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Matthew 21:1-11 2BC

Matthew 21:1-11
Lesson for March 25-26, 2017
Scott Susong


The Coronation of Queen Victoria took place on June 28, 1838. It took five hours and involved two changes of dress for the queen. It was a lavish affair. The ceremony cost 6.41 million British pounds by today's values. The value of her crown was 112,800 pounds in 1838 - 70 million pounds or 85 million dollars by today's standards. [Wikipedia article]

The coronation of Jesus Christ as Israel's long-awaited King was radically different from that of Queen Victoria. It involved Jesus riding not in a golden carriage like Queen Victoria, but on the colt of a donkey. His processional consisted of thousands of pilgrims from Galilee and Judea who waved palm branches and threw garments down in front of Him. It was not lavish but a humble coronation.
This was a coronation like no other because Jesus was and is a King like no other!


This passage is the account of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Sunday, the beginning of Passover week, which became Passion week - because, on Friday, Jesus was crucified. In the Christian calendar, it is called Palm Sunday. This event is also a continuation of the subject of His identity. The topic of His identity started with the question Jesus asked His disciples back in 16:13, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" In verse 15 He followed with another question, "Who do you say that I am?" The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is a formal presentation of Himself to the leaders of Israel as the Messiah.

R.V.G. Tasker, in his commentary on Matthew, states, "Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time in a manner which showed that He was none other than the Messiah, the Son of David, who was coming to Sion [Zion] to claim the city as His own."[page 197]

William Barclay, in his commentary on Matthew, states, "Jesus was here offering Himself to the people, at a time when Jerusalem was surging with Jews from all over the country and from all over the world, as the Anointed One of God."[Volume 2, page 265]

     I. THE PREPARATION, verses 1-7

Jesus and His disciples traveled 17 miles from Jericho to Bethany along the Roman road climbing about 3000 feet in elevation. Sidebar: This is why the NT says that people go "up" to Jerusalem. It is referring to elevation, not direction. We say to go "up," meaning to go north. The little village of Bethphage ("house of figs") was slightly farther west than Bethany on the SE slope of the Mount of Olives. [see Dr. Constable's Notes on Matthew page 332]
Verses 1-3 - Notice, Jesus knew exactly the location of these animals and the disposition of their owners.

Dr. John MacArthur, in his commentary on the Bible, said about Jesus in this passage, "Such detailed foreknowledge reveals His divine omniscience."(page 1163)

This is the only record of Jesus ever riding an animal. He was preparing to recreate the return of King David to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 19-20), and the entrance of Solomon for his enthronement as King (1 Kings 1:38-40). A king riding either a donkey or a mule meant that he came in peace. If a king rode a horse, usually a white stallion, it indicated that he came as a conquering warrior.[see Constable, page 332] In this case, Jesus rode on the colt of a donkey to emphasize humility.

In verses 4-5, Matthew refers to Isaiah and Zechariah, two OT prophets who prophesied regarding the coming Messiah. Their prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus.
Dr. C.I. Scofield, in The Scofield Reference Bible, states, "Here was the King's final and official offer of Himself, in accord with the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9." (footnote on page 1027)

One last time, Jesus was offering Himself to Israel as the Messiah. Modern skeptics say that Jesus never wanted any of this to happen - that He somehow got caught up in the festival atmosphere, which led to the frenzied crowd claiming Him as their King, resulting in His eventual crucifixion. Jesus was confused, they say, and He was not sure what was happening to Him or why. It all happened because the crowd got out of control. What nonsense - nothing could be further from the truth. All of His careful preparation shows that Jesus was in complete control.

     II. THE PRESENTATION, verses 8-9

According to several commentators, during Passover Jerusalem would swell in population by at least 10-fold. Some estimate that there were as many as two million people in & around Jerusalem during Passover. So, the entry by Jesus, with a parade-like atmosphere, would have been seen by tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people. In those days, it was common for people to recognize royalty by spreading their garments on the road ahead of the monarch - see 2 Kings 9:13. It was their version of what we would call "rolling out the red carpet." In the same way, people would throw palm branches on the ground ahead of the procession. The waving of palm branches signified a joyous occasion. Hence the name
"Palm Sunday."

The text indicates that there were people who walked ahead of Jesus as well as others who followed behind Him. Most likely there were two groups: (1) A large following who had come with Him from Galilee and (2) Those in Jerusalem anticipating His arrival. So, there were two streams - Galileans and Judeans who met in a mass of humanity on this day in Jerusalem, with Jesus Christ as the center of attention - what a scene!
Their words of praise came from Psalm 118:25-26, which the Jews used at Passover as part of "the great Hallel," one of the series of Psalms 113-118. "Hosanna" means "Save us now!" "Son of David" is the messianic title stressing the kingly role that Messiah would play. "Hosanna In the highest" probably meant "Glory to God in the highest."
What was happening? The people were praising God for sending the Messiah and they were crying out to Him for deliverance. [this paragraph is based on Dr. Constable's Notes, pages 334-335]

William Hendricksen, in his commentary on Matthew, states, "Psalm 118 is distinctly Messianic."(page 766)

A.T. Robertson, in his Word Pictures in the New Testament, says, "They were proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah, and He let them do it." (Vol. 1, page 167)

POINT: All of the components of Jesus' triumphal entry demonstrate that He was and is the Messiah!
However, there was a problem. For the most part, the crowd knew who He was, and they knew their Old Testament. But, they were looking for a Messiah who would deliver them from the bondage of Rome - a political or a military Messiah. At this time, they believed that Jesus was this type of messiah. However, that was not His mission. He came not to deliver us from political or economic oppression, but to "seek and save that which was lost." (Luke 18:10) That is, to save us from our sins and to reconcile us to God.

APPLICATION: People today want to make Jesus into a messiah who will meet all of their needs and solve all of their problems. They expect that if they believe in Him, get Baptized and join the church, that they will from then on enjoy a life of health and wealth. But, those things are never promised because it is not who He is nor why He came. Jesus is not a genie in a bottle waiting to pop out and grant our every wish. We must not lay our selfish expectations on Jesus rather than worshipping and following the Jesus of the Scriptures.

     III. THE REACTION, verses 10-11

The entire city was stirred up and shaken over this scene and asked the natural question: "Who is this?" In other words, "who is causing all of this commotion?"

Tasker, in his commentary on Matthew, states, "Mixed feelings of surprise, indignation, expectation and contempt prompted the question Who is this?" (page 198)

There was a mixed bag of reactions to His triumphal entry because there was confusion as to who He was and why He came. Jesus was no stranger to Jerusalem, but no one expected Him to come riding into the city in the midst of a throng of people singing His praises and declaring Him to be their Messiah! There was no welcome from the official representatives of the nation because "officially" they had already rejected Him as Messiah. In fact, as far back as Matthew 12:14, the religious leaders had convened to discuss how they might destroy Him.
In this crowd, you had the same types of individuals that always seemed to follow Jesus. Let's identify and describe them...

     1. The committed. This group included Jesus' Disciples. But, even those closest to Him, who believed in Him, at times had questions about who He was. In fact, it did not become crystal clear to them until they were filled with the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts.
     2. The convicted. They were attracted by His message, aware of their need for a Savior, but wanted to hear more. They were seekers.
     3. The confused. This group could not get their head around who Jesus was and what His mission was. They needed to hear more.
     4. The curious. These had seen some of Jesus' miracles and wanted to see what He would do next. They followed Him primarily for the entertainment value and to see if He would provide them with another meal, as in the feeding of the 4000 (Matthew 15:32-39).
     5. The counterfeit. This group appeared to be faithful followers; they used the right words; they blended into the religious crowd, but were not genuine disciples of Jesus Christ. Judas Iscariot was in this group.
     6. The curmudgeons. This group consisted mostly of religious leaders who wanted to discredit Jesus and eventually see Him put to death. The Scribes and Pharisees headed up this crowd.

APPLICATION QUESTION: With which of these six groups do you most identify? Follow-up question: are you moving closer to or farther away from full belief and commitment to Jesus Christ? Warning: Jesus does not leave us the option of neutrality. You cannot straddle the fence, which is an uncomfortable place to be, by the way! No decision IS a decision. So, if you are in any group other that the committed, don't put off a decision any longer. Eventually, the window of opportunity will close, and you will find yourself in a place where you do not want to be.


The coronation of Jesus in Matthew 21 was a coronation of humility because, in the first coming of Jesus, He came as the Suffering Servant. The triumphal entry occurred during Passover because Jesus was and is our Passover (see 1 Corinthians 5:7)! He is "...the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"(John 1:29) Four days after the triumphal entry, most of those same people who cried "Hosanna!" cried, "away with Him, crucify Him!"

Jesus Christ will come a second time, not as Suffering Servant but as the Judge. The real coronation of Jesus is recorded in Revelation 5:11-14. At that time, all of heaven and earth will bow down and worship Him!