"Welcome the King of Peace"
P. G. Mathew | Sunday, December 10, 1995
Copyright © 1995, P. G. Mathew
In this passage we see Jesus, with his disciples, making his way to Jerusalem from Galilee for the express purpose of arriving there for the celebration of Passover. Now this Passover celebration was of particular significance because the hour had finally come for Jesus to die in Jerusalem as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Jesus had spoken several times to his disciples about his death, in Matthew 16:21, 17:22 and 20:17, but they did not understand what he was saying about a suffering Messiah. The disciples believed that Jesus would soon enter Jerusalem and announce himself as the popular conquering Messiah who would liberate them in the same way that the Israelites were liberated from Egyptian oppression and bondage. They wanted to be politically free and economically prosperous as in the golden age of David.
On Friday of that week they arrived in Bethany, and spent the Sabbath in the house of a man named Simon. On Sunday they resumed their journey to Jerusalem, which was about two miles west of Bethany.
The King Who Comes in Peace
Jesus was aware of the significance of this time. Five hundred years before, Daniel prophesied in Daniel 9:24-27 the precise time at which the anointed Messiah would be cut off. In Zechariah 9:9 Zechariah prophesied the exact manner of the Messiah's entry into Jerusalem. Jesus was aware of these prophecies, so he deliberately fulfilled Zechariah's prophecy at the time prophesied by Daniel. He assumed the role of the Messiah, the Son of David, the King of Israel. He would enter Jerusalem, not as a conquering Messiah on a horse, but as the peaceful Messiah, on a donkey, an beast of burden symbolic of peace, because one does not wage a war on a donkey.
Jesus instructed two of his disciples to procure a donkey and colt. He was about to perform a sacred act which required a colt that had never been ridden. Although Jesus is the King of the universe, he was poor, so he borrowed the animals from their owner. He told the disciples to untie the animals and bring them to him. If anyone asked, they should say, "The Lord needs them," and the owner would immediately let the animals go. Jesus would return them after his sacred use of them.
Jesus was very aware of his status as Lord of all. He is the Creator, Owner, and Ruler of all, and he was now acting publicly, because his hour had come and there was no more need for secrecy. In fact, Jesus initiated this grand entry to provoke the authorities into killing him sooner than they had planned. They planned to murder him after the feast but according to God's foreordination, he must be killed during the feast, because Jesus is "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." During this feast about 250,000 lambs would be killed, and about 2 1/2 million people would be in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, but despite all this, no one could be saved unless the true Lamb, Jesus Christ, was killed.
When the disciples returned, the people threw their outer garments on the donkey and seated Jesus on it. They also threw their garments onto his pathway, honoring him as Jehu was honored centuries before when he was anointed king of Israel by Elisha. They began to shout jubilantly: "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" (Psalm 118)
Jesus was deliberately fulfilling the messianic prophecies: "Say to the Daughter of Zion," meaning the Israelites, the people of God, "'See, your King comes to you.'" This King was coming to save, to help, to liberate and deliver his people. Isaiah said the same thing in Isaiah 52: Thy God reigns! Thy God is coming to you for your salvation.
The King Who Saves
Jesus is the King of peace, and he is also the King who saves. Ahead of him and behind him the crowd was crying, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" There was a vanguard and a rear guard, and in the middle was Jesus Christ seated on a donkey. Hosanna is a prayer to God, meaning "Save us!" It also means praise to God. Son of David meant they were recognizing him as the Messiah, as one who comes in the name of the Lord.
This is exactly what blind Bartimaeus said in Mark 10: "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! meaning Jesus, Son of David, Messiah, save me! Hosanna comes from the Hebrew word yasha , which means to save or deliver. Only sinners need salvation, and only the Messiah, the Son of David, is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The name Jesus also comes from this Hebrew word yasha, so we read in Matthew 1:21, "You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." This is true salvation which God provides through his Son. We all must die, and only Jesus Christ saves us from sin, from law, from Satan, from death, and from hell.
So this was a proper prayer: Hosanna! Hosanna! It was both prayer and praise to the Son of David. Yet the truth is, most people who cried, "Hosanna," did not understand salvation in this way. They were expecting Jesus to enter Jerusalem to conquer the Romans and deliver the Jews politically and economically.
Jesus accepted this prayer and this praise. He was not telling them to stop, that he was not the Messiah, that he was not able to save them. Oh, no! He accepted it, and that annoyed the Pharisees. To them it was blasphemy and so in Luke 19:39 they told Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!" But Jesus would not do that, because he is the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who saves. So Jesus said, "I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out," in other words, I am the Sovereign Lord and even the inanimate stones would cry out as a witness to my person and my work.
The Sadducees were also upset later when they heard the children crying, "Hosanna to the Son of David," in the temple precinct. The Sadducees controlled the temple area, and they were upset and annoyed by the children's jubilant cries. Like the Pharisees they told Jesus to make the people stop, but Jesus responded, "Have you never read, 'From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise'?" If you read that in the context (Psalm 8:2) it is speaking about praising the Lord in contrast to the enemies who refuse to praise the Lord. Jesus quotes this and identifies himself as the Lord, whom the children are praying to and praising. But these people, these teachers of the law, had studied the Bible all their lives and missed the center of Scripture, which is Jesus Christ, the Messiah. We also do this. We can read the whole Bible, and yet miss him and our relationship with him. It's an amazing thing.
Jesus Christ. God silences his enemies by bringing forth praises from an unexpected realm--infants and sucklings. Oh, sophisticated philosophers , materialists, scientists and politicians do not want to submit and bend their knees before this eternal Son of God, but here and there you find naive people who are not so wise so doing. God has not called many wise or sophisticated people (1 Corinthians 26-29). In fact, he calls the lowly, despised things, things that are not, causing them to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and he enables them by the mighty power of the Spirit of God to cry out, "Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David!" That is what happened to us. We were not the mighty or the powerful, but God showed us mercy and brought forth praise from our mouths to our God.
His enemies were shut up by the wisdom of Jesus. Let me say to you, this Jesus is coming as King and Savior to bring peace between God and man. The greatest problem of the world is not any social problem or economic problem. PGM The problem of the world is sin against God and God's wrath against man. God is angry at sinners every day, and he expresses it, as we read in Psalm 7:11. There is only one way to make peace with God, and that is by the putting away of man's sin by the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, the Lamb that God provided--his eternal Son who became man.
So the people were correct in praying, "Hosanna!" The children were correct in singing, "Hosanna to the Son of David." Bartimaeus was right in calling him, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Mark 10:52 says he was saved and followed Jesus. He was in the procession, and I am sure he was singing with great gusto and passion, because he was enabled to see, not only with his eyes but with his spirit the glory, grandeur and majesty of this one who was riding on a donkey.
The King Who Weeps
Unlike a conquering political king, when Jesus saw Jerusalem he wept. Why was he weeping? He had visited Jerusalem many times before. Even as an infant he was brought to the temple where Simeon took him into his arms and prayed that he could now die, having seen the salvation of the Lord in the infant Jesus. That was spiritual understanding given to him by the Spirit of God. Jesus had come to Jerusalem many times, but as John 1:11 says, "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him."
Jesus was not weeping because of his impending death. He came to die. But read Luke 19:42: "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace--" He didn't finish the sentence. He was full of emotion. Why? He was weeping for his people who would reject him. The highest offense we can commit is to not believe in the inexpressible gift of God in the person of Jesus Christ. What will bring us peace? It is not financial security or national security. Peace with God can only be brought by the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the King of Israel, who was coming, riding on a donkey--not waging war. He is coming to wage war later on, but now is the day of salvation.
The authorities wanted to kill the Prince of Peace. Blinded by sin and self-centeredness, they were planning this for a long time. Jesus wept as he saw the blatant unbelief in Jerusalem. The Daughter of Zion was rejecting the King who was coming to her in peace to secure her salvation. So he wept as he thought of the coming destruction of Jerusalem, knowing that in forty years the Romans would come to destroy the temple and the city.
Read Luke 19:41-44. "As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, 'If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace--but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you in peace. '" That was the reason Jesus wept over Jerusalem.
There are times and seasons, and every time is not of the same significance. Some times are pregnant with significance. If you are a Christian, the time when you received Jesus Christ into your life was ordained by God to be a time of great significance for you. In Luke 4 we read how Jesus went to Nazareth on a Sabbath and read from the prophecy of Isaiah: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor . . . to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor," which is this wonderful, significant season in which God deals with people in peace. Then he closed the book and said, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing," meaning this is the day of jubilee, the year of jubilee, the time in which God deals with us in pardon, in forgiveness, and in mercy.
In Matthew 16:1-4 Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, the religious sophisticates, because although they were able to interpret the appearance of the sky and the weather, they were unable to interpret the significance of the time when God sent Jesus Christ, the Messiah, to save the world. If they had understood it, they would have believed in him and been saved and liberated from the shackles of sin, death and hell.
In Luke 19:1-10 Jesus told Zacchaeus, "I must stay at your house today," and "Today salvation has come to this house." That was a significant time in the life of Zacchaeus, and not only he but his whole house was saved.
Blind Bartimaeus recognized his moment. When he heard that Jesus was passing by, he knew that Jesus was the miracle-working Messiah, the Son of David, who caused the blind to see, so he cried out to Jesus. That was his hour! That was his time! There might have been no other opportunity for him. That was the moment of God's favor for Bartimaeus.
In 2 Corinthians 6 Paul says, "As God's fellow workers, we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says, 'In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.' I tell you, this is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.'" The same Jesus is found today whenever the gospel is preached. Do you understand the significance of your time?
In Luke 19:44 Jesus made the very significant statement that "you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you." Jesus Christ is God! It is God who is coming to you to save you. It is God who is in the gospel being presented to you. And Jesus wept when he saw the unbelief of the Daughter of Zion, and the tragedy that would happen in a few years' time, that the Romans would take her infants and dash them on the walls. He was weeping for them, not for himself.
Let me ask you, as Jesus looks upon you, is he weeping because of your unbelief in him, or is he rejoicing over you because you honored him by trusting in his person and work? God is coming to you in Jesus Christ. There is no other Savior. There is no other salvation. Today is your time. The most wicked sin a human being can commit in this world is to treat Jesus Christ with contempt, when, in fact, he is the Messiah, he is God, he is the Savior. He alone can give us peace with God, for he alone solved once and for ever the sin problem by his own death on the cross. Not to believe in him, not to trust in him, is the most wicked thing you can do and Jesus will weep as he sees you in hell--the weeping Jesus. Let us not reject the greatest, indescribable gift that God is giving us in Jesus Christ.
The King Who Cleanses the Temple
In Matthew 21:12 we see Jesus entering the temple area, which consisted of the court of the Gentiles, the court of women, the court of Israel, the court of the priests and then the naos , the sacred Holy of Holies. The Gentiles were forbidden to enter any other part of this temple complex and could only come to the court of the Gentiles.
Solomon spoke about Gentiles who would hear the wonders of the God of Israel and come to pray at the temple. In 1 Kings 8:41 he said, "As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name--for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm--when he comes and prays toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name." Isaiah 56:6,7 speaks about foreigners coming to God's holy mountain where he would give them joy in the house of prayer.
But what was happening? The Sadducean priests controlled the temple precincts and gave rights to traders so that, instead of worship and prayer in the court of the Gentiles, there were animals, dung, noises, hucksters, salespeople and exchange people who exchanged worshipers' money into the temple coinage, getting a high commission in the process and taking extra money from poor people. Animals certified by the priests were being sold right in the court. The high priest allowed all of this, and I am sure he received benefit from the trading. The priests probably also made a huge amount of money for themselves. This is religious huckstering. It prevented the Gentiles from worshiping God in quiet and in peace.
To the authorities what mattered was money. They were not worried about worship. The Sadducees did not believe in a world to come, resurrection, angels, spirits, salvation, or hell. What mattered to them was power and money--how to make another drachma with religion. They did not need salvation by Jesus. They worshiped money, and would kill Jesus to secure their power, position and prosperity. This was true in Luther's day when the church sold indulgences, making a large amount of money, telling people that they could buy salvation instantly and free themselves and others from purgatory. This is also true today in many churches, that people are using religion to make money. No longer are we preaching salvation through the death of Jesus Christ, which is the real salvation, the real gospel. Who needs Jesus and his gospel when we can make plenty of money using his name? The bottom line is money.
Jesus, therefore, exercised his kingly authority and drove out the money changers, buyers and sellers. He did not seek the permission of Annas and Caiaphas to see whether he could do this. He is the King with authority. In Matthew 12:6 Jesus said that one greater than the temple was there. God himself was there, opposing all idolatrous worship. He wanted the Gentiles to be able to worship God in peace, because salvation is for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews.
After Jesus did this, everything was quiet. There was peace in the court of the Gentiles. The Gentiles could now come and pray to the God of Israel and be saved. And in Matthew 21:14 we read that the lame and the blind also came. The priests had never allowed the lame, the blind, the deaf and the lepers near the temple. Jesus Christ came, healed them and ushered them into a holy relationship with God.
The King Who Rules
None dared to question the authority of Jesus as in anger he cleansed the temple and created a quiet place for Gentiles to worship in. But later in Matthew 21:23 the authorities did question his authority to do this: "Jesus entered the temple courts, and while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. 'By what authority are you doing these things?' they asked. 'And who gave you this authority?'" These are unbelieving people. They were blinded so that they could not see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
In Matthew 21:42 Jesus asked them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in his eyes'?" Jesus was that stone, and in verse 43 he was now going to tell them what would happen to them: "Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit." Think about that. Have you been serious about the gospel? There comes a time when it is taken away from you. There will always be someone else who will sing his praise and say, "Hosanna!" And then Jesus said, "He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces," meaning broken properly and usefully, meaning trusting in Jesus Christ. "But he on whom it falls," which is going to happen when he comes back on a horse, "will be crushed."
In Matthew 22 :41 Jesus said he was the Christ, and in Matthew 26:63-64 he said he is the Son of God. He had just publicly, without any equivocation, declared that he is the man of authority, the stone rejected by the people of Israel, the Christ, the Son of God.
What does Jesus say about himself in Matthew 24:30? People only see him on a donkey but a time is coming when the donkey will be exchanged for a horse and he will come again, no longer in peace but in glory and in power. "At that time, the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky and all the nations on the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory." Look at Matthew 25:31: "When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory." He is the King who is coming to judge.
In his first coming Jesus came in humiliation and peace, riding on a donkey. He came to make peace with God in his person for us sinners. He came to die and usher in the year of jubilee, the year in which God forgives our sins in response to our believing prayer. This is the Jesus I am proclaiming. This is your time of salvation. Will you recognize today the one who brings peace to you? Would you ask God to take the scales from your eyes and save you, like Bartimaeus, that you may see who this Jesus is? He comes in peace. Will you recognize in this Jesus God's visitation for you, to save you? Will you repent of your sins and believe on this King of peace, and be saved forever?
Today is your day of peace, but tomorrow will be the day of judgment. In Revelation 19 we see Jesus coming again, but not on a donkey. Verse 11 says, "I saw heaven standing open, and there before me was a white horse whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire and on his head are many crowns." Do you question his authority? He has many crowns. "He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God." He is the man of war, at war against all wicked people and all unbelievers. "The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. 'He will rule them with an iron scepter.' He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."
That is what will happen tomorrow, and soon your tomorrow may come. This is the hour of significance for you. A Savior of peace is being offered to you now, but tomorrow may be different. Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation. Will you not take refuge in Jesus Christ? Will you not join the children and cry out, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Save me--from my unbelief, from my spiritual blindness. I welcome you, King of peace."
Whatever your burden is, whatever your problem is, let me tell you, he who can save you from your sins can save you from all problems. Will he not along with him also give you all things? Will you trust in him, rest in him and rely on him? He will save you forever, and you have nothing to fear as to what happens tomorrow.
Heavenly Father, have mercy upon us and save us. Deliver us from materialism and philosophies and every kind of nonsense. We repent of our sins and trust in Jesus Christ alone, the Lamb of God that was crucified for our sins. In Jesus' name. Amen.
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Copyright © 1995, P. G. Mathew
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