The King Arrives
Devotion written by Simon Clay:
Read: Matthew 21:1-11
It was not the first time Jesus had visited Jerusalem. He had attended Feasts at other times but He knew that this time was different. The time was right to make a statement.
Jesus asked a couple of His disciples to get a donkey for Him so that He could ride the final part of their journey. Once they had brought it, with its mother, He set off on the final ride up to the city.
Hundreds of years beforehand the prophet Zechariah had prophesied that these events would take place. He said that a king would arrive in Zion (Jerusalem) and would arrive riding on a young donkey. When placed alongside the image of a king arriving by force to drive out the enemy and restore the city to its rightful owners, the choice of vehicle is strange. Surely a war horse would be more appropriate? Or maybe a chariot?
But this is where it’s important to read the whole of Zechariah’s prophecy (see Zech 9:9-17). He said that the king who would arrive is ‘righteous and having salvation’ (v9) and he will usher in peace: the chariots, war horses and weapons would be removed (v10); peace for the nations would follow (v10); His rule would extend well beyond the city borders (v10); prisoners would be freed (v11) and restoration would be granted to many (v12). What is described is no ordinary coronation march, but Zechariah declared that the sign of the true coming king and his glorious kingdom would be his arrival – on a donkey.
Jesus arrives in Jerusalem
The (very large (v8)) crowd stood at the sides of the road on the way up to Jerusalem welcomed the travelling pilgrims arriving for the Passover. They may not have realised it fully but their welcome pointed to the fact that Jesus is greater. He is called the ‘Son of David’, something He’d previously been called by a blind man in Jericho. The crowd also praise God with words from Psalm 118: ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord’.
And Jerusalem is stirred. People begin to ask who He is. Despite His explicit move to draw attention to Zechariah’s prophecy, the answer to the question is given by the crowd as, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee’ (v11). This statement is 100% true. But this donkey-rider is so much more! And His full identity is yet to be fully revealed. The next week will reveal more.
So, events are building to a climax. The king who has been promised long before and anticipated for generations has come. The King has arrived.
* * * * * * * * *
Ride on, ride on in majesty!
Hark! All the tribes hosanna! Cry;
O Saviour meek, pursue Thy road
With palms and scattered garments strowed.
Ride on, ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die;
O Christ, Thy triumphs now begin
O’er captive death and conquered sin.
Henry Hart Milman (1791-1868)
• The crowd welcomed Jesus by waving tree branches, laying their cloaks on the road and shouting out praise, some of which were direct quotes from the Psalms. What is the equivalent welcome you want to give Jesus?
• If someone asked you the question, ‘Who is this?’ about Jesus, how would you describe Him? Why not spend some time speaking out who He is in worship?
Hosanna (Hillsong United)
Family worship idea
The crowd was noisy and enthusiastic in their welcoming of Jesus. You could march around waving banners, singing and calling out praise – ‘Hosanna’ – to Jesus
Children’s activity idea
Create a donkey. You will need two wooden clothes pegs and an outline picture of a donkey. The donkey can be coloured in and cut out. The pegs can be decorated and then attached as legs to the body of the donkey. Here is an example.