Here Comes Our King (The Triumphal Entry of Jesus)
Here Comes Our King (The Triumphal Entry of Jesus)242
Here Comes Our King (The Triumphal Entry of Jesus)
Main Idea: Delight and be satisfied in the King who has come.
- Worship the One Who Is Always in Control (11:1-3).
- Worship the One Who Submits to the Word of God (11:4-7).
- Worship the One Who Embodies Humility (11:7-8).
- Worship the One Who Alone Can Save (11:9-10).
- Worship the One Who Always Acts Justly (11:11).
Steve Lambert is a Christian brother who lives in Washington, D.C., and is a member of Capitol Hill Baptist Church. He reflects on the differences between Christianity and Islam:
In no other manner are the differences between Muslims and Christians more sharply contrasted than in the difference between the characters and legacies of their prophets. Perhaps the contrast is best symbolized by the way Mohammad entered Mecca and Jesus entered Jerusalem. Mohammad rode into Mecca on a warhorse, surrounded by 400 mounted men and 10, 000 foot soldiers. Those who greeted him were absorbed into his movement; those who resisted him were vanquished, killed, or enslaved. Mohammad conquered Mecca, and took control as its new religious, political, and military leader. Today, in the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, Mohammad’s purported sword is proudly on display....
Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, accompanied by his 12 disciples. He was welcomed and greeted by people waving palm fronds—a traditional sign of peace. Jesus wept over Jerusalem because the Jews mistook him for an earthly, secular king who was to free them from the yoke of Rome, whereas, Jesus came to establish a much different, heavenly kingdom. Jesus came by invitation and not by force. (Dever, It Is Well, 65)
Mark 11-16 record the final week of our Lord’s earthly life. Mark devotes more than one-third of his Gospel to “Passion Week.” Some have referred to Mark’s Gospel as a passion narrative with an extended introduction (Stein, Mark, 33). It will be a busy week culminating in His death on the cross and His glorious resurrection.
243The week begins with Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem during Passover. Traditionally we call it “the triumphal entry.” It is an unambiguous declaration of His kingship. The event is so important it is recorded in all four Gospels (Matt 21; Mark 11; Luke 19; John 12). With His arrival the die is cast! There will be no turning back. The Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world (1 Pet 1:20) will now be slain in space and time. The atonement for sin, ordained in eternity past, now becomes historical for all to behold.
Jerusalem would be abuzz with activity. During Passover the population could swell to three times its normal size as pilgrims from all over the world descended on it. However, this Passover would be unlike any other had been or ever would be. As Paul would write in 1 Corinthians 5:7, “For Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.”
Worship the One Who Is Always in Control
Jesus and the disciples, as they drew near to Jerusalem, came to Bethany on the Mount of Olives. Bethany was the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead (John 11:38-44). It will be the place where Jesus will stay during the final week of His life (Mark 11:11).
Our Lord then sent two unnamed disciples to a local village telling them as they entered they would find a colt tied up, on which no one had ever sat. As the ark of the covenant needed an unyoked carrier (1 Sam 6:7; cf. Num 19:2; Deut 21:3), so the true ark of the covenant, the Lord Jesus, required an unridden animal. It is bringing the Holy One into Jerusalem.
Jesus has planned everything out to the last detail and is in complete control. From the moment He enters Jerusalem, the prerogatives of deity are present. Jesus is “Lord” and Master of every detail of His divine destiny. Sinclair Ferguson is spot on when he says, “His majesty and authority began to shine through from the moment of his entry into Jerusalem” (Mark, 180). The Mount of Olives rises about two hundred feet higher than Mount Zion. Its crest is less than a mile directly east of Jerusalem. It is known for its many olive trees. Its slopes were the path of David’s retreat from Jerusalem to escape capture by Absalom (2 Sam 15:30-32). On this mount Solomon grieved God by erecting idols for his foreign wives to worship (1 Kgs 11:1-10). Ezekiel witnessed the glory of God on the Mount of Olives (Ezek 11:23). Jesus, the Son of David, made his royal entry into Jerusalem from here (Mark 11:1-10; see Matt 21:1-10; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-13). On this244 mount Jesus wept over the disobedience and blindness of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44). The disciples witnessed Jesus’ ascension into glory on this mount (Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-12).
In Acts 1:10-11 Jesus said He would come again in the same way they had watched Him go. Zechariah 14:4-5 tells us what will happen when those holy feet touch down once again where He left:
On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. The Mount of Olives will be split in half from east to west, forming a huge valley, so that half the mountain will move to the north and half to the south. You will flee by My mountain valley, for the valley of the mountains will extend to Azal. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come and all the holy ones with Him.
Worship the One Who Submits to the Word of God
Mark 11:4-7 (cf. Zech 9:9-17; Matt 21:4-5; John 12:14-15)
The two disciples went and found things as Jesus said. They brought the colt to Jesus, they threw their cloaks on it (for Him to sit on), and Jesus sat on it to ride into Jerusalem. But there is so much here between the lines! Jesus has walked everywhere else in His ministry throughout Israel except for those occasions when He was riding in a boat. This is the one and only time He rides an animal, a small donkey.
All of this is highly symbolic in light of Old Testament prophecy, expectations, and allusions! The phrase “The Lord needs it” (Mark 11:3) uses the same phrase as in 2:25 to justify David’s eating “the sacred bread” when he and his men were hungry. David’s greater Son is here! His riding in on a donkey also is a declaration of His kingship and a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, as Matthew 21:4-5 and John 12:14-15 make clear. Zechariah 9—which, as is often the case with Old Testament prophecy, does not make a clear distinction between our Lord’s first and second coming—surely would have been in the minds of those watching all of this unfold:
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout in triumph, Daughter Jerusalem! Look, your King is coming to you; He is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem. The bow of war will be removed, and He will proclaim peace to the nations. His dominion will extend from sea to sea, from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth. As for you, also, because of the blood of your covenant, I will release your prisoners from the waterless cistern. Return to a stronghold, you prisoners who have hope; today I declare that I will restore double to you.... The Lord their God will save them 245on that day as the flock of His people; for they are like the jewels in a crown, sparkling over His land. (Zech 9:9-12, 16)
Our Lord lived His life from beginning to end in total submission to the Word of God. His life, death, and resurrection were the unfolding of the drama of redemption. No wonder He would say in John 5:39, “You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me.”
Worship the One Who Embodies Humility
Jesus mounts the young colt and begins the parade into Jerusalem. Here is deity on a donkey! The prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 beautifully makes a connection to His riding in on a donkey and His humility. He had no need to break it in—this donkey knew its Creator, its Master! Yes, He is bringing righteousness and salvation. And yes, He comes humble and mounted on a donkey.
In response, “Many people spread their robes on the road, and others spread leafy branches cut from the fields.” It was a festive time of celebration as they welcomed this King (cf. 2 Kgs 9:12-13). Coming in this way our Lord now proclaims openly what He has forbidden until this moment: I am your King! Jesus with purpose and intentionality presents Himself as the Messiah, knowing that it will provoke the Jewish leaders resulting in His crucifixion. Nevertheless, His declaration also is bathed in gracious humility.
The paradoxical kingship of Jesus shines so bright at this moment! He is royalty and deity wrapped in a single person, yet He moves forward in His declaration to be King in lowliness, weakness, and service. He does not come in pomp, but in meekness and lowliness; He comes in humility and simplicity. I absolutely love the way Sinclair Ferguson captures the moment:
Think, for a moment, what Mark’s record would convey to those who read it first—the Christians in Rome. No doubt many of them had seen generals enter Rome in triumph to receive the accolades of victory. How stark the contrast between Roman glory and Jesus’ humility must have seemed. How mighty and powerful the sword and political power by contrast with King Jesus! Yet we know that his kingdom was established, while the glory that was Rome disappeared into oblivion. We know that what Jesus did in Jerusalem established a kingdom which would outlast all the kingdoms of this world and break in pieces every man-centered kingdom which sets itself against it. Jesus246 had come to take his throne—but had committed himself to begin his reign from a cross. (Ferguson, Mark, 181)
Worship the One Who Alone Can Save
I am fascinated by the shouts of the crowd. Their words could not be truer, but they could not have been more misunderstood by those who were shouting them. Only Jesus knew the full significance of what they were saying.
“Hosanna” means literally, “Save, I pray.” It draws from Psalm 118:25-26 (from the Egyptian Hallels; Pss 113-118) which says, “Lord, save us! Lord, please grant us success! He who comes in the name of the Lord is blessed. From the house of the Lord we bless you.” Passover celebrated the Hebrew people’s deliverance out of Egypt. Now the nation of Israel anticipates a messianic liberation and deliverance from Rome.
“Blessed” draws from Numbers 6:24-27 which says, “May Yahweh bless you and protect you; may Yahweh make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; may Yahweh look with favor on you and give you peace. In this way they will pronounce My name over the Israelites, and I will bless them.” The One who is blessed, or better, who will be the blesser, is (1) He who comes in the name of the Lord, and (2) He who is “bringing the coming kingdom of David!”
- 2 Samuel 7:12-16 is being fulfilled!
- Isaiah 9:1-7 is being fulfilled!
- Isaiah 11:1-10 is being fulfilled!
- Jeremiah 23:5-8 is being fulfilled!
- Ezekiel 34:23-24 is being fulfilled!
- Micah 5:2-4 is being fulfilled!
But prophecy was not being fulfilled in the way they thought, hoped, and believed it would be. They are right. He is their King. But He is not here to purge Israel of foreign domination. No, He is here to purge His people of their sin! They are looking and longing for a temporal, political, and military Savior. He, however, is bringing what only He can bring: a complete and eternal salvation of body and soul! They want and expect a Savior only for Jews, but He is a Savior for the whole world, for any and all who will believe on His Name. John 1:12 says it so well: “But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” John 3:16 says it so well: “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes247 in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 14:6 says it so well: “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” Acts 4:12 says it so well: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.” First Timothy 2:5 says it so well: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, Christ Jesus.” Christ’s salvation and triumph would be the victory of life over death, salvation over sin, truth over error, love over hate, forgiveness over condemnation. They cried out for salvation that day. Have you cried out to Him to save you? He is the only One who can.
Worship the One Who Always Acts Justly
This day ends rather uneventfully. Tomorrow will be a different day (11:12-25). Jesus enters Jerusalem, goes to the temple, looks things over carefully, sees that it is “late” (late for the temple?), and leaves with the disciples for Bethany.
I wonder if Jesus’ mind returned to the first time He saw the temple as a 12-year-old boy (Luke 2:41-52). He must have been impressed at that young and tender age. Not anymore—not knowing what He knows now and what will transpire in the coming days and years. Jesus does not come to the temple as a tourist or gawking pilgrim caught up in the fanfare of Passover and enamored by the spectacular beauty of the temple. No, He makes a commanding survey of the situation and goes away to return the next day. Then He will curse something—the temple—that should have been bringing the nations to God (Mark 11:17) but in reality was driving them away.
It would seem that this would have been the moment for Him to claim and receive His Messianic throne and kingdom. Amazingly, not one thing happens. The enthusiastic crowds have mysteriously vanished. Was He only “King for a day”? Jesus, with no fanfare whatsoever, leaves with the Twelve.
However, Malachi 3:1-2, a text Mark cites at the beginning of this Gospel, is lurking in the prophetic shadows:
“See, I am going to send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to His temple, the Messenger of the covenant you desire—see, He is coming,” says the Lord of Hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming? And who will be able to stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire and like cleansing lye.
The refining fire has arrived to purify that which is putrid. The cleansing lye has arrived to cleanse that which is filthy. He will start His work with the 248temple. He will finish His work on the cross. He acts justly when He judges. He is so worthy of our worship!
Our King has come, and our King is coming again. And what a difference there will be in His first and second advents.
THE FIRST COMING OF JESUS
THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS
He came to die.
He will come to reign.
He came on a little donkey.
He will come on a warrior horse.
He came as a humble servant.
He will come as an exalted King.
He came in weakness.
He will come in power.
He came to save.
He will come to judge.
He came in love.
He will come in wrath.
He came as deity veiled.
He will come as deity revealed.
He came with 12 disciples.
He will come with an army of angels.
He came to bring peace.
He will come and make war.
He was given a crown of thorns.
He will receive a crown of royalty.
He came as the Suffering Servant.
He will come as the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
Few bowed before the great King the first time He came. However, every knee will bow when He comes again (Phil 2:9-11). Are you looking? Are you waiting? Are you ready?
Jesus shall reign where e’er the sun
Doth his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.
Blessings abound where e’er He reigns:
The prisoner leaps to lose his chains,
The weary find eternal rest,
and all the sons of want are blest.
Let every creature rise and bring
Peculiar honors to our King;
249Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud Amen. (Watts, “Jesus Shall Reign,” 1719)
Reflect and Discuss
- How were Mohammed’s entrance into Medina and Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem symbolic of the movements they initiated?
- What are some other fundamental differences between Christianity and Islam?
- Some scholars contend that Jesus had arranged ahead of time for the donkey and colt to be available. Does this possibility affect the meaning of the text?
- Did it seem like events were in control or out of control during Passion Week? How is it encouraging to know that Jesus was in control of those events?
- What aspects of this fulfillment of prophecy could have been achieved by any ordinary man who set his mind to do so? What aspects could only have been miraculously fulfilled by the Son of God?
- What leaders do you know who like to make a grand entrance? Do you know any leaders who arrive humbly? Which kind is the better leader?
- Why didn’t Jesus use His power and growing popularity to make a grand entrance? How might His ultimate mission have failed if He had done so?
- What kind of Messiah did the people expect and want? What kind of savior do people want today—what do they want relief from? How does Jesus exceed those expectations?
- Do you think you would have been among those who welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem with shouts of “Hosanna!”? Do you think you would have shouted “Crucify Him!” a few days later?
- What would Jesus see if He came to your church and looked around?