Triumphantly into the Temple

Jesus not only entered Jerusalem in a triumphal parade, he continued on into the Temple. As he continued his triumphal entry in to the temple (Matthew 21:12–17), his actions and words challenge you to re-evaluate how you respond to him. Ask yourself, do I respond to Jesus the way that I should? Are we as a church being the kind of church that the Lord wants us to be? In what ways do I need to be cleansed? How should we be worshiping? Do you appreciate the three-fold office of Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah?

Acknowledge Jesus as your gentle King. You are familiar with the story of the Triumphal Entry, the major event of Palm Sunday. Finally Jesus is willing to be hailed as the messianic King. He clearly accepts the majestic, messianic titles of “Son of David” and “the one coming in the name of the Lord.” At the same time, his actions send the message that his followers, both outside Jerusalem that day, and today, need to change their expectations as to who he is. Matthew details Jesus’ instructions to bring a donkey and her colt. The actions bring to mind Zechariah’s prophecy of the gentle character of the King in Zechariah 9:9. He shows his gentleness even in making sure that the formerly unridden colt has its mother next to it as it is ridden. The Son of David is following, in reverse, the path that David has used as he fled from Absalom, 2 Samuel 15:30, and likely retraced when he returned to the city.

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The Compassion of the Son of David

We try to make facilities accessible to those who have physical challenges. But in the days Jesus walked on earth there was little that blind men could do except to beg. In Matthew 20:29–34 you are introduced to two of them—and to the One whose heart goes out to them.

Trust Jesus as the Messianic King. Jesus is on a journey. Jesus is traveling to Jerusalem to suffer and die. Matthew keeps reminding you of the journey, Matthew 19:1; 20:17. Jesus has made the purpose of his journey clear, Matthew 16:21; 17:12; 20:18,19. A large crowd follows Jesus, perhaps hoping to witness the inauguration of an earthly kingdom. Certainly the disciples had been thinking along that line. At Jericho two blind men appeal to him. They were doubtless sitting by the road in order to beg from travelers going to Jerusalem. Harmonistic problems can be resolved. Mark 10:46-52 and Luke 18:35-43 mention one blind man, Matthew and Mark place the incident as Jesus is leaving the city, Luke as he is entering it. Mark and Luke are under no obligation to mention both—the focus on Bartimaeus. There may have been an old city of Jericho and a newer, active town.

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The Ransom Paid

Imagine that you’ve just received news from your doctor that you have a life-threatening illness. A close friend drops in, you share the news, and the response is something like, “I’m sorry, but I did come over to ask to borrow your lawnmower.” That insensitivity faintly reflects James and John’s request of Jesus in Matthew 20:20–28.

Jesus Christ came to serve. Jesus came as the Son of Man. Matthew paints a dramatic picture of Jesus leading his disciples towards Jerusalem, verses 17–19. He has repeatedly warned his disciples that he will suffer and die in Jerusalem (are they wondering why he keeps traveling towards the place where he says he is going to be arrested and killed?). As he once again tells his disciples that he is going to suffer and die (this explanation includes the element of being handed over to the Gentiles), he identifies himself as “the Son of Man.” This title resounds with glory and authority as you look back at Daniel 7. At the end of the incident, in the text that so clearly speaks of his substitutionary work, verse 28, he again uses the title to describe himself. In both places it sharpens the contrast between the position he gave up in order to enter the world to serve, to suffer, and to die. If you want to really know the Lord Jesus Christ, appreciate both his infinite glory and the depth of his humiliation for you.

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The Son of Man Goes to Jerusalem

The trip that is described in Matthew 20:17–19 has a definite purpose.

Recognize the purpose in Jesus’ trip to Jerusalem. Jesus went to Jerusalem to be crucified for you. Jesus had given earlier indications of his impending suffering and death, Matthew 16:21; 17:12, 22-23. The beginning of the journey is indicated in Matthew 19:1, and with Matthew 21 he enters the city. The time was the celebration of the Passover feast. Jesus and his disciples were among the crowds making the trip, when Jesus took the twelve aside on the way to prepare them for what was to happen. Jesus presents himself as the true Passover lamb, the fulfillment of all the acts of redemption God had accomplished in the Old Testament. Happen. This prophecy is more specific than earlier ones. It implies a trial by the Sanhedrin (since he is to be condemned), and specifies that it is at the hands of the Gentiles that he will be actually mocked and executed. Even crucifixion is specified.

Believe that the Son of Man had to suffer in your place. Jesus is consciously carrying out the will of his Father in heaven. The certainty of what will happen (reflected in the future tenses) reflects the fact that his work is directed first of all to his Father. It is God’s righteous wrath against sin which he is satisfying by his death. (Remember that the Son was sent by the Father precisely for this purpose. The persons of the Trinity work together to accomplish your salvation.) Matthew has described increasing opposition from the leaders of Israel. He also shows your Savior’s growing determination to carry out the work assigned to him. Matthew 1:21 showed the purpose of the Incarnation. Now the Savior is carrying out what he had come to do. Jesus uses the self-designation, “Son of Man,” with its reflections of glory from Daniel 7, to refer to his impending death. The contrast highlights the suffering which he will undergo in your place. “It is not that He must undergo humiliation, suffering and death because He is the Son of man, but that although He is the Son of man such a destiny is, paradoxically, in store for Him.” (Geerhardus Vos, The Self-Disclosure of Jesus, p. 236)

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