Personal Application: Jesus is on a mission. Either respond to him in love or fear Him.
Outline: From chap. 18, we have seen the importance of responding to God in obedience. Chapter 21 shows us the danger of not responding to God (21:43). Now we enter Jesus’ final Holy Week. He enters Jerusalem (21:1-11) as the crowds respond to Him as Messiah and cleanses the Temple (21:12-17) where the leadership responds by questioning His authority (21:23-27). Jesus responds with two parables (21:28-46) accusing them of failure to respond to Him in obedience and faith, instead with hate
Matthew 21:1-11: Triumphal Entry
Jesus enters Jerusalem: Psalm 48:1-2. Bethphage today is called el-Azariyeh, in honor of Lazarus who was raised nearby (John 11:1, 17ff). “The Lord needs them,” As Jesus time gets closer, He reveals Himself in increasing clarity.
Prince of Peace: In the ancient world, a king on a horse meant war. A king on a donkey meant peace (Judges 5:10; 1 Kings 1:33). The cloaks on the ground: 2 Kings 9:13; Isaiah 40:1. Palm branches symbolized nationalism of Israel the palm tree.
Fulfilled prophecy again. Most of Matthew’s references to fulfilled prophecy are located at Christ’s birth and Holy Week. What the OT prophets saw is the heart of the Gospel, Christ’s entrance into the world, and his death and resurrection. By reading the NT writers interpretation of OT texts, we can learn how to read the OT and interpret it. The scholarship of the last 150 years has not looked at the Scripture this way. The NT is a commentary on the OT. Therefore, the NT teaches us how to read the OT. As much as Matthew is a hinge between the Old and New Testaments, it is a primer for us on interpretation.
Matthew combines Isaiah 62:11 with Zechariah 9:9. The word for salvation here is yesha, nearly identical and obviously pointing to the Messiah, Yeshua. Isaiah referred to the Savior’s name 700 years before the event. Matthew’s reference both to Isaiah and Zechariah in the fullness of their passages hints that the Salvation of Israel, the Messianic King, and Jesus of Nazareth are all one person. He also hints at two comings, the first on a humble donkey as our final atoning sacrifice “to perform the work ahead of Him.” He will return, “triumphant and victorious,” as ruling king. Next time He will return on a horse (Revelation 19:11).
Psalm 118:26-27 are the precedent for vv. 8-9. “The city was stirred” (v. 10), “convulsed” “stirred as if by an earthquake.”
Hosanna is a transliteration of Hebrew: “Save, please!” It is actually a prayer addressed to the Messiah only (Psalm 118:25-26). Psalm 118 is a Messianic psalm. Matthew quotes from it in v. 42 also. Blessed is Messiah who exercises power and authority on earth and at the same time is present in the highest heaven (John 17:1-26; Philippians 2:6-11). Jesus uses the same passage at 23:39.
How many donkeys? Was it a “foal” or “a she-ass, on a colt, the foal of a she-ass”? Some liberal scholars make much of this passage to show an apparent textual mishap to throw doubt on the integrity of the text. Some even say that Matthew, the tax collector, was such a poor writer that he made it look like Jesus was riding on two asses at once. Matthew has more detail many times throughout his gospel because he was an eyewitness (two demoniacs, two blind men, now two donkeys).
Mark 11:2 and Luke 19:30 mention only a male foal. Mark and Luke were probably not eyewitnesses. Further, a foal which had never been ridden and knows nothing of following roads, especially in a surging crowd and noise, will follow its mother donkey and also shows its obedience to the Master. (Possible allusion to the cows which had calved pulling the Ark of the Covenant back to Beth Shemesh, the border of Israel (1 Samuel 6:10, 12). Matthew saw a she-ass, the literal fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9. The point? The Bible is a reliable document and can be trusted.