The final week - the presentation of the King
The Final Week: The Presentation of the King (Matthew 21:1-9)
The word king actually means "one who is able." Until the last week of His ministry, Jesus rejected the title "King." He always was King in the profoundest sense, for preeminently He is the One who is able. If you are a Christian, you have acknowledged this and staked your eternal welfare on that great fact.
Jesus presents Himself as King to every man and in every generation. There are some timeless truths about His kingliness. The same Christ who entered Jerusalem in a triumphal procession, enters the lowly heart of believer on the same principles. What are they?
The King Prepares
As Jesus prepared His final appeal, everything about Him speaks of a Sovereign who has a firm grip on the help of time and steers a certain course. His hour has come. He prepares with regal authority. His preparation displays a sense of command: "go, . . . find, . . . bring" (v. 2). For the only time in the Gospels, He calls Himself "Lord" (v. 3). The moment to openly demonstrate His messianic secret, His hidden identity, is finally at hand.
He prepares with profound symbolism. Other prophets had dramatized their messages in Jerusalem. Now, the object of their prophecies will dramatize His message. In solemnity, He rides a young animal never before ridden. This was the prerogative of a king. Solomon, the lesser son of David, rode a donkey to his coronation. Now, the greater Son of David does the same. The lowly ass is the burden bearer of the East (the horse is the beast of war). Other kings burden their subjects. This King bears the burdens of His subjects!
He prepares with prophetic consciousness. Jesus makes His own a prophecy written five centuries before (Zech. 9:9). The context of the prophet spoke of a coming King who would be rejected. The peculiar quality of His kingdom is to be meekness. The Hebrew word means, literally, "One who does not resist." Jesus will no more force Himself on you than He did on Jerusalem. He presents Himself as the humble King, and then awaits your decision.
The King Receives
This is a strange King, and a still stranger parade. Kings' mounts were often covered with splendid clothes. This King rides on peasants's shirts. Most subjects die for their king; this King dies for His subjects. His court is little children, shouting "Hosanna." His soldiers arm themselves with palm branches. How strange to the Romans visiting the city. A King honored with old clothes and broken trees!
Most of the crowd spread their garments (v. 8). But not all. There were still men talking about the price of wheat, and women gossiping about the neighborhood. The world shook and changed that day, and some never knew it. Josephus says there were three million people in Jerusalem at Passover. The great majority of them never saw and never knew and never cared. Has this changed?
What a strange army this King has. It is an army that cries out words of peace. Hosanna literally means "save now" That was precisely what He could not do. He could not save as a royal king riding into the city. He could only save as a bloody King on a crossly throne. Jesus saw beyond the strewn garments to soldiers gambling for His garment. He saw beyond the strewn branches to the awaiting tree. Did His eyes bedew themselves with tears as He heard the "Hosannas" echo against the walls of Pilate's fortress? Other words will echo there on Friday. The crowd can change its shout.
The King Explains
Rebuked by Pharisees for receiving these praises (Luke 19:39), Jesus clarifies His situation. It would be necessary that the very stones cry out if men did not. This was His hour. The city will think it rejects Him, but in reality, He will reject the city. "You did not know the time of your visitation" (v. 44, NKJV). Do you?