Matthew 21:1-11 (Part 2) – What Kind of Messiah Are You Looking For? – The Real Jesus Or The Jesus of Your Own Making

Posted: February 22, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 21:1-11

Jesus Rides into Jerusalem on a Donkey

 

Opposite of what you would expect. A king riding on a donkey, a work animal, not glamorous. There was a story of a newly appointed minister arriving at his new church one Sunday morning. He intentionally dressed as if he were a homeless bum. You know the story. He was shunned by almost everyone there at the church. He was looked upon as if he had a disease or something. He was even asked by the ushers to sit in the back of the church so that no one would be distracted by his appearance. He was not made to feel welcome at all. When the chairman of the pastoral search committee got up and introduced the church’s new pastor the homeless man, or so they thought, got up and walked to the pulpit and began removing his make-up and then began to preach about judging others and about how we should love the least among us. The crowd was embarrassed beyond all embarrassment for their behavior. Many cried for the way they had perceived the preacher when they thought he was a dirty homeless man. That illustration is a powerful one about perceptions and reality. That is what I think you see here in this passage, Jesus was doing the unexpected. He was making a statement of what kind of King He was:

 

 

21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

 

4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

 

5 “Say to Daughter Zion,

   ‘See, your king comes to you,

gentle and riding on a donkey,

   and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

 

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

 

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

 

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

 

 

Because of the centuries of occupation by various foreign nations, Israel groaned for the freedom that they once enjoyed as an independent nation. They longed for the glory that was Israel as a nation back in the days of David and his successor son, Solomon. After Solomon, Israel descended into a divided nation that made it weak and easier to conquer by foreign powers. First it was the Assyrians conquering the northern kingdom and then the Babylonians conquered the southern kingdom. Then it was the Persians who conquered Babylon and took over the reign over the southern kingdom. Next, it was Alexander the Great and the Greek conquest. Subsequent to Alexander’s death, his kingdom was divided and splintered among his generals and Israel was ruled from the Alexandria by one of Alexander’s generals. The splintered Greek kingdom was then conquered by the Roman Empire. Now, Israel was subject to a capital city even farther away in Rome. They yearned to be free from occupation. They groaned under the taxation of foreign powers. They felt like puppets on the world stage. Israel’s location made it and important piece of land as the crossroads to Africa and Asia and Europe. The land that Israel sat on will forever be important in the history of the earth for that very reason. But Israel didn’t care about that. They just wanted their old glory days back. They were tired of being a puppet kingdom in the stage of world politics. They just wanted and longed for the days when they controlled their own destiny. Thus, the Messiah promised in the Old Testament scriptures began to morph into this victorious military leader. He was to come and reset history. He was to appear on the horizon and reestablish Israel as an independent nation. He was to come and squash the Roman army. He was to come to make the world right again according to what the people desired. They wanted a military Messiah. They wanted a real, human kingdom of what humans want. That wanted to be on top again and stick their tongues out at their oppressors. Kind of like the little brother telling everyone that is about to beat him up that his big brother will be here in a minute. When the big brother shows up, the little brother is standing behind him making faces at the other kids as the big brother sets things right for him. This was the Messiah that they wanted. This was not however, the Messiah of Scripture.

 

The Messiah of the Old Testament scriptures was to come to be exactly what Jesus was. He came to be the Savior of His people not from the occupying armies of other countries but rather to save His people from their own sins. He came to be the once-and-final sacrifice for all our sins. He came to live a sinless life and die as a sacrifice for our sins. He came to take the punishment that we deserve for our sins. He came be an atoning sacrifice that makes us right with our Father in heaven. He came to reconcile us to God. All we must do is believe in our hearts that He is the Son of God. He also came to give us victory over sin and death through His resurrection that gives us hope of eternal life. All must do is believe that He was risen from the dead. This is the real Messiah. This is not some conquering hero. The Messiah was prophesied by Zachariah to come riding into Jerusalem on a colt of a donkey. Isaiah tells us that the Messiah was to be an humble servant of Israel that would suffer for the iniquities of His people and thus make Israel right with God once again. This was the real Messiah. Jesus riding in on the donkey’s colt was his confirmation that this was the king He would be. Not some falsely desired conquering hero of the moment but rather the suffering servant who came to solve an eternal problem rather than some limited local political problem. Jesus came to be the ransom for our debt that has us in the shackles of the prison of hell. We had no way to pay this debt ourselves. We are imperfect beings and with the commission of our first sin we exclude ourselves from ever living in the presence of God in heaven. Done deal. Not to mention that we sin daily. We cannot exist with our impurities of sin in the presence of the perfect God. We needed a solution to our sin stains. Jesus is the solution. He died as the sinless sacrifice so that his perfection can be imputed to us when we accept Him as our Savior. That what He came to save, our souls. He did not come to be something that Israel had made Him up to be. He came to be what the Scriptures said. He came to be what God had planned all along in his redemptive plan for mankind.

 

How often do we make Jesus out to be something other than what He really is? We make him out to be our friend that will accept whatever we do and forgive us. We believe that Jesus will allow us to live whatever way we want to (even when it is in antithesis to Scripture) and that He will forgive us continually even when we live unrepentant lives. We also believe that Jesus does not see our hypocrisies. We believe that Jesus turns the other way when we live one way and then act all glorified at church on Sundays. We sometimes believe Jesus is a self-help guru. If we just take Jesus’ philosophies and put them into practice that we will be better persons. Sometimes, we believe Jesus was this really cool rabbi that worked to change the status quo. He was a radical rabbi that went up against the establishment. Many of do not see that Jesus as the only way to the Father and that the only way to the Father is believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that only through repentance of our sins that Jesus grants us His grace. Jesus is not just one of the roads to heaven. He is the only road. He also requires us to repent of our sins and seek Him as our Savior. If we do not, He will judge us. Yes, Jesus will judge us. If we reject Him as God in the flesh, if we reject Him as the only way that we can be made right with God (not some scale where our good deeds are weighed against our bad deeds), then yes He will judge us. Jesus is the only way that we can be made right with God and it is only through His grace that we are. Not the Jesus that most of us have made Him out to be.

 

He is no investment banker where he pays you a positive return for doing good things. He does not guarantee your financial blessings if you follow Him. He does not promise you the perfect life, according to our standards, if you follow Him. We must follow Him because we are lost in hell without Him. We must love Him for what He has done for us. We must love Him because we need Him. We must love Him because God cared enough about us to save us from ourselves. We must love Him for saving us! Not because He will pay us back for following Him. If he grants us earthly blessings, then that is HIS prerogative not something we demand or have a right to receive. We love Him because He is God in the flesh. We love Him because He saved us. We love Him because He is our Savior. He is our Lord. He is our King. He is to whom we owe our eternity.

 

Jesus, not the kind of Jesus we make Him out to be often. Jesus was not the king the king that the Jews expected. He is the humble king arriving on a donkey. He came to save our eternity not to save us from earthly discomfort. What kind of Messiah are you looking for?

 

Amen and Amen.

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