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The Presentation of the King

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Matthew 21:1-17

The Presentation of the King

I.       Intro

A.    Palm Sunday – a very significant day on the Christian calendar.

1.      Marks the beginning of the last week of Jesus’ life.

B.     In each of the gospels, Jesus was heading toward Jerusalem for the Passover celebrations and His eventual death, and on the way there, He was training His disciples to take over for Him when He was gone.

1.      In the book of Matthew, Jesus is just coming from in Jericho in chapter 20 where He tells the disciples that He is about to be delivered up to death and also where He heals two blind beggars. 

2.      In chapter 21, we have what’s called the “Triumphal Entry” which is the section of text that we will look at on this Palm Sunday.

C.     Matthew gives us four parts of this story to look at as Jesus is presented as King: the preparation, parade, purification and protest.  And with each event, he uses Old Testament Scripture to help us understand them.  At the end, there are three questions I want to ask you.

II.    Exposition

A.    The Preparation (1-5)

1.      Jesus and His disciples were coming in from Jericho on the east.  They spent nearly all day arduously climbing up the “Ascent of Adumim” and when they reached Bethphage they had to have been exhausted.

a.       The road from Jericho to Jerusalem was about 15 miles long.

b.      However, the road was nearly all uphill as there was a 3,300 foot (2/3 mile) difference in height.

c.       It was also very winding and dangerous. In fact, this is the road Jesus had in mind when He told the parable about the Good Samaritan.

d.      When they reached the top of the Mount of Olives, which is still to the east of Jerusalem, they stopped in a town called Bethphage.

2.      Jesus took this opportunity to send two of His disciples into the town to get two beasts of burden to complete the rest of the trip into Jerusalem.

a.       It was common for visiting royal emissaries or traveling rabbis to borrow the service of someone’s animal for the day, so this request is not unusual.

b.      Either Jesus supernaturally knew that the animals would be there, or it may have been that Jesus made this arrangement to use the animals in advance and sent His disciples to get them as He had arranged.

3.      Matthew helps us understand that this is not some random act, or that Jesus was too tired to walk the rest of the way to Jerusalem.

a.       Matthew understood that what Jesus was doing was purposely fulfilling Zechariah 9:9.

1.)    Zechariah 9 is a section of Scripture that describes God laying waste to all of Israel’s enemies and bringing peace to Israel.

2.)    Before Jesus came on the scene, people understood this passage as being Messianic, that is, that whoever would fulfill Zechariah 9:9 would be the Messiah.

3.)    “The daughter of Zion” refers to the people of Israel.  During this time right before the Passover, there would be in excess of 1 million people in and around Jerusalem that had come from all over the known world.  Certainly, this presentation was about to be done in front of the whole nation of Israel.

4.)    That a King would be coming “gentle, and mounted on a donkey” refers to the fact that He would be coming in peace and bringing salvation.

5.)    This is in contrast to military conquerors or kings and princes that came in riding huge stallions and surrounded by trumpets and escorts with all their pomp and circumstance.

6.)    Jesus was announcing Himself in a very different way: humble and gentle, offering the people what they needed, not taking what He wanted.

b.      Jesus was making a clear and definitive statement to the people who were paying attention.  He was the Messiah, the King of Israel.

B.     The Parade (6-11)

1.      Jesus mounted the makeshift saddles that the disciples had made with their coats and rode the colt into Jerusalem.

a.       Some translations say at the end of v. 7, “and He sat on them.”

b.      The “them” refers to the coats, not the two donkeys simultaneously.

2.      The crowds of people that had followed Him in from Jericho and which had grown once He reached Bethphage, began to lay their outer cloaks, along with palm branches, on the road in front of Jesus.

a.       They were treating Him as an arriving King.

b.      They were rolling out the “red carpet” for Him, just as the ancient Israelites did to King Jehu when he was proclaimed king in 2 Kings 9:13, and just as we do today for very important people, like heads of state that visit the White House.

c.       The branches in particular are symbolic of rejoicing.  There was a definite fervor and excitement that was building up now.

3.      The other thing that the crowds did was to shout from Psalm 118.

a.       The crowds of people had surrounded Jesus, both in front and behind.

b.      They were shouting “Hosanna” which means “Save us now, we beg you.”  And they were shouting it to Jesus.

1.)    These were familiar words to the people as Psalm 118 was one of several psalms that were quoted and sung frequently during the Passover festivities. 

2.)    They would have been as familiar to them as Christmas carols are familiar to us today.

c.       They were also calling Him the “Son of David” which was a Messianic title. 

1.)    In 2 Samuel 7, the prophet Nathan tells David that there will be someone from his lineage who would be King of Israel forever.

2.)    It is the same title that the blind beggars used for Jesus just as He was leaving Jericho for Jerusalem in chap. 20.

d.      The phrase “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” refers to a king who comes with divine purpose and blessing, as they recognized of Jesus.

e.       With everything the crowds who traveled with Jesus said and did, they recognized Him as the Coming King and welcomed the Kingdom that He was bringing.

4.      However, the scene changes a little once they reach Jerusalem.

a.       As they would descend from the Mt. of Olives towards Jerusalem, they would have been clearly visible to nearly everyone in Jerusalem.

b.      So by the time He actually entered, the entire city was abuzz with what was going on and they wanted to know who this person was.

c.       Most likely the crowds that answered that He was a prophet were people from Jerusalem who had seen the miracles He had performed previously, but who weren’t believers in Him as Messiah.  They were probably the same ones who would shout “Crucify Him!” in a few days.

C.     The Purification (12-14)

1.      Although Matthew doesn’t say so explicitly, the other Gospel accounts tell us that Jesus’ cleansing of the temple happened the next day, on Monday morning.

2.      It’s important to point out that the first thing that Jesus does as He enters Jerusalem as King, is not to seek out a throne to sit on, not to seek out “yes-men” to surround Him, but to cleanse His holy temple.

a.       The money-changers would sit in the courtyard surrounding the temple and charge the travelers to exchange their foreign currency for proper temple currency.

b.      They would then also charge to sell the animals that were required for the sacrifices at inflated prices.

c.       The mention of doves is significant because that was the sacrifice of the poor people; the people who could not afford to buy a lamb.  They too were being robbed.

d.      They did more than make a living at what they were doing, they were taking advantage of the situation and robbing their fellow-Jews.

3.      Jesus saw this abuse and began turning their tables over and upsetting everything they were doing.

a.       This was not the first time that He had done this.

b.      In John 2, three years earlier but also during the Passover festival, Jesus did the same thing to cleanse the temple.

c.       This was at the beginning of His public ministry, where He was declaring that He had come to remove the trappings of religion.  This second cleansing was at the end of His ministry, where He had come to prepare the temple for His perfect sacrifice.

4.      As Jesus was condemning those in the courtyard, He quoted two verses of Scripture.

a.       The first is from Isaiah 56:7.  The second is from Jeremiah 7:11.

b.      Both sections of Scripture rebuke the religious leaders for being unfaithful and for preventing the nations from coming to know and follow God.

c.       Also, although Matthew doesn’t indicate this, Jesus also fulfilled Malachi 3:1 (read). 

1.)    Not only is Jesus the Lord,

2.)    But He is also the messenger of the new covenant where hearts would be turned towards God and sins would be remembered no more.

5.      As a powerful example of this, Jesus allowed blind and lame people, people who would ordinarily not be allowed to come into the temple, to come to Him so that He could heal them and make them whole.

a.       Jesus replaced their acts sacrilege with His acts of mercy.

6.      The House of God was intended to be a house for prayer and supplication, where anyone, Jew or Gentile, could come and seek God’s forgiveness. 

7.      It was the place where Messiah would reveal Himself and usher in a new covenant that would accomplish just that.

D.    The Protest (15-17)

1.      Immediately there came a reaction from the religious leaders.

a.       Even though Matthew describes what Jesus did as “wonderful things”, the religious leaders were offended, even “indignant”.  Why?

b.      The first reason was that they were tied to the money-changers and received a commission for what they charged.  So when Jesus threw them out, they were going to lose a good deal of revenue.

c.       Secondly, they also saw that now young children were picking up on what the adults had been doing and were calling Jesus the Messiah, the royal Son of David who had come to save them.

d.      This was too much for them to handle, so they asked Jesus to make them stop.

2.      Jesus replied by challenging them with Scripture.

a.       In His reply to them He first accepts the praise that the children were given Him as the Messiah.  Again, using this moment to not only declare that He is the Son of God, but accepting the praise and worship of those who claim this title for Him.

b.      Then Jesus quotes another Messianic psalm to the religious leaders; Psalm 8.  He brings the point home that out of the mouths of those who were humble and simple the truths of God come forth, with true praise for Him.

c.       These children and young adults were praising God in the person of Jesus Christ and He wasn’t going to allow anyone to stop them.

1.)    Remember that Jesus had also previously rebuked His own disciples for trying to prevent the children to come to Him (19:13-15).

3.      After He was finished He went back to Bethany to prepare for the rest of the week to come.

III. Application

A.    Jesus came in peace to offer salvation

1.      Let’s read Zechariah 9:9 together.  He is just and endowed with salvation.

2.      Jesus did everything possible to let us know that He desires all men to be saved, and that salvation comes only through Him.

3.      We accept doctors and dentists because they have diplomas on their walls.  We accept car mechanics because they wear greasy coveralls.

4.      Jesus performed miracles and offered prophecies.  He walked on water and fed the 5000.  He accepted worship and offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.  We need to accept Him as King.

5.      He came not as a king full of arrogance and pomp that takes from people, but as a King who comes in meekness and humility and freely gives to people what they so desperately need:  forgiveness and salvation.

6.      Have you accepted this free gift and made this man your King?

B.     Jesus desires a purified temple

1.      Paul in 1 Cor. 3:16-17 calls our body a temple of God because the Holy Spirit dwells in us (read).

2.      His desire, therefore, is that we are holy, just as He is holy.

a.       This means cleansing ourselves of all things that defile us.

b.      All forms of selfishness, envy, lust, idolatry need to be removed. 

c.       We must respond positively and obediently to every conviction from the Spirit of God to remove this filth in our lives.  This is what Jesus desires.

3.      It is like getting your fluids changed in your cars and trucks and tractors.  If you keep allowing that sludge to build up and never deal with it, it won’t matter how nice it looks on the outside, it will be worthless for what you want it to do. 

4.      We don’t want to be worthless to God.  We want to be useful and acceptable.

5.      Romans 12:1 says that we are acceptable to God when we present our bodies as living and holy sacrifices.  This is our spiritual service of worship.  This is how God can use us.

6.      How clean is your temple?

C.     Jesus brought people into God’s presence

1.      First it was the blind and the lame.  Then it was the children.

2.      Both groups were not allowed to be in the temple area, but Jesus permitted it.  Why?  Because people are important to Jesus.

3.      I think of the friends in Luke 5 who brought their paralyzed friend on a stretcher to see Jesus.  They couldn’t get in the front door, so they lowered him down through the roof.  They were desperate to see Jesus because they knew what He could do.

4.      Who are you bringing to Jesus?  Who are you sharing this good news with?  Who are you bringing to church with you?

5.      Is there anyone you know who needs what Jesus gives: forgiveness, healing, a new life?  What are you doing to make that happen?

IV. Conclusion

A.    Difficult to look at this text on Palm Sunday without thinking ahead to Good Friday and Easter.

B.     Here was the rightful King of Israel, the Son of God in the flesh, the promised Messiah, and in a few short days He would offer Himself up as a sacrifice on our behalf.

C.     That truth needs to change our lives, your life and mine.  I pray that it does.

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