The Agenda of the King

Posted: November 26, 2012 in Matthew
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Matthew 21:1-11, “The Agenda of the King”

When was the last time you felt really disappointed?  Perhaps it’s been in the last few days, or even the last few months.  Usually disappointments are due to missed expectations.  We had been expecting something really great, and then when it didn’t happen, there as a huge let-down. 

This happens often in our relationships with other people, as folks don’t seem to meet the expectations that we set for them – and it happens often in our relationship with God.  We have certain plans and ideas for how we think things ought to go, and God has the unmitigated gall to have His own agenda. 🙂  We tend to forget that God is God, we’re not – and His plan and agenda always trumps our own.

That seems to be what goes on with the people of Judea as Jesus enters Jerusalem on what has become known as Palm Sunday.  This is the grand Triumphal Entry of Christ – people see Him as their great and glorious King, and they give Him the praise that He deserves as their King, Savior, and God.  Everything looks great at the beginning of Matthew 21, and it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that less than a week later, the equivalent of this morning until this coming Thursday, the people in Jerusalem experience a massive shift in attitude towards Jesus.  The Man that they had extolled as King, and sang the praises of God is the same Man for whom they cry out ought to be crucified along with the worst criminals of the city.  The change happens in a matter of days (not weeks), and it is incredible.

What happened?  How did it all take place?  Matthew 21 tells us how it all began.  It starts with the grand triumphal entry, and it ends with missed expectations and grand disappointment.  The people had certain expectations for Jesus as their Messiah King, and God had His own agenda.  God had His purposes working out exactly according to prophecy, and not a thing was going to sway Him from it.  What should the people have done in response?  Instead of imposing their agenda upon God, they should have submitted themselves to God’s plan for them.

[Context] Jesus has been drawing closer and closer to Jerusalem.  Things are coming to a climax, and now Jesus prepares to enter the city that will be the focus of His ministry and life.  What takes place over the course of a few short days is going to take up the remaining 8 chapters of the book of Matthew.  This is the reason Jesus came, and the gospel writer doesn’t want us to miss a moment of it!

Matthew 21:1–11
1 Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,

  1. Where? This event is the only mention of Bethphage in the NT (and it’s mentioned in all 3 synoptic gospels).  It was a village on the opposite side of the Mount of Olives from Bethany.  Bethany was the city in which Lazarus and his sisters lived, and Jesus had spent some time with them on the day prior. (John 12:1)  If we were to go the Mount of Olives, it wouldn’t look like much of a mountain, but it was considered a Mount to those in Judea.  Some believe this is the place where Jesus ascended to heaven after He had risen from the dead, and Luke might affirm that in his gospel account & the book of Acts (Acts 1:12).  Obviously none of that is in mind for the disciples at the time, but none of that would have escaped the attention of Jesus.
  2. This is a prophetic place.  The Mount of Olives is itself a significant location.  It is a famous burial ground outside of Jerusalem, and prophecy.  This is the location that God is expected to come on the Day of Judgment.  Zechariah 14:3–4, "(3) Then the LORD will go forth And fight against those nations, As He fights in the day of battle. (4) And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south." []  On the long awaited “day of the LORD,” all of the nations and armies (who the book of Revelation tells us will be serving Antichrist) will be coming against God. At the climax of it all, after God has already demonstrated His incredible power, Zechariah tells us “the LORD will go forth…and His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives…”  God physically appears incarnate (thus we must be speaking of Jesus Christ), and He comes in incredible power and glory.  In Revelation, Jesus comes upon a white horse with a sword coming from His mouth – apparently He gets off the horse and stands upon the Mount of Olives…starting an earthquake in the process.  That will be an incredible day!  (And we will be witness to it as we accompany Jesus as part of His army!)
  3. But that’s all to come later.  What is Jesus preparing to do now?  He’s going to present Himself to the Jewish nation at Jerusalem (as will be made clear in the following verses).  So put it together: at the very location which the Messiah will come in power and glory is the same location in which Jesus presents Himself to the nation as their King.  God has an incredible way of not only fulfilling prophecy to the exact specification, but of highlighting it in all sorts of ways!  The nation was long awaiting their Messiah King – Jesus is reminding them (not so subtly) that their King is not just any man, but the God-Man.  He comes not only in the authority of God, but AS God Himself.

2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. 3 And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”

  1. What did Jesus tell them? (1)  Go to the village (most likely Bethany), (2) find a particular donkey and its colt, (3) bring them, and (4) have an answer for these who ask.  There are several things we need to see here.
  2. The village. Question: why did Jesus need them to go to the next village?  He’s God.  He could have easily had a donkey wander up to where they stood, or had one materialize out of thin air.  Jesus could have had a local family in the present town lend Him their donkey.  He did none of these things.  He chose to send a couple of His disciples to the next town over (not far away) and go seek out a donkey & colt there.  There was participation and obedience involved.  These two disciples (unnamed) were invited to participate in the details of the grand presentation of Messiah, and they would need to be obedient in order to do so.
    1. Isn’t that the way Jesus still works with us within the Church?  God doesn’t need us to accomplish His work.  In fact, He would get His will accomplished far more efficiently if He did NOT use us!  Yet He chooses to use us – He invites us to participate.  When we read the Great Commission, we read of Jesus’ command to all of His followers to go out into the world and continue making disciples of all the nations.  We are invited to participate in the grand work of God.  The two disciples on this day were invited to help present Messiah to Jerusalem; we are invited to help present Messiah to the world!  What a grand privilege!  What incredible grace given to us that we would be included in such a thing!  Yet to take part, we must be obedient.  Just like the disciples would actually have to go into the next village, we have to actually go into all the world and be about the business of making disciples.
  3. The donkey and colt.  Interestingly, Jesus had a particular donkey in mind.  He did not tell the disciples to go find the first donkey they encountered, but to look for a specific one that had been tied.  Beyond that, there could have been several donkeys that were leashed up…this one had a colt with her.  Jesus had this donkey in mind, and He commanded the two disciples bring this pair to Him.  There was purpose involved.  Jesus is fully in control of the situation.  As vss. 4-5 make clear, Jesus’ actions were done exactly according to prophecy – Jesus was purposefully going about the process of making this happen.  The Messiah had to be formally presented to the nation of Israel before He was rejected; Jesus ensures that this will happen.  Jesus is not being dragged into Jerusalem kicking & screaming.  Jesus is not being surprised by an arrest through a sting operation.  Jesus is not shirking from the mission set before Him.  He purposefully goes through the needed process to ensure He goes into Jerusalem according to the plan of God.  There is not a single detail that falls through the cracks when we see Jesus fulfilling prophecy – every “I” is dotted and every “T” is crossed.
  4. Bring them.  This might have been viewed as rather brazen by the disciples.  After all, they were to bring a stranger’s livestock to Jesus.  We can imagine the scene: two guys walk into town, go to a specific house, untie the animals and start walking away.  Even if the owner of the animals had been known by Jesus and the disciples (of which we’re told nothing), it would have looked unusual.  Most likely it would have looked like theft!  Of course Jesus is not asking the disciples to steal a single thing – the animals will be willingly lent out, and all of this is done according to the command of the Lord & not the sinful will of man.  Yet there is no doubt this would have been an unusual request to fulfill.  There was trust involved.
    1. There is always trust involved when we obey God.  Obviously Jesus is not telling us to go take our neighbor’s donkey (or car, as it might be), but much of what God tells us through His word often seems unusual to our ears.  God tells us to be anxious for nothing (Phil 4:6).  "What?!  Doesn’t God know my bills & health concerns?"  God tells us to love our enemies (Mt 5:44).  "What?!  Doesn’t God know how much that person hurt me?"  God tells us to be of good cheer when we are persecuted. (Jn 16:33)  "Come on now, that’s just crazy talk!"  There is always trust involved as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.  When Jesus is our Lord, it means that Jesus is our Master & King.  To be sure, He is our friend & He is even our bridegroom – but He is still invested with authority, and we need to obey Him.  That means we need to trust Him.  It’s far easier to obey someone you trust than someone you do not.  Trust God!  God knows what He’s doing.  God is purposeful in His plans, which means that His commands have a reason.  We can trust how God is going to work things out to our good and His glory.
  5. Have an answer.  The objection is anticipated (which was recorded by Mark 11:5), but the answer is given in advance by Jesus. People would (rightly) be suspicious of these two strangers untying the animals and taking them away, and the disciples were to answer “The Lord has need of them,” and that answer would be enough to satisfy any questions.  Interestingly enough, the answer itself is a testimony that the Lord (the Master – God) was among them, and the answer would not be questioned by those who were present.  Jesus not only anticipated the question, but He also prepared the hearts of those who would ask it.  They would gladly see the Lord’s work accomplished.  Jesus was simply preparing His disciples how to do what it is that He needed done.  There was instruction involved.  Jesus is able to know both the objection and how to handle it.  He knows exactly how to instruct the disciples to equip them to do the will of God.
    1. Christian: Jesus instructs us on how to walk according to His will.  The Holy Spirit equips us to do the same.  There ought to be no doubt how to live as a believer and servant of Jesus Christ because He has given us His written word on the matter.  There ought to be no excuse not to do it, because He has given us the promise of His Holy Spirit to continually empower us along the way.  Jesus has already given us an answer to every objection – we simply need to walk in faith and appropriate it!  (How so?  Read the Book!  Ask God for the understanding, and ask the Spirit to fill you with power…)

4 All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: 5 “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”

  1. Notice how Matthew introduces the prophecy in vs. 4.  This is the first use of the phrase since way back in Ch 13.  When Matthew began his gospel account, he showed time and time again how Jesus is the expected King of Israel, when he appealed to the prophets.  The constant appeals to prophetic fulfillment took a back seat for a while through much of Jesus’ ministry, and now comes out again as the ministry starts to come to a climax. 
  2. Matthew is pointing out a prophetic method.  Everything Jesus had instructed the disciples to do was done according to prophecy.  Zechariah 9:9–10, "(9) “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. (10) I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.’" []  Contextually, the prophet Zechariah had taken up a prophecy against Syria, showing how they would be destroyed by a future army (most likely Alexander the Great).  Why?  The Syrians had oppressed the people of Jerusalem, and God would not ignore their crimes.  It was at that point that Zechariah saw something far greater than the judgment of Syria: he saw the future King of Israel!  He would come in peace towards Jerusalem, and His victorious hand would spread all over the world.  During the days of the Millennial Kingdom, Jesus’ rule will be characterized by peace, and all of the nations of the world will bow down in worship of Him.  To be sure, when He first arrives, there will be a massive military and spiritual victory over the armies of the enemies, but after that moment there will be 1000 years of incredible peace and joy.  What Zechariah did not write down in his prophecy was the several thousand year gap between verse 9 & verse 10.  Verse 9 was fulfilled the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem, and it looked forward to His eventual reign (as we still look forward to it today).
  3. The whole scene speaks of the humility of the King.  This isn’t the way people would expect a king to arrive.  To come riding in on a massive stallion…to come in a golden chariot…that would be the normal expectation.  Sure, there were past judges and kings who rode donkeys on the past, but after Solomon it just wasn’t something that a king would do.  Kings are too good for donkeys; royalty needs a more dignified mode of transportation.  But that’s not what Jesus did.  He came in on a donkey, and not even a fully grown one at that.  He rode in on the donkey’s colt.  How humble (“lowly”) is this?  Luke tells us that this was a colt on which no one had ever sat (Lk 19:30), so this would have been an extremely young donkey.  (The first rider this young donkey ever carried was the Creator of the Universe.  How great is that!) No doubt Jesus’ feet almost drug the ground as He rode.  This is not the glorious ride into Jerusalem as a victorious warrior; this is the humble ride in on a child’s plaything.  Like an adult sitting on one of those motorized horses at the front of the mall…
    1. What a simple picture of the incarnation of Jesus!  Almighty GOD became flesh and humbled Himself to dwell among us.  Like a grown man sitting on a rocking horse to spend time with his children, so our God descended to dwell among us.

6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them.

  1. The disciples were obedient.  Whatever was going through their minds, they trusted the Lord enough to walk in obedience and do what He commanded.  What they found was that everything was exactly according to what Jesus said would be.  They did indeed find a mother donkey with her colt – they were questioned regarding why they were taking it – they had no problem with the answer they gave – and they brought the animals to Jesus.  This is what Jesus had said, and this is what the disciples experienced.
    1. Goes back to the issue of trust.  God is worthy to be trusted because God is always right.  We can know that what God says will happen, WILL happen!
  2. There was no saddle for the king, so what did the disciples do?  They gave Jesus their own clothes to sit upon.  That’s not to say that the disciples were walking around in their undergarments; simply that they had clothes on which Jesus could sit.  At the same time, there is humility involved.  The humble king is served in humility.  They give up what is theirs in order to serve their Lord.  Just as Jesus gave up His own prerogative in order to serve God the Father, so we give up our own prerogatives to serve Him.  It seems that the disciples are finally learning to be humble – which is a tough lesson for any of us to learn.
  3. Prophetic timing.  One aspect that doesn’t really come out so much in Matthew’s account is when all of this took place.  Most scholars agree this happened the weekend prior to Passover in the year 33AD.  What makes that significant is how this relates to earlier prophecy centuries earlier regarding the timing of the Messiah, as related to Daniel.  Daniel 9:25, "(25) “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times." []  In context, the “week” that Daniel was told of referred to a 7-year period, counting the year as 360 days (according to the Hebrew calendar).  Thus Daniel was told that there would be 69 “weeks” (7-year periods) from the time of the command to rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince would appear to them, or 173,880 days.  Historically, we know exactly when the command to rebuild was given: the month of Nisan, during the 20th year of King Artaxerxes of Persiah (Neh 2:1), which was in 445BC.  That takes us to the exact timeframe that Jesus entered Jerusalem (and according to some calculations, the precise day!).
  4. Start to put some of this together: Jesus came to a prophetic place, in a prophetic method, at a prophetic time.  This underscores a couple of things for us: (1) Jesus perfectly fulfills prophecy…  (2) God had a plan in motion…

8 And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road.

  1. The disciples had laid their clothes on the donkey as a saddle for Jesus; the people laid out their clothes upon the road.  This is again an act of humility, and one particularly associated with submission to a king.  The people did this with Jehu, after he was anointed king. (2 Kings 9:13)  Jehu is particularly interesting in this case in that although he wasn’t the best of kings, when he was first raised to power, he brought the judgment of God from Jerusalem to the evil kings in the north.  God used Jehu to take vengeance upon the house of Ahab.  It’s quite possible that the people had this in mind when they looked at Jesus.  They saw Him (rightly) as the King who would bring judgment upon those who had done evil in the sight of the Lord, and against the people of God.
  2. They laid out palm branches for 2 reasons. (1) It was a celebration of the Lord.  In the instructions for the Feast of Tabernacles, the people are commanded to take palm branches to form their temporary tents (lean-to’s).  This was not just for shelter, but as a way to rejoice before the Lord (Lev 23:40).  We also see palm branches used to celebrate God in the book of Revelation, when the great multitude from the Tribulation give glory of God the Father and Jesus (Rev 7:9) (2) It was a celebration or proclamation of a military victory.  Seen in the inter-testamental historical account of the Maccabees. (1 Mac 13:50, 2 Mac 10:6-7, 14:3-4.)  These are not inspired Scriptural accounts, but they are historical resources that show us what was going on culturally among the Jews.  Less than two hundred years prior to Jesus, the Jews were celebrating victory over oppressing armies with palm branches.  Culturally speaking, this wasn’t only an homage to God, this was a celebration of a coming military victory and freedom for the Jews.  This was close to the equivalent of the Jews waving a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag in front of the Romans.  They were welcoming their king, and anticipating their coming freedom.
  3. God may have had His plan for Jesus, but the people had an agenda of their own.  God had promised to send them their King, and they were looking for Him.  What they didn’t expect was that the mission of the King was vastly different than what they had planned.  The Old Testament was very clear that the Messiah was coming to rule in power and victory over all the nations.  It was clear that the Messiah would proclaim peace and the nation of Israel would experience a time of prosperity like they had never known.  (Some of that is shown in the prophecies we’ve seen today.)  At the same time, the Old Testament is also very clear that the Messiah needed to suffer for the sins of the people.  These two ideas were so different that some Jewish scholars thought that there might be two different Messiahs spoken of in Scripture: a Messiah ben Joseph (who would suffer as Joseph did when he was sold by his brothers into slavery), and a Messiah ben David (who would reign as king in glory).  In time, the Jewish scholars thought that they as a people had suffered enough, so they must be the fulfillment of the “ben Joseph” prophecies, and that they would only await the Messiah who would reign in glory.  What’s the problem with all of that?  It doesn’t fulfill God’s prophecy to the letter.  God’s prophecy is always fulfilled exactly – and their expectations didn’t do it.
    1. It’s no wonder they turned so quickly upon Jesus when He was arrested.  In the 5 days Jesus had been in Jerusalem, He did nothing to upset the Romans, and the only people He seemed to condemn were the Jewish priests and ruling class.  He wasn’t the king they were looking for.  He didn’t meet their own expectations and agenda, and thus they turned on Jesus at the first opportunity.
    2. Do we impose our own agenda upon God?  We have our plan for our own lives, and when things don’t go as we want, we tend to get upset and mad with God.  The problem isn’t God; it’s what we imposed upon Him with our own agenda.  The problem is a missed expectation.  We expected one thing, and we experienced something else.  Part of surrendering ourselves to Jesus in following Him as Lord is to allow Him to set His own agenda for our lives.  We surrendered our will to His when we asked Him to save us.  We need to trust that God knows what He’s doing.
  4. Why the Jews thought this way regarding the Messiah is easy to understand.  People like a victory.  People like the finished glory.  It’s easy to skip over the prophecies of suffering and go directly to the glory.  Yet one had to precede the other.  If Jesus had not suffered for the sins of humanity, there would be no humans left to recognize Him as the reigning King of glory!  Our sin had to be dealt with.  Our sin had rebelled against the holy goodness and justice of God, and that had to be made right before we would be allowed any relationship with Him.  We could not pay the price for our sin (no one could, be they Jew or Gentile).  The price for our sin is death – to experience the fullness of the wrath of God.  We could never fully pay our debt, thus we would never be allowed into the Kingdom of God as His people.  So our King paid our debt for us.  He suffered on our behalf in order that we could become His people.  If Jesus had not suffered first, none of us would be able to enjoy Him in His glory.

9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!”

  1. Multitudes surrounded Jesus.  Vs. 8 had described “a very great multitude,” and vs. 9 describes multitudes (plural) in front of Jesus, as well as behind Jesus. We’re not given an exact count, but this was a lot of people!  Many of them had already been on the road traveling to Jerusalem for Passover. They were already on a pilgrimage to the city, and when they encountered Jesus along the way, they were excited to join with Him.  Others seemingly followed Him all the way down from Galilee.  The crowds were growing rapidly, and the time seemed to be at hand.  Even the Passover celebration contributed to the urgency.  Remember what Passover was: a remembrance of how God freed the Hebrews out of Egyptian slavery.  God had miraculously intervened on behalf of His people (through a deliverer in Moses) to destroy their enemy and give them their freedom.  Now Jesus is on the scene – He has shown Himself to be empowered by God – He’s demonstrated that He teaches with the authority of God – and He’s coming from Mt. Olives to an occupied Jerusalem on the eve of Passover.  No doubt there was a heightened expectation of freedom from oppression.  The people thought they were on the verge of something great happening – and they were!  (Just not according to their expectations.)
  2. "Hosanna" = "save now". Seen as an appeal to the kings during times of trouble, and a prayer in the Psalms…specifically in the psalm they referenced as Jesus rode into the city. Psalm 118:25–26, "(25) Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity. (26) Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We have blessed you from the house of the LORD." [] Psalm 118 was typically sung during the Passover, and they naturally apply the lyrics directly to the One they see as their Deliverer.  Of course at this point, the people don’t seem to be appealing to Jesus so much as extolling Him.  Over time, the phrase seems to have become more of a declaration of praise.  Both ideas are extremely appropriate to Jesus.  We do appeal to Him to save, and He is most definitely worthy of praise!
  3. Proclaiming Jesus to be the king.  As with the formerly blind Bartimaeus, they describe Jesus as the Son of David. This is a direct identification of Jesus as the Messiah.  He is not a simple descendent of David; He is the royal son of David with the right to rule as King over all Israel.  In this, they were absolutely correct.
  4. The humble king is deserving of the highest praise! He is worthy of all the praise of which we can give.  He has created us (praise Him!) – He has suffered for us (praise Him!) – He has saved us (praise Him!) – He loves us (praise Him!) – He’s called us and forgiven us (praise Him!) – He has promised us a future (praise Him!).  Give unto your King the praise that He so richly deserves!
    1. So often we forget to give Him praise.  We pray to Him in earnest – we ask for His mercies – we ask for His healing…and when He gives it, we forget to say “thank you.”  Or the time we spend time at His feet in simple adoration is so rare.  Every day is a new opportunity to give God praise.  TODAY is a day in which you can give Jesus praise…give it to Him!

10 And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” 11 So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”

  1. The commotion surrounding Jesus caught the attention of the entire city.  No doubt it was have been a spectacle!  Can you imagine gazing over the wall of Jerusalem to see a massive throng of people surrounding this Man on a tiny young donkey?  Everyone is shouting praises and singing psalms – people are throwing branches in the air & their clothes on the ground.  Jerusalem was usually hectic around Passover, but this would have been totally unique – something unseen for a few hundred years was taking place.
  2. The interesting thing was that Jerusalem didn’t really understand what was going on or who was at the center of it all.  The gospel of Matthew doesn’t show Jesus in Jerusalem much, though the other gospel accounts (particularly John) show Jesus in the city occasionally for the feasts.  He had healed a paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda, and had stopped a woman from being stoned to death for adultery near the Mount of Olives. The question, then, doesn’t seem to be asking for identification.  The people of Jerusalem likely knew who Jesus was.  It seems to be one of incredulity.  As in, "Who is this guy, that He can be center of all this attention?  He wasn’t raised in Jerusalem.  He didn’t go to an Ivy League school or sit at the feet of famous Jerusalem rabbis.  Why is He worth all of this attention?"  Jesus had been in Jerusalem, but although He had healed some people there, most of His major miracles had not been done in the city. In fact, most of them had not been performed around Jerusalem at all, but north in the Galilean region.  The closest major miracle would have been a few miles away in Bethany when Lazarus was raised from the dead, some time prior.  Jesus did not go to the major metropolitan area to prove Himself.  Most of what He did was for the "unimportant" people…the back water areas.  Is this really where the Messiah could originate?  Yes!  Jesus came to seek and save the lost, wherever they may be found.  He came not only for those who were seen as the elite, but especially for those who were forgotten by the rest of the world.  He came to save foolish things (like us!). 
  3. The multitudes do not hesitate to claim Jesus as their own.  He is from “Nazareth of Galilee.”  That may have been viewed as unimportant by people of Jerusalem (“fly-over country”), but it was important enough to Jesus to have been His primary base of ministry.
  4. Interestingly, they call Him a prophet; not the Messiah.  Obviously they had demonstrated they thought He was the king…were they shrinking back from it now?  Not necessarily.  They could have simply been justifying the reason for His praise as the Messiah King.  He was known all over the land as a great prophet, and so they repeat that here to the citizens of Jerusalem.  There’s also another possibility in that they could be referring to a specific prophet uniquely associated with Messianic expectation: the coming prophet who would be like Moses.  Deuteronomy 18:15–16, "(15) The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet. (16) This is what you requested of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the LORD my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.”" []  The people had been so terrified of the voice of God at Mt. Sinai (Horeb) when He gave the 10 Commandments, that they specifically requested that Moses always intercede on their behalf.  The promise is that there would be another intercessor – another prophet – who would always speak as God to the people.  There had been rumors before that Jesus was the fulfillment of that role, and the people might be referencing it again here.  And Jesus DOES fulfill that role.  He perfectly speaks to us the word of God because He is God, and He is our constant intercessor and the one mediator between God and man.  Again, the people seem to get the general idea right, but they have the wrong timing in mind because of a false expectation.

Jesus showed Himself to be the humble King.  The crowd saw Him as the Messianic King.  The crowd saw Him as a prophet unique from all others.  All of that was absolutely correct!  So what happened to change everything in the next coming days?  The missed expectation of the multitudes.  The multitudes wanted the Messiah, but they wanted the Messiah in their time and in their way.  They wanted the Messiah according to their agenda.  They wanted their Messiah, but they wanted to be the ones calling the shots.  They wanted their King, but they wanted the King to follow their own wants and desires.  And of course it doesn’t work that way.

God had His own agenda at work.  Jesus came to just the right place, at just the right time, in just the right way, to just the right people.  Jesus was perfectly in control of everything that was taking place – which underlines the fact that Jesus was perfectly in control of everything that would yet take place that would lead Him to the cross.  He went there willingly & by His own design – specifically to fulfill the eternal plan of God, and out of love and compassion for you.

If Jesus perfectly fulfilled that, what else could possibly be outside of His plan and design?  We fret about the state of our culture and nation, but Jesus is not taken by surprise by it.  We worry about when the end will be, but God has things all in His time.  We fret about all sorts of things, thinking that they are spinning out of control – but in reality our God is sovereign.  There is not a single thing happening around the world in general or in our lives specifically of which God is not aware, and He does not have ability to handle.  Oh how the people of God need to trust our God!  How we need to remember the plan of God at work, and (1) trust that Jesus will see things through, and (2) be willing to surrender our will unto Him and His will.  Instead of seeing our plans and prerogatives done (and being frustrated along the way), we need to see God’s will done – take Him up on His grand invitation in grace to participate in His kingdom work, and watch Him work along the way.

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