Spiritual Blindness (Matt. 21:1–11)
Happy New Year, yes it does seam a strange thing to say at the end of November, but it is the start of the Churches year which always starts on Advent Sunday.
It has always seamed strange to me that the Gospel reading in the Prayer Book for Advent Sunday is about Jesus riding in to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
However if you look at the reading more closely you will see that it is more suited to Advent Sunday then it first looks at it is about Spiritual Blindness, people being blind to who Jesus really was.
Up to this point in time, Jesus had cautioned people not to tell anyone who He was, as He had deliberately avoided public scenes, but all that was now going to change.
This was to be the only time in His ministry that Jesus actually planned and promoted a public demonstration and it was to be at the start of the Passover festival when there were probably about two million people in and around the city of Jerusalem.
But why did Jesus plan this demonstration? For one thing, He was obeying the Word and fulfilling the prophecy recorded in Zechariah.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass.” (9:9)
This prophecy could apply only to Jesus Christ, for He is the only One with credentials that prove He is Israel’s King, we usually do not associate the lowly donkey with kingship, but this was the royal animal of Jewish monarchs (1 Kings 2:32ff).
There were actually two animals involved, the mother and the colt or foal, Jesus sat on the colt with properly the mother walking beside.
If we compare Matthew’s Gospel with the original prophecy in Zechariah, we discover some interesting facts as Zechariah’s prophecy opens with, “Rejoice greatly” but Matthew omitted this phrase. When Jesus approached the city, He wept! How could He (or the people) rejoice when judgment was coming?
Mathew also omitted “He is just, and having salvation.” Our Lord’s coming to Jerusalem was an act of mercy and grace, not an act of justice or judgment. He did have salvation for them, but they refused to accept it (John 1:11). The next time Israel sees the King, He will ride in great power and glory (Rev. 19:11ff).
This colt had never been ridden (Mark 11:2), yet he meekly bore his burden. The presence of the mother helped, of course. But keep in mind that his rider was the King who has “dominion over... all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field” (Ps. 8:6–7). The fact that Jesus rode this beast and kept him in control is another evidence of His kingship.
There was a second reason for this public presentation: It forced the Jewish leaders to act. When they saw the spontaneous demonstration of the people, they concluded that Jesus had to be destroyed (see John 12:19). The prophetic Scriptures required that the Lamb of god be crucified on Passover. This demonstration of Christ’s popularity incited the rulers to act.
The people acclaimed Jesus as their King both by their words and their deeds. They shouted Hosanna which means, “Save now!” They were quoting from Psalm 118:25–26, and this psalm is definitely messianic in character. Later that week, Jesus Himself would refer to this psalm and apply it to Himself (Ps. 118:22–23; Matt. 21:42).
Keep in mind that this Passover crowd was composed of at least three groups: the Jews who lived in Jerusalem, the crowd from Galilee, and the people who saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead (John 12:17–18). Sharing the news of this miracle undoubtedly helped to draw such a large crowd. The people wanted to see this miracle-worker for themselves.
But the Jews still did not recognize Jesus as their King. What caused Israel’s spiritual blindness? For one thing, their religious leaders had robbed them of the truth of their own Word and had substituted man-made traditions (Luke 11:52). The leaders were not interested in truth; they were concerned only with protecting their own interests (John 11:47–53). “We have no king but Caesar!” was their confession of willful blindness. Even our Lord’s miracles did not convince them. And the longer they resisted the truth, the blinder they became (John 12:35ff).
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Mt 21:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.