Summary: Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of God’s promises. Riding on a colt He comes as God’s humble Prophet-King
Dr Warren Wiersbe, once minister of the Moody Church in Chicago and the Director of Back to the Bible organisation based in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA, in his With the Word Commentary, divides Luke 19 into three main sections: The day of salvation, the day of evaluation and the day of visitation. Without leaving the impression that I necessarily agree with Dr Wiersbe in all he writes, I believe this division is helpful to understand the structure of chapter 19 of the Gospel of Luke.
The day of salvation (1–10). Verse 10 is illustrated in the experience of Zacchaeus: Jesus came to him, sought him, and saved him.
The day of evaluation (11–27). This deals with the parable of the minas. Those who received the minas are called to appear the king to give account.
The day of visitation (28–43). What a tragedy that the Jewish nation did not know their own King when He came to them! Our Lord wept, for He saw the terrible judgment that was coming to the city and the people.
So, the first part of chapter 19 leads into the section we will look at tonight.
Two opposite reactions
In the preceding parables of chapter 19 there are two responses to the ministry of Jesus: First, there was the crowd around Zacchaeus, the ostensibly “righteous” people, those who saw themselves as the earners of grace, so different from the sinner tax-collector. They muttered and grumbled about the fact the Jesus actually dined with a sinner. And then of course there was Zacchaeus who expected nothing but got it all. He was counted as a real son of Abraham.
Then there were those who didn’t want Jesus to be their King, whilst others considered it as a great privilege to be counted as workers in the kingdom of the King.
This sets the framework for the third group of people of the verses between Luke 19:28-44. This group is also marked by two opposite reactions to the ministry of Jesus. But most important is the action of Jesus. So, let us now first turn to the Prophet-King, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
I deliberately chose this title for Jesus. Not only is Christ the fulfilment of the prophecies of the Old Testament; He is also the prophet who prophesied about God’s judgment upon those who reject Him as prophet and King.
His Kingdom is not of this world, and He does not meet the expectations of those who expected a political king. He is the servant-king who chose not a brilliant white stallion to enter the city. Coming on a donkey was a sign of peace. If Jesus had ridden in on a horse, it would have signified a conquering king coming to take over. Jesus was coming not to take, but to give his life in order to make peace between men and God.
It certainly wasn’t your typical arrival of a new king that day as Jesus approached Jerusalem. Bethphage and Bethany are about a mile apart, on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, which sits next to Jerusalem. Bethany, of course, was the home town to Mary, Martha and Lazarus. There our Master wept over the effect of sin as he raised his friend from the dead.
So Jesus sends two of His disciples to get the transport ready. They are sent to take a young donkey. The Lord told them what to say. Studying the text one gets the impression that the owners of the colt were also disciples of Jesus. The colt was not bought, it was only loosed. They not argue the point. The phrase “The Lord needs it” and their reaction to it, gives the impression that this family understood that the time of their Lord had come.
So here is Jesus, the king of Kings, riding in on a colt. It had never been ridden before. The Law stated you couldn’t use an ordinary animal for sacred purposes. Also it spoke of the way Jesus approached His city.
Let us quote from Zechariah 9:9:
"Say to the daughter of Zion, ’Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’"
He is the King! He is a humble King! He therefore receives praises as his disciples draped their cloaks on the colt; they then sat Him on the colt. They also spread their cloaks on the road. He accepts their praise even as the disciples now started quoting from the Holy Scriptures to ascribe glory to Him.
Can I just take you for one moment to the last book of the Bible, Revelation 19:9-10. God revealed to John an amazing array of visions. Then, after the vision of the wedding feast of the Lamb, the angel followed with a benediction: “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb.” And he added: “These are the true words of God.” One cannot blame John to at that point falling on his knees to worship this magnificent creature with his extraordinary message. But the angel, as it were, grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and picked him up, exhorting him: “I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit (essence) of prophecy.” Don’t worship me; only God may be worshipped!