The Presentation of the King  – Matthew 21:1-11

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Faith Bible Church, NY

September 11, 1994

The Presentation of the King

Matthew 21:1-11


After our long study of the book of Mark, we now finally come to our examination of the final week of the life of Jesus Christ. Throughout our study we have seen Matthew demonstrate over and over again that Jesus is the promised Messiah. Over and over again Matthew points out all the prophecies that He fulfilled. His genealogy tracing back to David, being born of a virgin, being born in Bethlehem, going to Egypt and then to Nazareth. Being confirmed by the Father and the Holy Spirit at His baptism and His later transfiguration. He had the correct message and proved His deity over and over again by demonstrating complete power over all disease, sickness and other physical afflictions, including death. He had absolute authority over both the natural and supernatural. He even had authority to forgive sins. Jesus fulfilled all of the Mosaic Law and taught with authority the meaning of that Law. Now we will find more evidence, some of it astonishing, that Jesus is the Messiah.


Jesus has had his face set toward Jerusalem for some time now, and He knows that when He does arrive there He will suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priest, and scribes who will finally condemn Him to death. He will then be turned over to the Romans who will afflict Him, humiliate Him, and then crucify Him. But Jesus also knew that on the third day He would be raised from the dead.

Matthew does not tell us about all the events that occurred after healing the two blind men at Jericho. We learn more from the other gospel accounts. Luke 19 adds that Jesus had not just passed through Jericho, but had spent a day there with Zaccheus. This chief tax-collector, though small in height, captured Jesus attention, resulting in his repentance and salvation. Jesus left Jericho the next day, and John 12:1 tells us that Jesus spent the Sabbath (Saturday) with His friends Martha, Mary, and Lazarus in the village of Bethany, just east of Jerusalem. That evening Jesus and the disciples ate at the home of Simon the leper. This was the same evening that Mary anointed Jesus feet with costly perfume, being another reminder of His impending death and burial (John 12:2-11).

The next day, which would be Sunday, we find that a great multitude of Jews had found out that Jesus was in Bethany and had come to see not just Him, but also that they might also see Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead not all that long before. The Chief priests and Pharisees had previously given orders that if anyone saw Jesus they should report it to them because they wanted to seize Jesus. Now, with all the interest in Lazarus, they begin to plot on how to put him to death as well (John 11:57; 12:10).

According to John’s (12:12) account Jesus enters Jerusalem on the next day, or the second day after Sabbath which is our Monday. We will see some more evidence for this being Monday later in our study today. But this is where we pick up Matthew’s account. And when they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you…”

The road from Bethany approaches Jerusalem from the east. They had now come to a place called, “Bethphage”, meaning “House of unripe figs.” This hamlet does not exist today, nor is there any evidence for where it existed except incidental accounts in stories where it is mentioned. From what we know from the gospel accounts, it was located between Bethany and Jerusalem on the eastern side of the Mount of Olives. As Jesus comes to this little village He knows that Jerusalem would be the next point He would reach, He now must make sure that He entrance into Jerusalem is done properly. As part of His preparation to enter Jerusalem, Jesus sends two of His disciples into that village to do an important errand for Him.


His instructions to them are in verse 2. “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them, and bring them to Me. And if anyone says something to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them, and immediately he will send them.'”

It is possible that Jesus had made arrangements to get the donkey and its foal previously, possibly with one of the people that had come to see Him in Bethany the day before. It is also just as possible that this is Jesus’ omniscience being displayed once again. In either case, the emphasis is not on Him getting the two animals, but on why He did so. Jesus would not enter Jerusalem as just a pilgrim or just a rabbi as He had done in past. Jesus would this time enter into Jerusalem in a manner that would declare to all who He was.

Notice that in the instructions to the disciples that Jesus refers to Himself in a different manner than He has before. Many people referred to Him as Lord. Some out of simple respect, and some out of some sense of understanding that He might be the Messiah, and therefore God in human flesh. But Jesus did not refer to Himself in quite this manner before. If Jesus’ instructions to the disciples would have followed the normal mode making a reference to Himself, He would have told the disciples something like this, “If anyone says something to you, you tell them that I have need of them.” We still speak the same way today generally referring to ourselves as “I.” But here Jesus tells them to specifically say, “The Lord has need of them.” Jesus wanted to make sure that they used His proper title. The Lord, the one who is ruler over all, the master, has need of these two animals. There response was not to be a request in hopes that the owners of the animals would grant it, it was a statement of fact that the owners of the animals needed to submit too.

We should keep that in mind in our own lives. Jesus does not need to request us, plead with us, or beg us to obey Him. And we gain no merit by agreeing to abide by His commands. All Jesus needs to do is state what He wants from us and it is our obligation to obey. We are under compulsion to submit to all that He says simply because of His position. He is Lord.

Verse 6 tells that the disciples did exactly what Jesus told them to do. The account in Luke tells us that the owners did indeed stop them and ask them what they were doing, and the disciples responded just as Jesus told them and the owners immediately consented.

In Verses 4 & 5 Matthew tells us exactly why Jesus needed the donkey and its foal.

Prophecies Fulfilled (4-7)

Now this took place that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold your king is coming to you, Gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'”

This prophecy occurs in Zechariah 9:9. The “daughter of Zion” is a reference to Jerusalem, often called Zion because that is the name of the city’s highest and most important hill, Mount Zion. There were many prophecies concerning the Messiah and this one noted the manner that He would come as king. Jesus would ride into Jerusalem in a humble manner, on the colt of a donkey. This was not the manner expected either. A conquering king would come riding on a war stead or at least a carefully groomed white stallion, and that will be the manner of Jesus’ return. Rev. 19 tells us that Jesus will return on a white horse riding at the head of armies of heaven. But for this entrance into Jerusalem, Jesus did not come as the leader of a victorious army, but as a humble servant who was yet the king.

I like what of my commentaries said about this. “He who makes his entry unarmed with unarmed followers on a peaceful animal must either be already acknowledged as ruler, or he must aim at dominion in such a manner as excludes all force and political power.” That certainly fits Jesus. He was already ruler, though not acknowledged as such, and the manner by which He would gain dominion would not be by force of arms or by political power. Jesus came not in wealth, but poverty; not in grandeur, but modesty; not as judge, but as savior. As the passover lamb.

This is another reason that I believe that Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem occurred not on Sunday, but on Monday. Jesus was to be the perfect “passover” sacrifice. The Mosaic Law required that the sacrificial lamb for Passover be selected on the tenth day of the first month (Nisan) and then sacrificed on the 14th of that month. In the year that Jesus was crucified the 14th of the month was on a Friday. The 10th of the month would have been that Monday. If Jesus has come into Jerusalem on that Monday, then He would have been fulfilling the symbolism of Passover to the smallest detail, being received by the Jewish nation on the 10th of Nisan. This was the same way each Jewish family was receiving into their home the sacrificial lamb. Jesus was coming into Jerusalem as the “lamb of God who would takes away the sins of the world.” He was the perfect Passover sacrifice.

But there is another reason for believing this occurred on Monday, the 10th of Nisan. Matthew does not mention this prophecy here, but Daniel had prophesied when Messiah the Prince would be declared. Daniel 9:25 says, “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.” The next verses tells us that after the sixty-two weeks, the Messiah would be cut off.

The weeks referred to were weeks of years, or a total of 7 + 62 = 69 weeks of years, or 69 X 7 = 483 years. So 483 years after the beginning of this prophecy would be the arrival of the Messiah. This can be worked out to the number of days. We have 365 days/year in our calendar, but the calendar Daniel used only had 360 days/year.

483 years X 360 days/year = 173,880 days.

Nehemiah 2:1-8 records the beginning of the prophecy when on Nisan 1 of King Artaxerxes 20th year (March 5, 44 B.C.) he decreed that Nehemiah could return to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. The prophecy was fulfilled 173,880 days later which works out to be Nisan 10 (Monday, March 30), A.D. 33. Jesus fulfilled the prophecy to the very day.

The disciples obeyed Jesus and did what He asked. The owners of the donkey and its colt submitted to Jesus authority. Verse 7 of our text tells us that the disciples brought “the donkey and the colt, and laid on them their garments, on which He sat.” In doing all this the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 and of Daniel 9:25 would be fulfilled. None of this was by chance, but orchestrated precisely by the sovereign God.

I might add a footnote here in keeping what I said about the critics of the Bible last week. Here we again find that Matthew’s account differs from Mark and Luke’s. (See: Sight for the Blind) They only mention the colt where Matthew mentions both the colt and its mother. Critics have charged that this proves Matthew was wrong. It always amazes me that they attack Matthew, who was present. He knew how many animals were there. Mark and Luke do not exclude their being two animals, they just only mention one. And it only makes sense that the colt’s mother would be present and it also for them to take it along to keep the colt calm, because as Mark and Luke both mention, this animal had never been ridden before.

The disciples have returned from their errand with the two animals. They then take their coats off and lay them on the colt and Jesus mounts it and they continue on their way to Jerusalem.


Jesus’ reception as king is immediate. The crowds already gathered see the disciples lay their coats on the donkey, and they begin to respond in like manner. Verse 8,9 And most of the multitude spread their garments in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees, and spreading them in the road. And the multitudes going before Him and those who followed after were crying out, saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes it the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.”

Remember that large crowds would gather to Jerusalem for Passover. Estimates based on the number of sacrifices recorded project that there could easily have been two million people in the area on Passover. While there are not that many yet, there are a lot. John’s account indicates at least three sources for the large crowd that had gathered around Jesus. First, there was a multitude of people that had come to Jerusalem for the feast. Many of them were from Galilee and they went out to meet Jesus when they heard that He was coming (Jn 12:12). Another crowd was made up of people from Bethany and friends of Lazarus and his family, these were people who had been present when Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead (Jn 12:17). Another large gathering of people were coming out from Jerusalem to meet Jesus because they had heard about him raising Lazarus from the dead (Jn 12:18). Imagine for just a moment the commotion all of this would have caused. Jerusalem is in quite a state of excitement already just because of the preparations being made for Passover, then you hear and then see this huge crowd of people coming over the Mt. of Olives and down the road through the valley to enter Jerusalem through the East gate. The people are cutting down the palm branches and putting their coats down in front of Jesus as a sign of honor. At the same time everyone is shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes it the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” What a sight, what a wonderful time that would have been to have been present.

What the people were shouting was fitting to the occasion and in fact fulfillment of prophecy as well. Most of what they were saying was taken from Psalm 118 which is part of the Hallel, Psalms 113-118, which were psalms of praise for the Lord’s deliverance, and were often sung at Passover. In addition, “Hosanna” is an exclamatory word meaning, “save now,” or “give thy salvation!” And as I pointed out last week, the phrase, “Son of David,” is a direct reference to Jesus being the Messiah. What they were shouting out was exactly what was being done for them. Salvation was coming from the Messiah. Jesus was coming as Lord. The one who was from the highest heaven was bringing to them salvation.

Did the people understand all that they were saying? Sadly, they did not. They were still looking for a king who would save them from Roman oppression, not someone who would bring them salvation from sin’s oppression. What they were shouting was true, but they neither understood it or believed it.

In the midst of this huge crowd of people all shouting “Hosanna, Son of David,”, Jesus looked down on Jerusalem from the top of the Mount of Olives and Luke tells that He wept because of the unbelief of the people saying, If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and will level you to the ground and your children with you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.

Verses 10 and 11 show us that though they were proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah, the one who would save them, they did not really believe what they were proclaiming.

WHO IS THE KING? (VS. 10,11)

And when He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” And the multitudes were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

The city certainly must have been stirred by the procession that accompanied Jesus into Jerusalem. What an opportunity for those that knew something about Jesus to tell those who were asking! Remember that most of those in the crowd praising Jesus and shouting, “Hosanna,” were either from Galilee where Jesus had done the majority of His miracles, or they were the ones present when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. They had seen so much evidence demonstrating who Jesus was, they had heard Him teach in a way no mere man could teach, they had only minutes before been shouting before Him, “Hosanna, Son of David.” Yet, instead of boldly proclaiming Him the Son of David, the Messiah, the promised one, it simply became, “the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” Jesus was a prophet, but He was so much more than that, and they failed to recognize it.

The king was there. The prophecies were fulfilled. Messiah had come and they had even shouted that out themselves, yet they still failed to discern who He was.

There is not much different today. People say all sorts of things about Jesus, true things, but they do not really believe it.

Some call Jesus a great teacher or philosopher, yet they do not study what He taught nor follow His teachings or philosophy. He was a great example, but they do not follow it. To speak of Jesus in a positive way is still popular in our culture, especially at Christmas time. How many of the wonderful Christmas carols are sung for personal profit by secular musicians who do not know Him?

How many people claim Jesus as their savior, yet they are still busy striving to save themselves through what ever means by which they think they can earn it. Their piety and good works are not done out of a response of love for what Jesus has done for them, but out of heart still burden and trying to earn God’s favor. We can not earn His favor, it comes by His grace Titus 3:5,6“Not by works which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

Other people claim to love Jesus, yet they refuse to give up their sin and follow Him. In truth they are liars because Jesus Himself said, “He that has my commandments and keeps them, he is the one that loves me,” and also, “If anyone will love me he will keep my word… he that loves Me not does not keep my words.”

There are others that may even really believe Jesus is who He claims to be, but out of fear, they will not tell others that. I am sure there were those in the crowd that did think Jesus was the Messiah, but we’re afraid to say so for fear of the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees. Do not let that fear control you, if you do, it says a lot about what your really do believe, namely that Jesus is not worthy of your being possibly persecuted and ridiculed. A stern warning for you comes from Matt. 10:33 where Jesus says, whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before my which is in heaven.

Don’t be like the fickle crowd that surrounded Jesus that day, proclaiming one thing but not acting in accordance with what you say. If you know Jesus, then boldly proclaim Him to everyone. If you do not know Him, recognize that and find out who He really is. If you have questions about Jesus, that is a major reason this church exists. Come and ask me or any of our church leaders. We are here to help you understand the truth of God’s Word.

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