Who Is This?

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.” Matthew 21:10-11

It was the beginning of Passover Week and there were plenty of people in Jerusalem for it.

Then a strange entourage enters the city and it got the people curious, “Who is this? What’s going on?”

They identified Jesus by his name, title, and dwelling location.

Recall in John 1:21, the people asked John if he was the prophet, the coming Messiah. This is one of the references to Jesus being the one who was foretold.

Was this the first time the people in Jerusalem had heard about Jesus? We have the good fortune of being able to send photographs and videos of someone instantaneously. They had no idea what He looked like even if they had heard of Him.

Based on what follows, though, He would leave a lasting impression on them.

That’s actually a fitting metaphor for what Jesus does in people’s lives. He leaves a lasting impression.

People love Him; they hate Him, but they usually don’t ignore Him. 

And as His ambassadors, how are we doing?

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He Knows Their Names

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 to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Matthew 21:6-9

Those who traveled with Jesus threw out palm branches and put cloaks on the road and on the donkey for Jesus to sit on.

Here is a treatment of that text: 

First of all, palm branches were often used in the celebration of victory and in King David’s time, they were used to honor royalty. This fact of the history of palm branches makes a perfect connection to the true identity of Jesus as the King of Kings.

Not only that, but palm branches also represent Jesus being worthy as the High Priest for all who believe. A palm tree takes 30 years to bear fruit and a man could not become a High Priest until he was 30 years old. The ministry of Jesus began when he was 30 years old.

Palm branches point to Jesus being King and High Priest but there was something else that was laid before Jesus that day that carries great meaning as well.

Peoples “cloaks” or other interpretations say “garments” were also spread out on the road for the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. This was more than just an act of honor, this was also an acknowledgment and declaration that Jesus was the King of Kings, the promised Messiah.

The word garment here is the “tallit” or “prayer shawl”, which was a seamless garment with four corners, with a tassel attached to each of the four corners to remind the Jewish people of all the commands of God.

Upon its collar, the Hebrew letters spell, “Lord of lords and King of kings” as a symbolic reminder of the promised Messiah. By laying their “tallit’s” down, the people were acknowledging Jesus as God’s promised Messiah. They were declaring that Jesus was the one worthy to be called the “Lord of lords and King of kings”.

These followers were honoring Jesus according to texts in the Old Testament. They were proclaiming that He was the Messiah.

This is an important moment because He’s entering Jerusalem, the City of David. The symbolism of this moment is profound. From here on out, the events begin to turn against the Messiah, though to a degree they had started when He began His ministry. More leaders will begin to take notice of Jesus. They’ll question him as they’ve done before but they begin plotting in earnest against His life.

Jesus’ followers at that time knew what they had to do. They would probably be questioned in secret for what they did (with cloaks and palm branches). The leaders would have the power to turn their lives upside down just to get more information on the man who was disrupting their power play.

But they did it anyhow. These people have obviously been forgotten now and no one knows their names. How many were there? No one knows because the authors didn’t record that detail.

Still, these men and women made a sacrifice by standing up for the Savior when little was known about Him.

Throughout history, men and women have taken bold stances on behalf of their Savior and bad things have happened as a result. Millions have been imprisoned and millions have died defending Him. You may hear a name every now and again, but each of those you hear about represents thousands of nameless martyrs.

Jesus knows their names. Every single one of them.

He also remembers those who are in prison right this very minute.

Throughout the day today, pray for one or two of those prisoners. Pray for their families. You don’t need to know their names. Just know that they are facing great physical, mental, and spiritual persecution, as are their families.

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Victorious Living

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, 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.'” Matthew 21:1-5

The two disciples probably went on the mission to get the donkey and had no idea of its significance. They probably chocked it up to being an odd and out-of-the-blue request.

Even when this Old Testament Scripture was written, it was an unusual passage because it was not what the Jews depicted the Messiah coming to town riding. Any other religion in the world would have had him come blazing into Jerusalem on a horse with his sword flourishing about.

But we’re talking about the gentle Lamb of God riding on a young donkey. There’s nothing majestic or triumphant about that, that is, until you understand that He came as a meek servant.

He wouldn’t have it any other way.

As you consider these words today, consider our approach to victorious living.

Is it humble and sacrificial?
Does it put others first?
Does it love the unlovely?

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

6 Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8

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Jesus Saw What the Crowds Couldn’t See

29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”

34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. Matthew 20:29-34

Why did the crowd rebuke those asking for mercy? What was the crowd’s “end” goal here?

What did Jesus see in these blind men that the crowd couldn’t see? Ironic, isn’t it?

The blind men were persistent enough because they knew that Jesus would have compassion on them.

The crowd passed them by and looked the other way. They essentially blew off the blind men.

Even though the crowds followed Him everywhere, he sought out the individual to minister life to.

Jesus saw faith in these men. They might not have known how He could help, only that He could.

We pass by these people all the time: the immigrant who is still struggling to learn English, the construction man holding up a SLOW sign, the clerk at the grocery store. 

We don’t know their stories, but they all have one. It may not be as extreme as the blind men, but it could be worse.

Jesus had compassion on these people, on the overlooked people of the world. So should we, and it doesn’t take much to notice them.

We really just have to open our eyes. A smile and a word of encouragement will go a long way.

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Servant Leadership Isn’t a New Phrase

24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:24-28

Even with a perfect man amongst them, the disciples got angry and frustrated at James and John.

But Jesus’ point was that hierarchy in the kingdom of heaven is meaningless, except for the Trinity.

The Second Person of that Trinity was standing in front of them right now, and even He became their servant, taking on human flesh.

In other words, the kingdom is about service, even as leaders – especially as leaders.

A children’s song from days gone by sums it up:

If you want to be great in God’s kingdom,
Learn to be the servant of all.

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