Twenty-Eighth Day of Lent

Matthew 21:1-11

Prophecy is fulfilled! The King is here to redeem us, and free us from the oppression of Rome! Hearing this announced in Jerusalem, I would imagine a strong confident man riding into the city on a giant elegant stallion. I would imagine trumpets sounding, and armed soldiers accompanying this so-called “king”. I get the sense that this is similar to what Israel was expecting from the Messiah. However, our passage gives us a very different picture. Before entering Jerusalem, Jesus sends his disciples to fetch a lowly donkey on which to ride in on. A donkey is not an elegant animal, but one used to carry heavy loads. Perhaps this is a picture of what Jesus came to do? That is, to carry the heavy burden of the world’s sin.

On His borrowed donkey, Jesus then rides towards the city walls surrounded by His disciples and a massive crowd of people who had been following Him from Galilee. This predominantly Galilean crowd began throwing down their robes, and filling the street with palm tree branches. This would have been a substitute to laying out a royal red carpet for Jesus and His donkey to walk on. The crowd then began praising Jesus, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” They declared Him, “prophet, Son of David.” At this point Jesus enters the city, which would have been overfilled with visitors coming for the Passover week. His entry stirs up the crowds in Jerusalem and shakes the city! A new King would have posed a threat to the Roman Empire, who ruled Jerusalem at that time. A new prophet, from Galilee nonetheless, would have challenged the authority of the Jewish priests in the temple. “What’s going on here? Who is this?”

Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem may not have been what people expected. He came not as a warrior ready for battle, but as a humble servant, knowing full well that He was entering the city to lay down his life for the salvation of many. He did not come to free Israel from Roman rule, but to free all of humanity from the bondage of sin. He did not enter the city to take his spot on the throne, but entered to take our spot on the cross. "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!"

Rick Penner
Winnipeg, MB