“Behold, Your King Is Coming to You!”
(Matthew 21:1-9 – Palm Sunday – May 28, 2021)
Matthew 21:1-9 – 1Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. 3And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” 4All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: 5“Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ” 6So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. 7They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. 8And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!”
Dear Redeemed in the name of Christ, our Savior-King:
About 300 years before Jesus entered Jerusalem, there was a similar event at the gates of that city. A great king, commanding a formidable army, approached the gates of Jerusalem. This king had already conquered many cities and laid waste many lands, so the people of Jerusalem were in distress. Debate surrounds the events of that day; but according to the historian Josephus, the Jewish high priest led a peaceful procession out of the city to meet this conquering king. They informed him that they would not resist. All they asked was that he would show kindness and consider them his loyal subjects. He responded favorably and entered the city in peaceful procession. That King was Alexander the Great.
What a contrast there was between that worldly king, who came to Jerusalem on a warhorse, surrounded by fierce warriors; and Jesus, who entered the holy city on a beast of burden, surrounded by a joyful crowd of followers who shouted: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!” (vs. 9). The Jews had reason to fear Alexander, who came as a conqueror. But what reason would they have to fear Jesus, in whom the prophecy of Zechariah was being fulfilled: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey'” (vs. 5)? Jesus came, not as a fierce warrior-king threatening war and destruction, but as the humble Savior-King, bringing God’s peace and salvation to sinners.
Even today, this heaven-sent King comes to us, bringing the peace of His forgiveness and the joy of His salvation to us through His Word and Sacraments. Every land, city, and home where His Gospel enters human hearts to create faith – there is Jerusalem, there is the daughter of Zion, and the promise to her is being fulfilled. Let us consider this joyful Palm Sunday message that says: “Behold, Your King Is Coming to You!” In our text, we see 1) What kind of King comes to us, and 2) What is the purpose of His coming.
1) What kind of King comes to us
What a comfort it is to know that this same Jesus, who once came to Jerusalem, comes to us today as our King. Since His ascension into heaven, He sits at the right hand of His Father with all authority over heaven and earth. Yet, as He promised, He remains with His people always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20). This is for our comfort. For as the King of kings and Lord of lords, He rules over all things for our good. He is greater than Alexander the Great and all earthly rulers. He is a King under whose rule we need not fear, nor will we lack anything. Just consider what kind of King comes to us.
First, He is omniscient; He knows all things. Our text indicates this, as we read: “Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me'” (vs. 1-2). As Jesus was coming toward Jerusalem, He had not recently passed through this area. Yet, He who knows all things knew exactly where that donkey would be tied, along with her young colt, as if He Himself was present to see them.
Behold, your King comes to you, an omniscient King. This is for our comfort. He knows everything in the past, the present, and the future. He knows all our cares and troubles. People may not understand our trials and suffering, but our King understands all that we have gone through, and all that we are going through. He understands our burdens. He knows our prayer before a word is on our tongue (Psalm 139:2), and He knows how He is going to answer for our good.
At the same time, He is almighty. It shows in His instructions to the disciples: “And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.’ All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: ‘Tell the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.”‘ So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them” (vs. 3-7). When the owners of the donkeys did ask the disciples why they were taking them, the disciples simply told them what Jesus said, and they let them go (Mark 11:5-6). So the King borrowed the donkey and its colt from a stranger. From a distance, He moved the owner’s heart to do just what He wanted him to do. Here we see that, by His almighty power, Jesus was working out all the arrangements. He would fulfill the Scriptures as the Messiah-King who was to come, entering the gates of Jerusalem in just the manner Zechariah had prophesied.
Behold, your King comes to you, an almighty King. Again, this is for our comfort. He is powerful to work all things in this world according to His will, and all for our benefit! Do we have some need in life? He is our powerful Provider. He will give us what is best, at the right time. Are we are experiencing health issues that medicine cannot help? He is our powerful Healer. He can make our sickness disappear if that is His will, or He will give us the strength we need to cope. Are we troubled by enemies who threaten us? He is our powerful Deliverer. In the end, He will defend our righteous cause and foil their evil plans. Ultimately, in all things Jesus will use His Almighty power to bring us peace from all enemies, perfect health, and satisfaction of every need in His heavenly Kingdom.
Finally, our Gospel shows us that He is a humble King. Again, as it says: “Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey” (vs. 5). How troubling it would be if heaven’s King did not come to us in such humble form. For since He is omniscient, He knows all our sins; and since He is almighty, He could punish us with the wrath our sins deserve in eternal death and damnation. But instead, His heart is filled with kindness and tender mercy.
Behold, your King comes to you, a humble King. Again, this is for our comfort. Are we troubled because of our sins? Does our conscience tell us that our guilt is too great to be forgiven, and that God must be angry with us? Jesus comes to assure us that He has forgiven all our sins, and He brings us peace with God. And if there is any trouble or distress in our life, Jesus comes to us as one who has walked this earth, humble and lowly, feeling our needs and sorrows. He comes to our side with His gracious invitation: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). And one day in heaven, our gentle and loving King Himself will wipe away every tear from our eyes and give us perfect rest (Revelation 7:17).
Behold, this is what kind of King comes to us. He is an omniscient King, knowing all our needs. He is an almighty King, powerful to work all things for our good. He is a humble King, full of compassion for even the greatest sinner.
2) What is the purpose of His coming
This leads us to see the purpose of His coming – to bring the joy of His salvation to sinners. We read: “And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!” Hosanna in the highest!'” (vs. 8-9). The Hosanna means, literally: “Save, I pray!” It was a plea for God to help or deliver His people, and it became an acclamation of praise to Him who saves. What a joyful procession it was that day, as Jesus entered Jerusalem. The people welcomed Him with glad Hosannas as the Messianic King who was to come, in whose name God had promised to bring salvation to His people.
Here we see the purpose of the Lord’s coming to us, even today. It is not just to take away our temporal fears and sorrows, as our omniscient and almighty King. It is also to fill our hearts with joy and gladness in the eternal salvation He came to win for us.
At that time, Jesus came to Jerusalem to die for the sins of the world, for our sins. Just a few days later, He was taken before the Sanhedrin and then Pontius Pilate for trial. He was condemned to death, and nailed to the accursed tree where He paid for all our sins. His body was laid in the tomb. Then on the third day, He rose from the dead. So Jesus came to Jerusalem to pay the ransom price to redeem our souls from sin, death, and hell. He worked out the forgiveness of all our sins and won eternal life for each and every one of us.
And as heaven’s King once rode into Jerusalem humbly, on a beast of burden; so today, He comes to us in the humble forms of His Word and Sacraments. Yet, He comes with His almighty power to bring us His salvation. His Gospel is the power of God unto our salvation, creating saving faith in our hearts (Romans 1:16). In Baptism, His powerful Word with the water cleanses away our sins and presents us pure and holy before God (Ephesians 5:26). In the Lord’s Supper, our King is present to give us His true Body and Blood, once sacrificed on the cross, for the forgiveness of our sins (Matthew 26:26-28). So our King comes to fill our hearts with the joy of His salvation and eternal life.
Behold, your King is coming to you! He does not come as a fierce warrior-king, bringing war and destruction; He comes as the humble Savior-King, bringing God’s peace and salvation to sinners. Knowing what kind of King He is and His purpose in coming, we can join that joyful crowd in singing His praises, and we can serve Him with a glad heart. And when Jesus comes again to take us into His heavenly Kingdom, we shall join the great multitude of saints – all who have washed their robes and made them white in His blood (Revelation 7:9-14); and we shall sing with perfect joy: “‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!” (v. 9).
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be forevermore. Amen.