Matt 21:1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany 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.’”[a]
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[b] to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[c]
“Hosanna[d] 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.”
In today’s text, we take a step back, just before Jesus enters Jerusalem for the last time. Here, he fulfills scripture as spoken through the prophet Zechariah (Zech 9:9) . We see as Christ nears Jerusalem, he passes through Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, where He instructs His disciples to go into the village and get a donkey and her colt. It is there that a crowd begins to form as they know of Jesus from Lazarus, as Bethany is where He had raised Lazarus from the dead.
As the crowds are on their way to Jerusalem, we see them begin to join Jesus and His disciples in their journey for the Passover feast. As they proceed down the Mount of Olives toward Jerusalem, the disciples shout praises to God for all the miracles they had seen (Luke 19:37).
The crowds are now proceeding and following Jesus while shouting praises to God. Christ is referred to as the “Son of David”. However, as they enter Jerusalem, the whole city asked, “Who is this?” and the crowd answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee (Matt 21: 8-11 paraphrased).”
I find it very interesting that today’s text tells us that the crowd calls Jesus the “Son of David” when speaking to Him directly but refers to Jesus as a prophet from Nazareth when speaking to city folk. Why is this?
Perhaps, it is because they feared repercussion from the Roman rulers occupying Jerusalem at the time. Perhaps, it is because they feared rejection by their fellow Jews and family members in the city if they referred to Jesus as the “Son of David”. That particular reference meant “King David’s Son who will reign forever”. Only one of David’s descendants would reign forever and that prophetic reference was meant for the Messiah.
While the crowds were awestruck by Jesus’ miracles, I would say, they were terrified of the Roman occupation and the reigning rulers of the day. For most, they were hoping that Jesus would enter Jerusalem as a conquering king and save them from the Roman rule. Instead, Jesus wanted to save them from themselves, from their sin, restore their relationship with God and bring God’s Kingdom to them! And He has done the same thing for us! Did they recognize it? For the most part, no. That’s why, less than a week later, the same crowds that praised God, let their “Hosannas” turn to shouts of “Crucify Him!!”
How about you? Are you waiting for a Conquering King today? Is there something in your life that you are just waiting for Jesus to fix, change, heal or get rid of ? There is nothing wrong with that. But for this week, this day, I would encourage you to focus on the Son of David who knowingly went to Jerusalem, to willingly suffer and take on sin for us so that we might live in and inherit the Kingdom of God. It is there that we find love, hope and strength in Jesus.
My Lord, Son of David, Blessed are You who comes in the name of the Lord! We give you the Highest praise, Lord Jesus, and we thank You for all You have done. As we enter Holy Week, Help us to focus on You and Your divine work and what it means for the world. We love You Lord! Amen and Amen!