B.C.P. Advent 1 Matthew 21:1-13
Since the wheel was invented people's mode of transport has reflected something about the person being transported. Jesus is travelling the last few miles into Jerusalem. He had walked with thousands of fellow Jews the 65 miles or so from Galilee. As he nears Bethphage he decides to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. He was telling the crowds something about who he is. The Messiah, the anointed one sent by God.
Zachariah 9:9 foretells the coming of the Messiah :
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. Matthew, who was writing for Jews who were brought up knowing the O.T. quotes some of this verse. cf verse 5.
This is the first public disclosure by Jesus of who he is. The Jewish leaders could not cope with this, and had him crucified five days later.
Today is the first Sunday in advent. Advent means coming and precedes Christmas, a celebration of the birth of Jesus. God and man. Saviour of the world. Yet this birth was only seen by a few. There is a sense that it is not until Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey that he nails his colours to the mast.
Every part of Zachariah 9:9 is fulfilled by Jesus :
"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem:" the rejoicing and shouting are fulfilled as the crowds welcome Jesus.
"behold, thy King cometh unto thee" : Jesus is King, ruler of the universe, not just King of the Jews. He takes upon himself the role of King in condemning the misuse of the temple as a market place, rather than a place of prayer.
"he is just, and having salvation" : Jesus is just or righteous. He is perfect and therefore can present himself as a perfect sacrifice for the sin of the world. This is the salvation he offers. Saving us from the effects of sin. In the way that it can control our lives, and in the way that it separates us from God. We celebrate and proclaim that salvation as we receive the bread and wine.
"lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass." Jesus was humble. In leaving the glory of heaven to come to earth. In coming from Nazareth in Galilee, a place despised by the Jews. Remember Nathaniel saying, "Nazareth, can anything good come from there ?" ( Jn. 1:46 ) . In going obediently to death on a cross. A place of pain and humiliation.
The Messiah was expected to come on a war horse, leading his people in battle to conquer the Romans and to restore Israel to the glory it enjoyed under King David. But Jesus came in peace. A donkey colt was ridden by Kings at a time of peace. Jesus brings peace. Peace between people and God. Peace between individuals.
As God made man Jesus was entitled to receive all glory and honour, but first he came in humility, in weakness, in peace, and endured injustice, suffering and death. As followers of Jesus we too have to come in humility and peace and endure rejection, injustice and pain before the glory that awaits us. A glory that will be revealed when Jesus returns. When Jesus does return it will not be in the anonymity of a stable, but coming on the clouds with power and glory for everyone to see. Then Jesus will gather up all who follow him.
The crowd were asking the question "Who is this?" verse 10.
The answer to this , and the acceptance of him as personal Lord and Saviour is essential for someone's salvation. It is no use saying that you believe that Jesus existed, or saying that he is the Son of God unless it affects our life. Not just on a Sunday but all of the week. Not just in a Church Building, but everywhere.
It has to affect our worship too. Jesus exercised his kingship and authority by driving out of the temple those who were there to profit themselves, rather than glorify God. Again we have the use of the O.T. when Jesus quotes from it to challenge the motivation of those who were in the temple.
It causes us to ask the question, 'Why are we here in church ? ' Is it to worship and glorify God ? To pray to him ? Or is it a habit ? Or do we think that we are pleasing God ? Adding points to a heavenly total ?
So, at the start of Advent let us remember that Jesus is King. He has come to earth and conquered death. he is waiting to return and, one day, will come in all his power, and majesty to take those who love, worship, and serve him to be with him forever.