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THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY

Luke 19:28-19:44
Key Verse: 19:38

Thank God for our Lord Jesus’ command of trust, “Put this money to work until I come back.” However the world is changed, we may personally believe Jesus’ second coming and strive to be trustworthy in his given task, looking forward to the Lord’s recognition, “Well done, my good servant!” Today’s passage is about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. How he entered Jerusalem and how people responded show who he is, particularly what kind of king he is. Also, Luke’s description of this event includes Jesus’ lament over the city.

First, the Lord needs it (28-34). Look at verse 28. “After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.” Here is the last indication of Jerusalem in his journey to this city, which stared after his Galilean ministry as described in 9:51, “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” In the record of this journey Luke mentioned Jerusalem meaningfully 3 more times before this final description: in 13:22, “Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem”, in 17:11, “Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee”, and 18:31, “Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.” Now Jesus came to the vicinity of Jerusalem. Look at verse 29. “As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives...” Bethany is a village about 3.2 km (2 miles) from Jerusalem situated on the eastern slope of Mt. Olivet, and Bethphage—exact location unknown-has by tradition been located northwest of Bethany.

What did Jesus do at this point? He sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a col tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here” (30). What an unexpected and difficult command! Until now Jesus never gave such a command, which is unethical and against their moral standard. At the command they may have thought, “Is this not robbery?” We believe that so far they had no such a record of wrongdoing in their life career. Undoubtedly they were known as pretty nice guys. How could they do such a theft? Moreover, as decent disciples of Jesus? Yet, at this difficult and seemingly impossible command, Jesus added one more saying, “If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.’” Here is the key of how to carry out such a command.

Jesus did not say, “I need it”, instead, he said, “The Lord needs it.” In Luke’s gospel, Jesus said in 6:5, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Now Jesus said, “The Lord needs it”, unambiguously revealing and identifying himself as Lord. It was right before Jesus entry into Jerusalem. When Jesus gave the command, he wanted the two disciples to indeed know that Jesus is the Lord, the Lord over everything. He wanted them to experience his Lordship, the Lordship of Christ Jesus. And since the Lord needs it, the motive of the command is absolutely good and unquestionable, though not understandable to the disciples at this point. Up until now in his entire journey he always walked. There was no record of Jesus’ riding on anything. Now he needed a colt in entering Jerusalem. It is to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, revealing himself as God’s promised king.

Then how did the disciples respond to the Lord’s command? Look at verse 32. “Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them.” So far, so good. Then in verse 33, “As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’” At this their hearts may have sunk, saying to themselves, “O my God!” Jesus said, “If anyone asks you…” But the “if” became real. And not just one person but several people, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” At this moment they could have said, “Sorry” and run away. But they remembered the password Jesus taught them and replied confidently, “The Lord needs it.” Then everything worked all right. Surely, the disciples deeply learned the Lordship of Christ Jesus.

Obedience to the Lord is an essential quality as a disciple of Jesus. We remember in Luke 5, Simon Peter’s obedience to Jesus’ command, “Put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch.” The command was an unreasonable, hard command to Simon Peter, who was tired and downcast with no fish caught through all night work and who was better than anyone else about catching fish. But amazingly he said, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets” (Lk 5:5). Then he could make a great catch of fish and so experience the Lordship, the power of the Lord even over the fish of the sea. Thank God for Ian’s personal obedience to the Lord, visiting U of T campus three times a week to invite students to Bible study. It is not easy, but he keeps doing it with a personal direction to get one Bible student and be a shepherd for one soul. May he keep the password Jesus taught, “The Lord needs it” and experience the Lordship of Christ. We believe that Jesus is the Lord over all U of T students. In Luke’s gospel from chapter 1 the Lordship is well demonstrated. As God was going to send his Son into this world, he needed a virgin of whom the holy one would be born. When God chose Mary, she did not say, “No, thank you”, but “Yes, Lord” although she was engaged to a man named Joseph. She made a beautiful confession of faith, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said” (Lk 1:38). She was obedient and sacrificial, entrusting her marriage matter completely into the hand of the Lord. Sinners are disobedient, but the disciples of Jesus are to learn obedience beyond our human reason and limited thoughts.

Also, we cannot overlook the owners of the colt. Just over a colt there were several owners with co-ownership. It may point to their poverty. Yet, they were willing to let the Lord use it, recognizing Jesus’ real ownership of the colt. In this way they yielded to the Lordship of Christ Jesus. Acknowledging Jesus’ lordship means admitting his lordship over all I have. Whenever he claims his ownership over my time, money and even life, we may know that it is the very time to practice the lordship of Christ Jesus and experience the grace and power of the Lord over all.

Second, Jesus, the king of peace (35-40). Look at verse 35. “They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.” We can imagine that when they were sent to untie the colt, their hearts were heavy with many worries. But now when they brought the colt, which no one has ever ridden, to Jesus, they must have had peace and joy in their hearts. This was the fruit of obedience to their Master. Then they threw their cloaks on the colt as the expression of their deference for the Lord. And here is an interesting description that they put Jesus on it, surely lifting him up together. This is a unique expression that in this way they touched Jesus, the Son of God. 1 John 1:1 says, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”

In verse 36, “As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.” Here we can picture Jesus riding on a colt, a donkey’s colt. He was close to the people and let them peaceful. Yet, the people showed their homage to him by spreading their cloaks on the road.

Look at verse 37. “When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:” Here three things are very specific in Luke’s gospel in this event. The place was where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, that is the western slope, with Jerusalem in full view, and the people burst into joyful praises to God, not just shouting, and they were the whole crowd of disciples. They did so for all the miracles they had seen. Then the contents of the disciples praising God at this place is significant. And praising God is one of the important themes in Luke’s gospel.

Look at verse 38a. “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” This is a quotation from Ps. 118:26, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.” All the four gospels include this line in their report of the triumphal entry. It is a quotation from one of the Hallel Psalms sung during Passover. It is also one of the Psalms most often referred to in the New Testament (The others are Psalm 2, 22, 69, 89, and 110). It is a distinctly Messianic Psalm, (which speaks about the stone which the builders rejected and which became the cornerstone). In Luke’s gospel, first of all they praised God that Jesus is the king. When God was going to send his Son into this world through the virgin Mary, the angel Gabriel told her who the baby Jesus would be: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” When Jesus made entry into Jerusalem, riding on a colt, this itself showed that Jesus is the king who was prophesied in Zechariah 9:9 and was different from worldly kings who would enter their capital cities riding on a stallion displaying their power and splendour. Now the disciples’ praising verbally proclaimed that Jesus is the king, adding, “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” He is particularly the king of peace. When Jesus was born, a great company of the heavenly hosts praised God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.” “On earth peace to men” is possible because of peace in heaven. In heaven God is at peace with the human race. It is because God is to be reconciled to the humankind through his Son Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus entered Jerusalem to die on the cross for man’s sins so as to make a reconciliation between God and man. In this way he would destroy the hostility of Satan. Satan came into the peaceful Garden of Eden and tempted the first man to sin against God and thus he brought the history of enmity and hostility. But Jesus would defeat this power and fortress of Satan by crushing the head of Satan through his death and resurrection, and thus bring the history of peace. For this triumph Jesus entered Jerusalem. This is the reason Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is called the triumphal entry. Through his victory over sin and Satan it is to be shown that Jesus is the king of peace.

It is noticeable that peace is mentioned at the time of Jesus’ birth and the time of his entry into Jerusalem, respectively “on earth peace to men” and “peace in heaven.” So is “glory in the highest.” Glory means revealing. At both times God’s love is revealed through his Son Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, which brought peace to men. In this way the Son is to glorify God. So what a fitting praise at the time of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, “peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” as well as at the time of his birth, “Glory in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.”

At that time the wold was the Roman world. Rome with the slogan “Pox Romana” promised peace to all those living in Roman Empire. In some way it was true. Roman military power protected the people from the invasion of barbarians. Last Wednesday was Remembrance Day and there were celebrations in Ottawa and other cities in this country. It was to commemorate the cease of the First World War and remember known and unknown soldiers’ death of sacrifice at the wars. The ending of the war at the trumpet sound signified peace to the world. The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem "In Flanders Fields" written by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I; their brilliant red colour became a symbol for the blood spilled in the war. That’s a beautiful story. Even peace from war comes through sacrifice and victory. But on the previous night before his crucifixion Jesus said to his disciples in the upper room dialogue, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” This peace Jesus gives is inner peace that comes from peace with God. This peace is irrelevant to world situations and outer circumstances and human conditions. God wants us to enjoy and keep this peace because this peace is a costly peace, given through his Son’s sacrifice and shed blood in his victor over Satan.

Recently I was much troubled in the thought of strong secular humanism and humanistic ideas and worldly living that have been creeping into churches. I wondered how we can keep gospel faith and gospel ministry and raise disciples of Jesus in this kind of environment, and worried about how future God’s ministry would go. Various kinds of human thoughts came into my mind and I was troubled time and again. I expected external things, something outside of me to be changed. I was wrong. I was not ruled by the king of peace. Regardless of outward circumstances, even in troublesome situations Jesus wants me to have his peace and enjoy his peace, his costly peace. It is through deep trust in him, not through compromising or any other methods. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” When we trust in our king of peace, our mind is steadfast and he will keep us in perfect peace. In our time many people are under stress of various kinds and so they are stressed and distressed. In that there are many unknown diseases. Yet, our king of peace wants us to have his peace even amid stresses by trusting in him. There is a hymn song that goes, “…O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer.” Trust and prayer go together. So Philippians 4:6,7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” May the king of peace rule our hearts and minds as we trust in him and come to him in prayer.

Look at verse 39. “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’” To the Pharisees’ minds the disciples’ praise to God in loud voices was not fitting at this time and would bring trouble to the nation. But as we thought of, to Jesus it was very fitting even if the disciples would have not deeply understood what they had spoken in praise. Until now Jesus told people and even demons to keep silent about his true identity. But now it is the very time for Jesus to be revealed as the king to the whole world. So he replied, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Hab 2:11). Here, “stones” can refer to the nature, the whole creation.

Look at verse 41. “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.’” Jerusalem was the city of God and supposed to be the city of peace, Salem (cf. Heb 7:2). But when the people rejected God and God’s purpose for them, Jerusalem became the fortress of Satan. The people were blind to see the promised Messiah, the king of peace, and his peace were hidden from their eyes. Then Jesus predicts the destruction of the city. Look at verses 43 and 44. “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.” The destruction of the city was inevitable. Jesus described a typical siege when he spoke of the bank the enemies would cast up (as a protection for themselves and a base from which they could launch their attacks) and of the city as being completely surrounded (Isa 29:3). This was exactly what Titus brought AD 70. So thorough was his destruction that even the great temple fell. This could be the sign of their eternal destiny, which make Jesus wept over the city. The repetition of you (eleven times in two verses) makes it all very personal. Here we see the destiny of all those who reject the king Jesus.

Thank Jesus who is the Lord and King. He is the Lord of all and the King of peace. May we deeply recognize his lordship and let the King of peace rule our hearts.

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