Theme: Jesus as King
This week’s lesson raises and answers the question, “Is Jesus really God and King?”
Matthew 21 :6-11
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting,“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
What a king! Not a warlike monarch, arriving on a battle steed to marshal his armies for action. Rather, Jesus comes “humble, and mounted on a donkey,” as Zechariah says (v. 5). In these far-off days a donkey was not an ignoble animal. Kings did ride them. When David appointed Solomon to be his successor as king of Israel he had him seated on his personal mule and taken to Gihon to be anointed by Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet (1 Kings 1:32-40). But the donkey did symbolize that Jesus was coming in peace, not for war, and that his was to be a gentle, peaceful reign. This is what Jesus was indicating by his action and what Matthew emphasizes by retaining the word “gentle” in the quote. John omits the line containing “gentle” in his quotation, because he is interested only in the fact that Jesus’ riding on a colt fulfilled the words of Zechariah.
Is Jesus ever going to do battle? Yes, indeed. In Revelation 19 he is described as arriving on a white horse to judge and make war (v.11). His robes are dipped in blood (v.13), which probably harks back to the warlike figure of Isaiah 63, who comes from Edom with his robes dyed crimson. But that is for then. For now the king comes humbly and in peace, for his is a peaceable kingdom. We sing in the hymn “Lead On, O King Eternal” For not with swords loud clashing, Nor roll of stirring drums, But deeds of love and mercy, The heavenly kingdom comes.
Up to this point Jesus had been keeping his messianic claims a secret lest there be a premature attempt to make him king and because Jesus was not the kind of king the people wanted. But now, knowing that the time of his passion was at hand, Jesus deliberately provoked this demonstration.
What did the donkey symbolize?
When will Jesus do battle?
Why did Jesus keep his identity a secret up to this point?
Why was Jesus not the king of kings that the people wanted?
Read Zechariah 9 and find other similar prophecies about Jesus’ coming in other prophetic books of the Bible.