A king may seem slightly irrelevant today. Even countries with a constitutional monarch may wonder whether it is worth its cost. Isaiah 62:10-12, however, points you to a King, whose coming would be in the future, but whom Matthew identifies as precisely the king you need.
Rejoice that your Savior has come. Recognize your need for your King. The prophet Isaiah was a contemporary of King Hezekiah. The southern kingdom of Judah, where he reigned, witnessed the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel by the cruel Assyrians, who also threatened them. While God delivered them, Isaiah’s prophecies also warned of a future captivity at the hands of the Babylonians that would result because of the sin of the southern kingdom. Isaiah not only warned of future judgment, he also proclaimed the word of the Lord about future deliverance. While this would include restoration, it looks beyond that to the coming of a King who would deliver from sin. Matthew, appropriately, reminds his hearers that the events of the triumphal entry were in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, as well as Zechariah 9 and Psalm 118. The crowds that welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem shouted praises without fully understanding the prophecies they were quoting. They welcomed Jesus, but missed the kind of Savior he truly is. Even the disciples were able to piece this together only after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. “What is given is a command to all who are to enter Zion to prepare the way for such an entrance. They are to clear the way of stone and to raise a banner high above the nations to enter Zion in triumph and victory. The reference is not to earthly Jerusalem but to the Zion of God, and the picture is that of Zion’s exaltation at the great influx of people. If there be any reflection upon a return from Babylonish captivity it is only as an example of this great return. The exiles and the nations come not merely from Babylon but from the far corners of the earth where they have been scattered. They come from a state of estrangement from God into the household of faith. . . . The Lord has come to Zion, and with Him is a great multitude, the reward of his own labor through which the Church is greatly enlarged.” (E. J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, Vol III, NICOT, pp. 472-473).
Your Redeemer came to restore justice. You know what the crowds that Sunday failed to see. You need more than someone who can solve problems, work miracles, and display power. All of that is included in “salvation” or “Savior.” But you need someone to make you holy, someone who will function as Redeemer. Recognize that Christ comes to restore justice, including, but not limited to treating one another properly. This King would come to satisfy the justice of God. He would deal with the problem of your sin, the problem that your sin makes you an offense to a holy God. That summons you to repentance and faith. “Christ comes to do mighty deeds, yes; but He comes primarily to restore justice. The redemption He wants to achieve is juridical first of all; just because it is basically that, it is also dynamic. By His perfect sacrifice and by His completely satisfying the law He wants to lay a foundation of righteousness under the living temple of grace, which is the church.” (K. Schilder, Christ in His Suffering, p.123).
Live today as the reward that your King brings with him. You are the King’s reward! The reward (see Isaiah 40:10) is the spoils of war. In this case, that reward is the people whom he redeems by his death and resurrection. Jesus accepted the worship given him that day. Some was sincere. Much was shallow. And yet he receives it, because he is, more than the crowd knew, the coming King. He would ascend in triumph, an event when these cries would indeed fit. Jesus accepts the cries because he would triumph by entering and conquering the lives of his people. You are the reward given to the triumphant King.
Because you are the reward given to the Savior, live as his holy people. Notice how Isaiah 62:12 emphasizes the character of his people. As Mark Jones has said, “Jesus is more concerned about your sanctification than you are.” He wants, he expects you to live to his glory.
The Savior whom Isaiah prophesied did enter Jerusalem as the great King. He did suffer, die, and rise for your salvation. That means that, as you follow him, you are his holy people, and you must continue to become more holy. But even though he has come, he is still coming. Look forward to the coming of your King. He is coming soon. In Revelation 22:12 the exalted Jesus, assuring John and the suffering church of his return, shapes his assurance in terms of Isaiah’s prophecy. He is coming soon, and his reward is with him. The message of Revelation is that, despite the suffering and even martyrdom faced by the church, Jesus is triumphant. He is coming, and he is bringing his people with him as his reward. Jesus draws a sharp contrast between the blessing that he gives his people and the judgment that comes on rejecting him and rebelling against his rule.
In the face, not only of persecution, but also the frustrations of living as God’s people in a broken world, take heart and stand firm because he is coming. Then there will be no more uncertainty. They the lines between righteous and unrighteous will be clear. And you will welcome him, not because you’ve manage to be good enough, but because you are a forgiven sinner, one who has washed his robes in the blood of the Lamb. His promised return makes every week holy.
This week live as the reward given to Jesus for his work as Savior, the reward that he in turn presents to his Father on the last day.