Jerusalem’s King Arrives
BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD
Intro: Matt, Mark, Luke & John all contain the following material that leads up to the Passion Week: Jesus beginning His ministry in Galilee, Jesus feeding the 5,000, and today’s text often called Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Luke’s account of this parade-like event differs from the other three evangelists, and where he diverges, we find helpful insight and piercing truth. If you are looking for palm branches and shouts of “hosanna,” you will not find them in Luke. If you are expecting the procession to make it into the city, you could be disappointed. Jesus and His band of followers only approach the city in this passage, and they stop in time for Christ to look over it and weep. Perhaps the first clue in the text is the most important. If we are not careful, we could treat it as a placeholder phrase that only serves as a bridge to the next story. But Luke does not throw words away. They are all inspired by God’s Spirit. And this 5-word set plays a crucial role in our understanding.
Luke 19:28 When He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
When He said what? What is the “this?” It is the previous parable our Lord had just delivered, where He compared Himself to a nobleman who left to secure a kingship for Himself and to return.
The drama in this passage plays out in three scenes:
SCENE ONE – AN ANCIENT PASSWORD
Luke 19:29 And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples,
Luke 19:30 saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here.
Luke 19:31 And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’”
Jesus sends two unnamed disciples to retrieve a colt on which He will ride into Jerusalem.
Luke presents Jesus’ instructions as a mixture of the ambiguous and the specific.
From which of the two villages listed did they leave, and which one was their destination to find the donkey? We are not told.
But once they locate the colt, we learn that: (a) it will be tied (b) no one has ever sat upon it (c) they will be questioned as if they are stealing it (d) there is a secret answer that will ease any suspicions.
The colt being tied up alludes to an impulsive ruler from a prophecy in Genesis. Luke means for us to contrast him to Jesus.
Genesis 49:11 Binding his donkey to the vine, and his donkey's colt to the choice vine, he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes.
This ruler in Genesis indulges himself with no boundaries. He ate and drank in the vineyard until his clothes were stained with grapes. All the while, his colt was tied to the vine awaiting the next ride. His wealth allowed him to live without limits.
In stark contrast, Jesus rides on a colt that must be borrowed. Earlier, He noted that He had no place to lay His head (9:58). He is the king who has oriented His reign towards the least and towards the lost. The rich and powerful seemed to have little interest in Him.
Luke 19:32 So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them.
Luke 19:33 But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?”
Luke 19:34 And they said, “The Lord has need of him.”
Luke 19:35a Then they brought him to Jesus.
What are we to think about Jesus’ prophetic achievement? Precisely what He predicted about the colt came true – 100% accurately.
If this had been the only instance in the Passion narrative of Jesus knowing something remarkable – an impossible knowledge only God could possess – we might be tempted to rationalize it.
“The only way He could have known that colt would be tied at that location at that specific moment was if He had prearranged it with the owners ahead of time.”
But this is the first of many predictions Jesus will make during the week of His crucifixion and Resurrection.
He will foretell:
Jerusalem will be destroyed
Luke 21:20 But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.
Peter & John attending a secret meeting to prepare the Passover
Luke 22:10 And He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters.
Luke 22:11 Then you shall say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’
Luke 22:12 Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready.”
Judas betraying Him
Luke 22:21 But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table.
Peter denying Him
Luke 22:34 Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”
Julius Wellhausen – We must not rationalize here. Jesus has not already ordered the colt, nor made an arrangement with its owners, but He knows beforehand what will happen, because God, who directs what is to happen, is with Him.
One commentator had called this, “part of His mysterious otherness.”
What did the colt signify?
Jesus has divine knowledge.
Jesus is the king promised in the Old Testament.
Samuel prophesied to the children of Israel that a king would lay claim to the resources of his subjects.
1 Samuel 8:16 And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work.
Also in the OT, the messianic king enters Jerusalem the same way Jesus does in Luke.
Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.
The commandeering of a beast of burden was the prerogative of a king in the ancient world. Why did Jesus presume to take the colt? Because that’s what kings do. He is clearly making a statement about Himself.
“None may ride on a king’s horse and none may sit on his throne and none may make use of his sceptre” (m. Sanh. 5:2).
The unridden colt recalls the “two milk cows that have never been yoked” (1 Sam 6:7) that pulled the cart on which the ark of the covenant was returned to Jerusalem.
The ark enters Jerusalem unlike common objects, and Jesus enters Jerusalem unlike ordinary pilgrims, riding on a yet unbroken beast.
Additionally, two similar episodes will characterize the Passion narrative.
Jesus will suffer the degrading death of a criminal, even though He is the furthest thing from a criminal.
He bears no guilt (Pilate: “I find no fault in this man” 23:4). There is no reason for His death (Pilate: “nothing deserving of death has been done by Him” 23:15). He has committed no sin (thief: “this man has done nothing wrong” 23:41).
Jesus is “lain...in a tomb where no one had ever been lain before” (23:53).
SCENE TWO – AN ANCIENT RED-CARPET EVENT
Luke 19:35b And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him.
Luke 19:36 And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road.
Some from the crowd, out of respect/deference, fashion a makeshift saddle from their own clothing.
Then they place the Lord Jesus onto the colt – a coronating act. This is a spontaneous enthronement.
1 Kings 1:33 The king also said to them, “Take with you the servants of your lord, and have Solomon my son ride on my own mule, and take him down to Gihon.
1 Kings 1:34 There let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel; and blow the horn, and say, ‘Long live King Solomon!’
1 Kings 1:35 Then you shall come up after him, and he shall come and sit on my throne, and he shall be king in my place. For I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and Judah.”
To further honor Him on His approach to the city, others cast their outer clothing down on the ground, making a regal path for the Lord – it is a 1st century red carpet, so to speak. It is a pathway now fit for royalty. And Jesus is the king.
They were saying, “King Jesus, You are so much greater than I am – so much more worthy of honor – that when Your donkey colt walks all over my clothing is it no insult to me, it is a privilege.”
He is treated to an extravagant expression of supreme honor.
With Jerusalem now coming into view, the people explode in ecstatic praise to God for all that Jesus represents.
Luke 19:37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen,
Luke 19:38 saying: “’Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Jesus being extolled by His own as He traveled down the Mount of Olives is the polar opposite of King David’s tragic flight up the Mount of Olives after his son Absalom rebelled against him and took his throne.
2 Sam 15:30 So David went up by the Ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up; and he had his head covered and went barefoot. And all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went up.
This triumphant procession in Luke is a textbook “divine comedy.”
It is a story not simply of Jesus’ royal entry into Jerusalem, it is the return of the king, who in David fled Jerusalem in defeat and sorrow, and here in the “Son of David” (18:38) enters Jerusalem in triumph and joy.
The nobleman who received a kingdom in a distant land and returned as king in judgment is none other than Jesus who will enter Jerusalem being acclaimed by the crowds as the true king of Israel, fulfilling what the angel promised Mary before our Lord’s birth.
Luke 1:31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.
Luke 1:32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.
If, “peace in heaven and glory in the highest” sounds familiar, it is a reference to the praises of the angels at Jesus’ birth.
The angels had celebrated what was achieved on earth in the birth of Jesus. The crowd of disciples now celebrate what will be achieved in heaven by Christ’s journey through death to Resurrection.
SCENE THREE – AN ANCIENT DISAPPEARING ACT
Luke 19:39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”
Luke 19:40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”
The first recorded words of the Pharisees in Luke were “Who is this who speaks blasphemies?” (5:17). Their last recorded words are here, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples” (v.39).
Sandwiched in between these two rejections, is an overwhelming antagonism against Jesus and His stated mission. In the preceding parable, the Pharisees find their counterparts in the citizens who said, “We will not have this man to reign over us.”
They demand that Jesus tell His disciples to stop praising Him as if He’s God. But there are some things that simply must be said.
Jesus replies that in such a high moment of destiny (the extolling of heaven’s king), if the disciples are silenced, then lifeless stones would take up their refrain. Creation must in some shape or form bear witness to the coming victory of the cross.
This is a clear moment in Scripture where Jesus acknowledges that it is right for others to worship Him as God. It’s a claim to deity.
The nobleman who went to receive a kingdom and returned as king is this king, Jesus.
He approaches Jerusalem on a colt; He knows the future; He reverses the fortunes of David – all these point to Jesus as the king from heaven.
It is in this text that Jesus is rightly celebrated as “the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Will you give King Jesus the honor that He royally deserves? As amazing as it must have been to see His triumphant ride into Jerusalem, Jesus has even more glory now!
After He rose from the dead, He ascended into heaven and was exalted to the right hand of God the Father, where he is seated on His royal throne.
So give Jesus the honor He merits. Submit to Him as your sovereign King and Lord. Throw your life down before Him. Repent of your sins and call on His name.