More Than a Prophet? - Matthew 21:1-11

1.      What memories flood your mind when you think of a parade for a dignitary?

2.      Have you ever attended a parade where a famous person, like a President, was part of the parade? What was it like?

3.      What is the appeal of seeing a world leader or someone very famous in person?

Today’s Scripture tells of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem at the beginning of the Passover festival and the joyful response of the crowd. This event marks the beginning of Jesus’ final week prior to His arrest, betrayal, trial, crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

As we explore our passage, think about the details associated with how Israel’s long-awaited King made His grand entrance into the “Holy City.”

 

The King’s Prerogative! Read Matthew 21:1-5

 

Bethphage was located on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. (Point the location of the Mount of Olives on a map.)

1.      What specific instructions did Jesus give to two of His disciples here?

2.      What did Jesus’ knowledge about the animals reveal about Him?

3.      What is the significance of what Jesus told them to tell the owner if questioned about taking the animals? (The literal meaning of “Lord” is “Master.” Evidently the owner knew Jesus as “Master.”)

Jesus goes on to teach the disciples that all of these events were done in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy concerning the Messiah. See Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9.

4.      What assurances about God’s plan can be drawn from the precise details about the Messiah found in these passages?

Zion is used sometimes to refer to Jerusalem, so Daughter Zion provided a word picture to describe the people of Jerusalem.

5.      What do you suppose people in Jesus’ day thought of when they heard of a king?

6.      When a king entered a city in that time period how did they normally arrive? (Riding a horse, certainly not on a donkey!)

7.      How did this prophecy indicate that Jesus was a very different kind of king than any they had experienced? (Jesus came in meekness and humility, not with a great show of power.)

8.      What kind of king and kingdom had the people expected? (They were expecting a king who would establish his kingdom on earth and make life better and easier for those under his rule in the here and now!)

Jesus’ kingdom was definitely not what they expected. His followers had many unanswered questions, but they followed Him in faith.

 

The King’s Celebration! Read Matthew 21:6-8

 

1.      How would your life be different if you responded like the disciples in verse 6?

2.      What are the benefits of unquestioning obedience?

3.      How did the disciples treat Jesus?

The disciples followed Jesus’ directions by bringing the donkey and her colt. Then they laid their robes on them before Jesus mounted. Even the crowd removed their own robes and spread them on the road; they spread branches on the road and began to shout. This crowd was already excited about coming to Jerusalem for the “Passover” celebration and this just added to their excitement.

Remember, most of the people coming to Jerusalem from Galilee would come down the east side of the Jordan River, to avoid Samaria, and cross back over near Jericho. Many of them had likely encountered Jesus during His ministry in Galilee and may have been proud that they at least knew of Jesus, and so would be enthusiastic participants.

Their actions resembled the response of God’s people in the Old Testament when they found themselves in the presence of a king. Listen to 2 Kings 9:13.

4.      What are the benefits of unquestioning obedience? (Unlimited joy and blessings!)

Read Matt. 21:9

Ironically, “Hosanna” literally means “God save us.”

5.      What did the name “Son of David” indicate? (Possibly they thought He would become an earthly king who would save His people through political and military success.)

What we understand now, that the people of Jesus’ day didn’t, is that His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom in the hearts of men.

The phrase “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” were from Psalm 118:26. There are six celebratory psalms sung at major Jewish festivals. Psalms 113 and 114 were sung before the Passover meal was eaten; Psalms 115, 116, 117 and 118 were sung after the meal. So these psalms would be fresh on the minds of the people. Prior to this event Jesus had stopped the people from proclamations that indicated He was the Messiah, but now He allows it.

6.      How do we celebrate the presence of Christ in our lives? In our church?

7.      How do the demonstrations today compare to the reception Jesus received as He entered Jerusalem?

 

The People’s Confusion! Read Matthew 21:10-11

 

1.      Why was the city shaken? (There was confusion about who Jesus was from the beginning of His ministry. The people could not comprehend how the Son of Mary and Joseph could claim to be the promised Savior of the world, much less the Son of God.)

2.      Why was it easier for the people to call Jesus a prophet than to acknowledge Him as the Son of God? (Human nature looks for an indisputable explanation for everything. The people knew and understood the role of a prophet; most of them could not define, defend, or comprehend Jesus’ mission.)

Once again, many of the people who were saying Jesus was “the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee” were most likely from that region. Those asking the questions were from other parts of Israel less familiar with Jesus’ ministry.

Apparently the crowd was excited about having a potential king in their midst. However, by asking “Who is this?” and by calling Jesus a prophet, they indicated they had no idea of the true majesty of Jesus or the gravity of this event and the ones to follow. They mentioned only that He came from Nazareth; apparently they didn’t realize He was born in Bethlehem to a virgin according to prophecy.

3.      In what ways do people in our time express a misunderstanding about Jesus as the Messiah, the long-awaited King?

 

Summarize and Challenge! 

 

Truths from today’s study:

·         Jesus is sovereign over all of His creation!

·         Jesus is worthy of our honor and praise!

·         Jesus is the promised messiah who came to save His people from sin!

 

1.      Jesus gave two of His disciples specific instructions. What specific directive has Jesus given you to fulfill?

2.      What actions are you taking to complete the assigned task?

3.      How do you communicate what you believe about Jesus through your daily life?