to begin. Jews came to Jerusalem from all over the Roman world during this week-long celebration to remember the great exodus from Egypt (see Exodus 12:37-51). Jesus did come, not as a warring king on a horse or in a chariot, but as a gentle and peaceable King on a donkey’s colt, just as Zechariah 9:9 had predicted.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the two main hinges upon which the door of salvation turns. He came into the world on purpose to give His life a ransom. Therefore the history of His sufferings, even unto death, and His rising again, is more particularly recorded in the four gospels than any other part of His story. At this chapter begins that which is called the PASSION-WEEK. He had said to His disciples more than once, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and there the Son of man must be betrayed. A great deal of good work He did by the way, and now at length He is come up to Jerusalem; and here we have – The public entry which He made into Jerusalem, upon the first day of the passion-week, and the authority He exercised there, in cleansing the temple, and driving out of it the buyers
JESUS SENDS FOR A DONKEY
Bethphage (Mat 21:1) was a village in the vicinity of the Mount of Olives about a half a mile east of Jerusalem. The donkey was the mount of royalty in the biblical period. The Zechariah passage (Zech 9:9) concerns God’s great offer of salvation and restoration for Israel. Jesus rode the young colt of a donkey in fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy. The passage surrounding Psalms118:26, quoted by the crowds also concerns God’s restoration of Israel through His chosen Messenger (Psalms118:22-29). “Praise God”, a Hebrew imperative, means “save now.” The crowd identified Jesus as “the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee” (Matthew 21:10-11).
ON THE WAY TO JERUSALEM
On His way to Jerusalem the people exclaimed “Praise God!” because they recognized that Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 (see also Psalms24:7-10; 118:26). They spoke of David’s kingdom because of God’s words to David in 2nd Samuel 7:12-14. The crowd correctly saw Jesus as the fulfillment of these prophecies. This is Jesus THE PROPHET whom Moses spoke of – “I will raise them up a prophet-like unto thee.” – Deut 18:18. Every expression of the multitude plainly intimated that they fully received Him as the promised Messiah. How strange is it that these same people should, about five days after, change their hosannas for, Away with Him! Crucify him! Crucify him! How fickle is the multitude! Even when they get right, there is but little hope that they will continue so long.
JESUS IN THE TEMPLE
This is the second time Jesus cleared the Temple (see John 2:13-17). Merchants and money changers set up their booths in the Court of the Gentiles in the Temple, crowding out the Gentiles who had come from all over the civilized world to worship God. The merchants sold sacrificial animals at high prices, taking advantage of those who had come long distances. The money changers exchanged all international currency for the special Temple coins—the only money the merchants would accept. They often deceived foreigners who didn’t know the exchange rates. Their commercialism in God’s house frustrated people’s attempts at worship. This, of course, greatly angered Jesus. Any practice that interferes with worshiping God should be stopped.
Our Lord alludes here to those dens and caves in Judea, in which the public robbers either hid or kept themselves fortified. They who are placed in the Church of Christ to save souls, and do it not, and they who enjoy the revenues of the Church, and neglect the service of it, are thieves and robbers in more senses than one. Our Lord is represented here as purifying His temple; and this we may judge He did in reference to His true temple, the Church, to show that nothing that was worldly or unholy should have any place among His followers, or in that heart in which He should condescend to dwell.
It is marvelous that these interested, vile men did not raise a mob against Him: but it is probable they were overawed by the Divine power, or, seeing the multitudes on the side of Christ, they were afraid to molest Him. Having condemned the profane use of the temple, He now shows the proper use of it. It is a house of prayer, where God is to manifest His goodness and power in giving sight to the spiritually blind, and feet to the lame. The Church in which the blind and the lame are not healed has no Christ in it, and is not worthy of attendance.
The chief priests-were sore displeased Or, were incensed. Incensed at what! At the purification of the profaned temple! This was a work they should have done themselves, but for which they had neither grace nor influence; and their pride and jealousy will not suffer them to permit others to do it. Strange as it may appear, the priesthood itself, in all corrupt times, has been ever the most forward to prevent a reform in the Church. Was it because they were conscious that a reformer would find them no better than money-changers in, and profaners of, the house of God, and that they and their system must be overturned, if the true worship of God were restored! Let him who is concerned answer this to his conscience
These debates between Jesus and the religious leaders achieved several ends. They revealed the false arguments being made against Jesus for what they were and His true identity was recognized. He was the Messiah, “the Son of David” (21:15). Jesus’ words and deeds in the temple also served to teach His followers about true religion. The book of Matthew, as a whole, built to this confrontation between Jesus and the Jewish leaders with their distorted form of religion. The conclusion of this confrontation recognized the authority of Jesus the Messiah. These debates also provided an inspirational model of boldness in opposition to false religion. In the context of Jesus driving the money changers from the temple (21:12-13), read Isaiah 56:6-8 and Jeremiah 7:8-11. Jesus redirected the minds and hearts of the people to God in prayer (Matthew 21:12-13) and praise (21:14-17). Read the entire verse of Psalms 8:2 to understand what Jesus intended in Matthew 21:16. The words of the Psalms speak of praise and strength to confound His enemies. Also, the “child” image is found throughout Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 11:25-30; 18:1-6; 19:13-15).
In an outburst of righteous anger, Jesus chased the merchants and money changers out of the Temple. They had been defiling the Temple by turning it into a marketplace and cheating those who had come to make offerings. Jesus’ rebuke of such sinful Temple practices reminds us to guard our own worship against corruption. We must always keep God and His desires at the center of worship and never allow other motives to lead us astray.
THOSE THAT TAKE CHRIST FOR THEIR KING MUST LAY THEIR ALL UNDER HIS FEET.