Summary: Which Jesus do you want to meet – gentle and riding on a donkey, or carrying a sword and riding on a white horse?
We’ve come to a crucial crossroads in our journey through the book of Matthew. Everything that Jesus has taught and done has been leading to this point. You could say that the events we read about today are the beginning of the end that leads to the beginning.
In cosmic terms – the Lamb of God, slain before the foundations of the earth is coming to lay down His life to give life to all. He is coming to His own – those He created, as King of Kings – though riding on a donkey. It is fitting, then, that this event be surrounded by worship, praise, and adoration. Despite the things that would soon happen, the plotting, the betrayals, the accusations, the turning away, and the beating and torture – this was a time to recognize that something special is taking place – like the point in a movie where the hero is about to undertake the final quest to save the girl or the town or the nation – our hero is riding into town.
How he does it, and how the people react teaches us about how we react to Jesus riding into our lives – about worship, and about what it is we get out of our relationship with God.
21:1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage 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, tell him 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 the Daughter of Zion, ’See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’"
This is from Isaiah 62:11, and Zechariah 9:9. It’s important because Jesus is taking off the wraps on who He is – we’ll talk more about that in a moment. But notice how He comes. The people expected a conquering king as their Messiah – but their own Scriptures told them that their king would not come this way – but gentle, riding on a donkey.
Anyone who has ridden a donkey knows you don’t ride in to conquer a city on one. Never-the-less – this was a sign of a king – but one coming in peace.
Now there will be a time when Jesus again rides onto the scene at Jerusalem. We find that in Revelation Chapter 19.
11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Obviously from the text – this coming of Jesus will be as a conquering king – to conquer all those who oppose Him. No one might be afraid of a guy riding into Jerusalem on a donkey – and we shouldn’t be frightened of Jesus either as he approaches our life.
He describes Himself as "gentle and humble at heart" someone who gives "rest." None of us should be frightened of Him – He is a welcoming Savior who wants to be our king if we will let Him.
BUT – if you reject Him – then you should be afraid – very afraid. Make no mistake – Jesus IS the powerful person riding on the white horse coming to conquer and tread the winepress of the fury of God Almighty. He may be wrapped in humility in this scene, but it is the same person.
– You’re going to meet one Jesus or the other – The question is which Jesus it going to be?
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.
Isn’t it amazing that Matthew records this so matter-of-factly? We read in the other gospels that someone challenged the disciples from stealing what amounted to a car – but with a word "the Master has need of it" the owner let them go. It’s possible that Jesus spoke to the owner beforehand – or it’s possible that He was so well known that saying "The Master has need of it" was enough – but isn’t it neat that Jesus took the time to make sure no one was put out. He is the king of the universe after all – He didn’t have to take their feelings into consideration. But that’s Jesus – He is a gentleman. Are we?