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The Untriumphal Entry (Luke 19:28-44)

Matthew 21:1-17 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” 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.’” The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.

They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 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!” “Hosanna in the highest!” When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “ ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’” The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?” And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

Mark 11:1-18 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’ “ They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.

When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest!” Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him SAY it.

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: “‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

Luke 19:28-48 After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.’ “ Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They replied, “The Lord needs it.”

They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, “ ‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.

John 12:9-19 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.

The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”

At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.

Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”

Introduction

It was nearly 20 years ago that I heard this text used in a most unusual way. A friend had just lost a little girl, who died as an infant of an incurable disease. At the funeral, one of the elders of the church, Howard Prier, read the paragraph (I do not recall from which of the gospel accounts) which we have recorded before us in verses 28-34. How could a text pertaining the acquisition of a donkey possibly bring comfort to those who had just lost a child in death? Mr. Prier focused our attention on the phrase, “the Lord needs it.” All it took was this statement from the disciples, and the owners of these two animals were willing to let them be led away. And all it required for the Christian to release the little child to God’s care and keeping was the knowledge that, in His good purposes, God had need of the child. What a beautiful truth. What a marvelous application.

In the context of the passage before us, I am nevertheless faced with a couple of tensions. The first is this: Why is an entire paragraph devoted to the procuring of a donkey and its foal, when it seems like such an insignificant event? The second tension is occasioned by the great contrast between the joyful praise of the crowds and Jesus’ weeping: Why does the entrance of our Lord seem so triumphal, when our Lord’s assessment of it implies the opposite? Why does the people rejoice while the Savior weeps?

The Background of our Passage

The events of the entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem can only be understood in the light of a number of very important elements, all of which converged in this place at this point in time. First, Jerusalem was the destination of our Lord, toward which He had been heading for some time. From Luke’s gospel, and from the accounts of Matthew and Mark, we know that Jesus has been bound for Jerusalem for some time. Ever since the transfiguration of Jesus, He had been speaking to His disciples of going to Jerusalem, where He would be put to death (cf. Luke 9:31, 51). Even publicly, to some degree, it was made known that He would not be stopped from going to Jerusalem, to His death (Luke 13:31-35).

Second, all Israel knew that it would be in Jerusalem where Messiah would be enthroned as their King. In our previous lesson, I outlined a few of the Old Testament texts which looked for Messiah to appear in Jerusalem.58 In the “triumphal entry,” Jesus’ presentation of Himself to Israel as their Messiah is seen as the fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 (cf. Matthew 21:4-5). All eyes were on Jerusalem, and Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem.

Third, the Passover feast was at hand, which brought many spiritual pilgrims to Jerusalem and fueled the fires of spiritual and messianic expectations. Spiritual Israelites from all over Israel would make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, just as Jesus’ family did, as recorded in Luke chapter 2 (verses 41 ff.). Edersheim writes,

“Everyone in Israel was thinking about the Feast. for the previous month it had been the subject of discussion in the Academies, and, for the last two Sabbaths at least, that of discourse in the Synagogues. Everyone was going to Jerusalem, or had those near and dear to them there, or at least watched the festive processions to the Metropolis of Judaism. It was a gathering of universal Israel, that of the memorial of the birth-night of the nation, and of its Exodus, when friends from afar would meet, and new friends be made; when offerings long due would be brought, and purification long needed be obtained—and all worship in that grand and glorious Temple, with its gorgeous ritual. National and religious feelings were alike stirred in what reached far back to the first, and pointed far forward to the final Deliverance.59

John specifically tells us that many came to Jerusalem from the country, to celebrate the Passover:

Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover, to purify themselves (John 11:55).

Fourth, Jesus had performed a number of spectacular miracles, which attracted the crowds and further fueled their messianic enthusiasm. Blind Bartimaeus (Mark named him, Mark 10:46), accompanied by another unnamed blind man (Matthew 20:30), were given their sight in Jericho (Luke 18:35-43). The most spectacular miracle, however, was the raising of Lazarus, which happened very near to Jerusalem, in Bethany (John 11:1). The result of this miracle was even greater popularity for our Lord, with some believing in Him, and others not:

“Many therefore of the Jews, who had come to Mary and beheld what He had done, believed in Him. But some of them went away to the Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done” (John 11:45-46).

This popularity alarmed the Pharisees, who met together to discuss the crisis, and who, from that day on, were intent on killing Jesus, based upon this counsel, spoken by Caiaphas:

“You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish” (John 11:49b-50).

Jesus therefore retreated, avoiding public exposure, until the proper time for His death came. He went to the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim, staying there with His disciples (John 11:54). Many were seeking Jesus. He was the topic of conversation of those waiting at the Temple (John 11:56). Not only was Jesus sought, but also Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead:

Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him (John 12:9-11).

One can hardly grasp the mood of many at that moment in history. They were looking for Messiah, and Jesus was a likely candidate. The moment was right. They looked for Him, watching carefully for any indication of His identity. In contrast, the Pharisees and religious leaders were determined that He was not the Messiah, and that He would have no opportunity to attempt to be acclaimed such by the masses who would have wished He were their King. They were intent on putting Him to death, and were only looking for the right opportunity. These opponents of our Lord feared the crowds, and sought to do away with Jesus out of their sight.

Putting the Props in Place:
Arranging for Messiah’s Entrance
(19:28-34)

After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.’” Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They replied, “The Lord needs it.”

The Mount of Olives is a hill outside of Jerusalem, which Luke tells us elsewhere is a “Sabbath day’s journey” from Jerusalem (Acts 1:12). It is a place of great significance. It was on the Mount of Olives that king David wept, along with his faithful followers, as he fled from Jerusalem and from his son, Absolom (2 Samuel 15:30). According to Zachariah 14:4, the Messiah was to appear on the Mount of Olives, which would be split in half, forming a great valley. It is here that the “triumphal entry” was staged. During His last week, Jesus spent His nights on the Mount of Olives (Luke 21;37). It seems also to be from the Mount of Olives that Jesus ascended (cf. Acts 1:12).

Jesus must have paused here on the Mount of Olives, before entering Jerusalem. He sent two of His disciples on ahead to procure a mount. It was not that Jesus needed a ride, for it was not a long walk into Jerusalem. To my knowledge, this is the first time Jesus is said to have ridden an animal. The purpose for riding into Jerusalem on a never-ridden foal of an ass was to fulfill prophecy, and thereby to proclaim His identity as Messiah. The prophecy is that of Zechariah 9:9:

Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! Look! Your king is coming to you: he is legitimate and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey—on a young donkey, the foal of a female donkey.(Zechariah 9:9).

There is a whole paragraph devoted to a description of the details surrounding the procuring of this donkey and its foal in all three of the synoptics (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). John alone cuts these details from his account. Why the detail in Luke and the other two gospels? Several responses can be given:

First, this was an important fulfillment of prophecy, which our Lord was intent on fulfilling precisely. While Luke does not stress the element of fulfilled prophecy as much as Matthew, this is nevertheless a factor. Jesus was, by His deed, declaring His identity as Messiah.

Second, the miraculous power of the Lord Jesus is portrayed. Some might think it a miracle that the animals were released to these two disciples. But Jesus’ exact knowledge of the whereabouts of the animals, and of the response of the owners, indicates our Lord is completely aware of and in control of His environment. The fact that the animal on which Jesus rode had never been ridden may be a hidden clue to His deity. In Numbers 19:2 and Deuteronomy 21:3, the animals which were to be sacrificed to God were not to have borne a yoke. Is the fact that this animal had never been ridden a clue to the fact that it was, as it were, an offering to God, something to be used in His service? I believe that our Lord’s choosing to ride on a never-ridden animal is a miraculous event. I can almost see the owners snickering to themselves, saying, in effect, “Just wait until he tries to ride this animal. Is he in for a jolt!”

Third, the fact that the disciples did not first ask to use the two animals, but only gave an explanation for their right to take them, is an indication of the Lord’s right to make use of anything man owns. Think of the various ways in which a previously unridden animal could have been acquired. Jesus Himself could have gone and asked to use it. He could have identified Himself as Messiah, and explained that He had certain prophecies to fulfill, and the use of that person’s animal would be an important contribution to His kingdom. Or, Jesus could have sent His disciples on a similar task. Once they explained who Jesus was, and then asked for the use of the animal, they surely would have gotten it. They could, of course, have promised to bring the animals right back, or could even have offered to rent or buy them.

Yet none of these things were done. Instead, these two disciples went into the village, and without previously asking permission, started to take the animals. All this was done in the sight of the animals’ owners. We would say that this act was “gutsy.” And remember that the two disciples are doing precisely what Jesus instructed them to do. They were told to locate the animals, to take them, and to give an explanation only if they were challenged, which they were. In effect, the owners were probably saying something like this, when they saw their animals being taken, “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?”

The amazing thing to me is that once told, “The Lord has need of it,” the owners cease to protest, allowing the two disciples to lead the two animals away, with no statement being made about their return. I wonder if they ever expected to see these animals again. Our understanding of the response of these owners must begin with an understanding the value of these two animals to their owners.60 Wealth in that part of the world, was often measured in terms of cattle. Put into today’s culture, the ass and its colt would have been something like a red Porsche convertible. Can you imagine allowing two strangers to get into it and drive off, with only the words, “The Lord has need of it”? What was it about these words which satisfied the owners of these animals?

The key is to be found in the word, “Lord,” which, in every account is the same term. What did the word “Lord” convey to the people of Jerusalem, and to these people in particular? I believe that this term “Lord” was understood by the animals’ owners to refer to Jesus of Nazareth. I further assume that the term “Lord,” based upon its Old Testament roots, implied the deity of our Lord, and thus His sovereignty over all creation. The term “Lord” conveyed to these animal owners that Jesus was not only Messiah, but God, and thus He had every right to possess these animals, whether He ever returned them or not. His same authority is that which enabled and empowered Him to be in perfect control over this animal, which had never been “broken,” and which would normally have refused to bear Jesus as a burden, or to go where He wanted it to go.

Not only the act of riding this animal into Jerusalem, but also the way in which the animal was obtained was a statement by our Lord of His authority. And take note of the fact that His authority, at least in the obtaining of the animals, was not exercised by our Lord directly, but through His disciples, who were sent by Jesus, in His authority. The later implications of this will be spelled out by Luke in his second volume, the book of Acts.

The is a very obvious application here, as I see our text. Jesus, as the Messiah, has every right to possess what is ultimately His. If Jesus were the Messiah, if He was the divine Son of God, why did He lack anything? Why did He need to borrow these animals? Why did He not miraculously create two beasts? What we see here is consistent with our Lord’s first coming. His parents had no place to bear the child, other than a borrowed stable. Jesus had no home of His own (cf. Luke 9:58), and no means of support (Luke 8:1-3). He stayed, I assume, sometimes under the stars (Luke 21:37), and at other times it may well have been in borrowed quarters. Jesus was even buried in a borrowed tomb (Luke 23:50-53).

Why did the Creator of the Earth (Colossians 1:16) put Himself in need, so that He had to borrow what belonged to others? In the first place, everything does belong to Him. In the ultimate sense, the foal and its mother did not belong to men, but to God. They were only stewards of things. Thus, for the Son of God to “borrow” what belongs to others is really for Him to possess what is His. Second, as the Creator of the Earth, and as the Creator of man, our Lord also possesses man. Man is not free. God is free, free to do with what He created as He chooses (cf. Romans 9:19-24). Thus, for the Son of God to lay claim to these two animals was consistent with Him right to lay claim to all of His creation, including man. We are His possession, to dispose of as He chooses.

While their theology may not have been very well developed, and while the owners of the animals may not have been eager for them to be used (on they other hand, they may have delighted to have Jesus use them), they did not, indeed, they could not resist His will, even when conveyed through two of His disciples.

But back to my point of application. Do we really believe that Jesus Christ possesses all things, and that He has the right to lay claim to them, to dictate how they are used, at any time? I think that we are far less inclined to let go of things than those who owned these two animals. It is one thing to acknowledge our Savior as “Lord,” and as the possessor of all things; it is quite another to live this way. He has chosen to continue, even to this day, to lay claim on the possessions of men. He has chosen not to carry out His earthly work, not by supernaturally creating the means, but by laying claim on those means which He has placed in the hands of men. Our willingness to release possessions into His hands is a testimony to His lordship.

We know that when the Kingdom of God comes, the King will come, and He will possess His kingdom, and all that is in it. None are exempt. Those who have renounced and resisted His ownership will resist Him no longer. His enemies will be defeated and destroyed.

The Untriumphal Entry
(19:35-40)

They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

We would best begin to understand this event by recognizing several important details:

(1) We know that this incident was the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy (9:9), even though Luke did not make a point of saying so, as Matthew and John did.

(2) Not everyone in Jerusalem participated in the triumphal entry, but mainly those who could be called His disciples. From all of the accounts, it is evident that while there was a great crowd involved in welcoming Jesus to Jerusalem (cf. John 12:12), many of the people of Jerusalem were not involved. The whole city, Matthew tells us was stirred (21:10), but not all were involved. It would seem that the majority of those involved in this celebration were those not from Jerusalem, but those pilgrims who had come to Jerusalem, either to celebrate the Passover (John 12:12), or to follow Jesus there (Luke 19:37), or both.

(3) No one really understood the meaning and significance of what they were doing as they welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem. John informs us that even the (12) disciples did not understand what they (or Jesus) were doing:

At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him (John 12:16).

When asked by the Jerusalemites what was going on, and who this “Jesus” was, the crowd responded that He was a prophet, not that He was the Messiah:

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee” (Matthew 21:10-11).

Luke informs us that Jesus was praised for His miracles (Luke 19:37).

When we look at our Lord’s response to the “triumphal entry,” He regarded it as a rejection, and not as a reception of Him as Messiah (cf. Luke 19:41-44). Just as Jesus could say that those who crucified Him “knew not what they were doing” (Luke 23:34), so we see that the crowds did not know what they were doing here either.

Some of the disciples did regard Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem as the entrance of the Messiah, of Israel’s King, but they did not understand when His kingdom would be instituted, or how. Others seem to have regarded Jesus as someone less than this. Many, simply did not know who He was, or what was happening. One wonders how many got caught up in the excitement and the activity, without knowing what was happening at all.

I think that some did not regard Jesus as the Messiah, but thought that they could appoint Him as such. I wonder if those, who according to Matthew’s account (21:11), thought of Jesus as “the prophet,” also thought that they could almost forcibly make Him their King, as the people wanted to do in John 6:15. Jesus would therefore have not been regarded highly enough, but only as One who had the potential for being King, if the people appointed Him as such.

(4) We are not told that Jesus commanded this of His disciples, only that He refused to prohibit them from doing so. I cannot prove it, but I have the impression that Jesus did not tell the disciples what to do, once the two returned with the donkeys. The texts of all four gospels reads nearly the same (John’s version is, predictably, somewhat unique, but in agreement in the details). Jesus told the two disciples to go to the nearby village and to get the two donkeys they would find. There is no report that He told anyone what to do when they returned with the donkeys. An explanation for this is not difficult. The disciples knew the prophecies about Messiah. They knew Zechariah’s prophecy well, and thus, when Jesus sent two of them to get two donkeys, the connection between this command and Zechariah’s prophecy was self-evident to them. They did not need to be told what to do, they simply responded to the prophecy they knew was being fulfilled. And so Jesus did not need to tell the disciples what to do once the donkeys arrived. They spontaneously did what they knew should be done in the circumstances. Jesus refused to prohibit His disciples from this welcome, but it does not seem that He commanded them to do so.

A question should haunt us, at this point. If the “triumphal entry” was, in reality, a failure, a kind of fiasco, something which only our Lord really understood, then why did Jesus allow it to happen? Indeed, why did Jesus cause it to happen? Why would Jesus precipitate such an event, which did nothing more than to excite the crowds, but produced no kingdom?

I believe that there are several answers to this question. The first response is that it was absolutely necessary for Jesus to publicly identify Himself as the King of Israel, even though (and we might even say, in order that) He might be rejected and put to death. Many were wondering who Jesus was. Many wondered if He were the Messiah. His act of riding into Jerusalem on a donkey was His way of dramatically and emphatically saying, “I am the King of Israel.”

The second reason why I believe Jesus precipitated the triumphal entry was in order to affirm not only His identity as Messiah, but also His deity, and thus His right to be worshipped by all men. Just as the owner’s protest at the disciples’ taking of the donkeys was the backdrop to Jesus’ authority to possess them, so the protests of the Pharisees over the praise of Jesus is the backdrop to His right, as Messiah, to be praised. The Pharisees, of course, not only rejected Jesus’ deity (cf. Luke 5:21), but also His identity as Messiah. How, then, could they allow Him to be praised? They insisted that Jesus stop the people from praising Him. Jesus refused. He said that if the people were silenced, the stone would cry out. Jesus was the Son of God. He not only deserved praise and worship, it could not be silenced.

That is what you and I are to do now, my friend. If you acknowledge Jesus to be the Son of God, to be your Savior, then He must be praised. How is it that a rainy day can keep us from joining others in praising Him? How is it that a beautiful day can do the same, by giving us a “day out on the lake,” rather than with the saints, praising Him? It is one thing for those who deny Jesus as Lord to fail to praise Him. It is another for those who name Him as Lord and King to refuse to worship Him. Heaven is an eternity of praise. When He comes as King, every knee will bow to Him, and every tongue will utter His praise (Philippians 2:9-11). Let us not be guilty of keeping silent when we should be praising Him. And is not our bearing witness to Him a form of praise as well? Do we not refuse to praise Him when we fail to tell others of Him and of His love? Let us surpass the stones!

(5) The “triumphal entry” of Jesus provided a forceful impetus to the Jewish religious leaders to get rid of Jesus. The triumphal entry convinced the Pharisees that they must act both quickly and decisively to get rid of Jesus. He was winning the masses over. He must be stopped, and stopped quickly (John 12:19).

Jesus’ Response to His Reception
(19:41-44)

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

What an amazing contrast there is here between the joyful reception of Jesus by the crowds with our Lord’s tears. They thought they had received Him in a way that was appropriate and fitting; Jesus viewed the event as a disaster, and as leading to disaster, for Jerusalem.

Jesus wept as He approached the city of Jerusalem (v. 41). The reason for His tears is given to us in verses 42-44. First and foremost, Jerusalem failed to grasp “the things which make for peace.” Just what are “the things which make for peace”? In our day, this is a matter of great disagreement and heated debate. The “hawks” think that peace is obtained by might, by having sufficient arms to serve as a threat to any who would think of attacking us. The “doves” think that the absence of armament is the answer. In Israel, the believe was that Messiah would bring peace to the nation when He appeared. Thus, at the birth of the Lord Jesus the angels sang of “peace on earth” (Luke 2:14).

But how was this peace to be accomplished? By and large, it would seem that the majority of people thought that this peace would be accomplished by a sword, and by force. They therefore supposed that when Messiah came, He would utilize military might, and that He would throw off the shackles of Rome. When Jesus wept because Jerusalem did not know what would bring about peace, He wept because He knew what lay ahead for this wayward, wrong-thinking nation. Instead of Messiah’s coming bringing about the demise of Rome, the rejection of Jesus as Messiah meant the destruction of Jerusalem, at the hand of Roman soldiers. Jesus therefore spoke of the coming destruction of Jerusalem, which took place in 70 A.D.

It was not by Messiah’s use of force and power, nor by the death of Messiah’s enemies that the kingdom was to be brought about, but by Messiah’s death, at the hand of His enemies. It was not triumph which would bring in the kingdom, but the tragedy (from a merely human viewpoint) of the cross. God’s ways are never man’s ways. Man would have brought about the kingdom in many ways, but man would never have conceived of doing so by a cross, by apparent defeat, by the suffering of Messiah Himself, for the sins of His people.

Here, then, is a third implication of our Lord’s deity. If Jesus was Lord (that is, God), then not only does He possess the right to possess man’s possessions (vss. 28-34), and the right to possess man’s praise and worship (vss. 35-40), he also has the right to institute His kingdom in the way He sovereignly chooses, rather than by those means which men might prefer. Messiah will come to possess what is His, to receive man’s praise, and to bring about the kingdom in His own way. Men seemed to suppose that the kingdom would be founded on acts of power and might and by more miracles (cf. v. 37), but Jesus was intent on fulfilling the will of the Father, and thus to bring about the kingdom by personal pain, rejection, and suffering. Such is the way of His cross.

Why is it, my friend, that we still cling to the idea that where God is, there will be miracles, wonders, and prosperity, when the way of our Lord was one of need (as for the donkeys), of rejection, suffering, and pain? If we are to be followers of our Lord, need we not expect to take up a cross, even as Jesus said? And need we not anticipate rejection and suffering, even as was His experience? Just as men resisted God’s way of inaugurating His kingdom, so we continue to resist God’s way of doing things.

Jesus’ Attack: Not on Rome, but on Religion
(19:45-48)

Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, “ ‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.

Did the Israelites expect Jesus to immediately wage an attack on Rome, and on its rule? Jesus did not do so. What Jesus did was to attack the Jewish religious system itself, and to renounce its evils. Jesus marched on the temple, for a second time (cf. John 2:13-16) and cast out the money-changers. This was the holiday season, and “business” there in the temple area must have been booming. But instead of using the temple for a place of prayer and worship, the religious leaders made it a place for personal gain. Jesus went back to the temple each day, and taught the people. For a short time, at least, the temple would serve its original purpose. Soon, that temple, as indicated earlier (vv. 43l-44), would be destroyed. God was going to see to it not only that the old temple was torn down, but that a new temple was created, a temple not made with hands, a temple where there was no distinction between Jews and Gentiles, for all who are one in Christ (cf. Ephesians 2:11-22).

Jesus’ attack on the religious system of His day was strongly reacted to by those with a vested interest—the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the leaders of the people. They were not yet able to kill Jesus, due to the crowds, but they were intent on putting Him to death at the earliest possible moment. The battle lines were drawn, but it was not between the Messiah and Rome, but rather between Messiah and religion, the Jewish religion.

Conclusion

The triumphal entry, then, was not only Jesus’ claim to be Israel’s Messiah, but also a clear declaration of His deity. He was also Israel’s Lord. His rights as Lord are therefore affirmed and demonstrated in these verses. He as Creator, has the right to possess men’s possessions. As a perfect and holy God, He has the right to possess men’s praise and worship. As the Lord, He has the right to attack the false religion of that day, and to replace it. All of these rights are the rights of the One who was not only Israel’s Messiah, but also Her God. They are the prerogatives of deity.

This declaration of our Lord’s deity, and of His rights as Israel’s Lord are very important, in the context of Luke. Jesus is about to be rejected by His own people, handed over to the Gentiles, persecuted, abused, and crucified. To some, it might have seemed that Jesus had “high hopes” which were unrealistic, and which failed. To some, the cross may have seemed both a disaster and a defeat. But just prior to His death, Jesus declared His deity, demonstrated His right to possess, to receive man’s praise, and to determine how the kingdom would be established. All of these things happened under protest, but could not be stopped. Jesus’ death on the cross was not an evidence of Jesus being overrun or overpowered by His opponents, but of His laying down His life voluntarily, for the sins of His people, as God’s means of establishing the kingdom. What a vital truth we see demonstrated here, just prior to our Lord’s death.

We are not like Israel, for if we have received Jesus as our Savior, we have received Him as Lord, as God, and as our Savior. We have come to acknowledge Him as the King of the Earth, whose kingdom will soon be established on the earth. Why, then, are we failing to practice those things which declare His prerogatives as the King? We say that He is Lord, and yet we resist letting loose of our possessions, so that His kingdom may be furthered. We say that He is Lord, and yet we are reluctant to praise Him as we ought. When we come to church, and even when we come to a worship service, so often our religion is as self-serving as was that of Israel. We think of ourselves, talk of ourselves, and ignore Him who is our God, our Creator, and our Redeemer. We think of His kingdom today in much the same terms as did the disciples of Jesus’ day. We think in terms of the power and prestige we will have, rather than in terms of the praise He should have. We look for miracles and wonders and we want to see Jesus overcome our enemies, and we do not want to think of a cross, of suffering or shame, or rejection by men. We want our religion to be one that is self-serving, rather than one which calls for self-sacrifice. But if Jesus is both Lord and Christ, then He must have His prerogatives, He will have His prerogatives. He should possess our possessions, our praise, and our submission to His ways of bring about His purposes.


58 Edersheim writes of what going to Jerusalem meant to Jesus, in the context of its meaning to every Israelite: “To him it would be true in the deepest sense, that, so to speak, each Israelite was born in Zion, as, assuredly, all the well-springs of his life were there. It was, therefore, not merely the natural eagerness to see the City of their God and of their fathers, glorious Jerusalem; nor yet the lawful enthusiasm, national or religious, which would kindle at the thought of ‘our feet’ standing within those gates, through which priests, prophets, and kings had passed; but far deeper feelings which would make glad, when it was said: ‘Let us go into the house of Jehovah.’ They were not ruins to which precious memories clung, nor did the great hope seem to lie afar off, behind the evening-mist. But ‘glorious things were spoken of Zion, the City of God’—in the past, and in the near future ‘the thrones of David’ were to be set within her walls, and amidst her palaces.” Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., [photolithoprinted, 1965), I, p. 235.

59 Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, II, pp. 479-480.

60 I refer to owners (plural) because Luke uses the plural. It may well be that these people were so poor that it took several of them to be able to purchase this one (then pregnant, perhaps) animal. I can well remember the four families who lived in seminary housing, jointly purchasing a clothes drier, which cost a total of $20.

Related Topics: Christology, Prophecy/Revelation