The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary & meditation 
"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord"


Scripture: Matthew 21:1-17

1 And when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Beth'phage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them  to me. 3 If any one says anything to you, you shall say, `The Lord has need of them,' and he will send them immediately." 4 This took place to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 "Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass." 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7 they brought the ass and the colt, and put their garments on them, and he sat thereon. 8 Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, "Who is this?" 11 And the crowds said, "This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee."

12 And Jesus entered the temple of God and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the  money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, "It is written, `My house shall be called a house of prayer'; but you make it a den of robbers." 14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, "Hosanna to the  Son of David!" they were indignant; 16 and they said to him, "Do you hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes; have you never read, `Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast brought perfect praise'?" 17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.

Meditation: Does the King of glory find a welcome entry in your heart and home? Jesus went to Jerusalem knowing full well what awaited him -- betrayal, rejection, and crucifixion.  The people of Jerusalem, however, were ready to hail him as their Messianic King!  Little did they know what it would cost this king to usher in his kingdom.   Jesus' entry into Jerusalem astride a colt was a direct fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy of Zechariah (9:9): Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion.  Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem.  Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, and riding on an ass and upon a colt the foal of an ass.  The colt was a sign of peace.  Jesus enters Jerusalem in meekness and humility, as the Messianic King who brings victory and peace to his people. That victory and peace would be secured in the cross and resurrection which would take place in a matter of days at the time of Passover.

Augustine, the great 5th century church father, comments on the significance of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem:  "The master of humility is Christ who humbled himself and became obedient even to death, even the death of the cross.  Thus he does not lose his divinity when he teaches us humility.  ..What great thing was it to the king of the ages to become the king of humanity?  For Christ was not the king of Israel so that he might exact a tax or equip an army with weaponry and visibly vanquish an enemy.  He was the king of Israel in that he rules minds, in that he gives counsel for eternity, in that he leads into the kingdom of heaven for those who believe, hope, and love.  It is a condescension, not an advancement for one who is the Son of God, equal to the Father, the Word through whom all things were made, to become king of Israel.  It is an indication of pity, not an increase in power." [Tractates on John 51.3-4]

 Psalm 24 is another prophetic passage which echoes this triumphal procession of the King of glory:  Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors!  that the King of glory may come in.  Jesus Christ came to bring us the kingdom of God.  He is the true King who offers peace, joy, and everlasting life for those who accept his kingship.  Do you give the Lord Jesus full reign in your heart and in your home? And do your walls echo with the praise of his glory?

Jesus’ dramatic cleansing of the temple was seen by his disciples as a prophetic sign of God’s action.  The temple was understood as the dwelling place of God among his people.  When God delivered his people from slavery in Egypt, he brought them through the sea, and finally to Mount Sinai where he made a covenant with them and gave them a new way of life embodied in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17).  God gave Moses instruction for worship and for making the Tabernacle, or tent of meeting, which was later replaced by the temple. The New Testament tells us that these “serve as a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary” – God’s Temple in heaven (Hebrews 8:5).

Jesus referred to the temple as his Father’s house which was being made into “house of trade” (John 2:16) or “den of robbers” (Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17). That is why he used physical force to expel the money-chargers.  The prophecy of Malachi foretold the coming of the Lord unexpectedly to his Temple to “purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord” (Malachi3:1-4).  His act of judgment in the temple is meant to be a prophetic sign and warning to the people that God takes our worship very seriously. In this incident we see Jesus' startling and swift action in cleansing the temple of those who were using it to exploit the worshipers of God. The money changers took advantage of the poor and forced them to pay many times more than was right— in the house of the Lord no less! Their robbery of the poor was not only dishonoring to God but unjust toward their neighbor.  Jesus’ cleansing of the temple is also a prophetic sign of what he wants to do with each of us.  He ever seeks to cleanse us of sin and make us living temples of his Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). Do you thirst for holiness?

"Lord Jesus, be the King and Ruler of my heart, mind, life, and home.  May my life reflect your meekness and humility that you may be honored as the King of glory!" 


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 (c) 2002 Don Schwager