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No Ordinary King

March 25, 2018 Speaker: Brian Wilbur Series: Holy Week 2018

Topic: Holy Week Passage: Matthew 21:1–17


An Exposition of Matthew 21:1-17

By Pastor Brian Wilbur

Date:   March 25, 2018

Series: Holy Week 2018

Note:   Scripture quotations are from The ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version), copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


This Lord’s Day marks the beginning of Holy Week, that special week on the church calendar when we remember the suffering of our Lord. If we are Christians, then we know that our spiritual well-being is tied directly to our Lord’s suffering and sacrificial death. We were engulfed in a sea of troubles – and there was no way out, except through the mercy of the perfect Lamb of God:

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned every one to his own way;

and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

(Isaiah 53:4-6)

We are the ones who ought to have been stricken, afflicted, wounded, and crushed. But Jesus our Savior assumed responsibility for our many sins and shouldered the burden of our punishment and guilt. The Great Physician drank the cup of justice, so that “a healing stream”[1] could flow to us. The heavy blow struck Him, so that peace could descend on us. Therefore, we remember: we remember the Holy One who loved us and “poured out his soul to death” (Isaiah 53:12) for the sake of hell-bound rebels like us.

This holy remembrance of the Holy One during Holy Week begins today with Palm Sunday. On Palm Sunday, we remember what is traditionally called ‘The Triumphal Entry,’ that day when the Lord Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem amid the joyful shouts of ‘Hosanna’ and with palm branches spread before Him in honor. We shall give attention to Matthew’s description of this event along with the event that Matthew mentions next, namely, ‘The Cleansing of the Temple.’ This whole passage, Matthew 21:1-17, will help us see that Jesus is no ordinary king, but is rather a king who is uniquely worthy of our devotion and praise.


Holy Scripture says:

1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
    humble, and mounted on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, 16 and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,

“‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies
    you have prepared praise’?”

17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.

(Matthew 21:1-17)


Our passage gives us four glimpses of Jesus our King. Do you know that “beholding the glory of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18) is absolutely key to spiritual transformation?

This is what the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

All of the other spiritual activities that we undertake will prove unfruitful unless we behold the King’s glory with the spiritual eyes of faith. Our great need in this hour is to catch glorious glimpses of our extraordinary King through the words of sacred Scripture.

The First Glimpse: Jesus is the King who Comes in Humility (v. 1-5)

The first glimpse is given in verses 1-5, where we see that Jesus is the King who comes in humility. As the passage begins to unfold, we learn that Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. He is en route to Jerusalem because He has a divine appointment in this holy city, as Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 20:

“See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” (Matthew 20:18-19)

The King has official business to conduct in the geographic and spiritual heart of Israel, and this business concerns His suffering, His death, and His resurrection. Therefore, with deliberate resolve to drink the cup of suffering (see Matthew 20:22) and “give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28), Jesus journeys to Jerusalem.

We see this geographic progress as we look through Matthew’s Gospel. In Matthew 15-17 we learn that Jesus was ministering in the North (Matthew 15:21, 15:39, 16:13, 17:22, 17:24). Then in Matthew 19 Jesus moved “from Galilee” southward to “the region of Judea beyond the Jordan” (Matthew 19:1). Eventually he passed through Jericho (Matthew 20:29, Luke 19:1), which was about 15 or 20 miles from Jerusalem. Now in Matthew 21 we learn that Jesus has come into the area of Bethphage (v. 1) and Bethany (v. 17). The villages of Bethphage and Bethany were within a few miles from Jerusalem and they sat near the Mount of Olives at the doorstep of Jerusalem. This movement toward and into Jerusalem in Matthew 21 is an indication that the Savior is about the fulfill that purpose for which He came.

But it is important not only that Jesus entered Jerusalem, but how He entered. For the manner of His entrance into Jerusalem is a significant matter. We see this unfold in verses 2-3: Jesus directs two of His disciples to go ahead to the village and bring back the donkey and colt that they will find there. Jesus supposes that while His disciples are on this donkey-and-colt mission, someone might question why the disciples are taking these animals with them. Jesus says that if someone questions them, they should reply, “The Lord needs them,” and that answer shall satisfy the questioner, presumably the owner or manager of the animals. Here we do well to remind ourselves that if the Lord comes a-knocking on our door and says that He needs this or He needs that, the right response is not to cook up protest along the lines of ‘the Lord doesn’t need anything’ but rather to humbly yield ourselves to the Lord’s request. It’s all His anyhow, but He gives us the opportunity for willing participation. Let us not squander our opportunities to show good faith to our Lord.

Of course, the means of obtaining the donkey and colt are quite secondary to the main headline here – and if you’re the kind of person given to speculation about how exactly the Lord knew about this donkey and colt, I urge you to quiet your heart so that you don’t miss the main attraction. In Matthew’s customary style, he immediately tells us that what was happening here was nothing less than the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy:

“This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

“Say to the daughter of Zion,

‘Behold, your king is coming to you,

humble, and mounted on a donkey,

and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” (v. 4-5)

The whole point of Jesus riding to Jerusalem on a donkey was meant to signal a twofold message: first, that Jesus is the messianic King who was promised in the Old Testament in passages such as Zechariah 9:9 (to which Matthew refers in v. 4-5); and second, that this messianic King comes to His people in humility.

The whole Old Testament looked forward to the coming of Messiah, the Anointed One, the true Spirit-empowered King – from the tribe of Judah and the family of David – who would bring righteousness and peace to Israel and all the nations. In the latter part of the Old Testament, the word of the Lord was thus spoken through the prophet Zechariah:

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!

Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold, your king is coming to you;

righteous and having salvation is he,

humble and mounted on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim

and the war horse from Jerusalem;

and the battle bow shall be cut off,

and he shall speak peace to the nations;

his rule shall be from sea to sea,

and from the River to the ends of the earth.”

(Zechariah 9:9-10)

Here there is cause for great joy among God’s people! The King is coming! He is not corrupted or corruptible like all the other heads of state, but He is righteous. He brings salvation and peace and the rule of righteousness to all peoples and lands. This means, among other things, that the tools and machinery of war will be cut off. War horses and chariots, bombers and tanks – cut off! Battle bows and battleships, chemical and nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and anti-missile defense systems – cut off and no more!

One of the greatest symptoms of human sin is the trillions of dollars spent on military defense and sophisticated instruments of destruction and death. And why? Because there is no peace – and there is no promise of peace – to rebellious men who have turned their backs on God. Do you realize how much good could be done if those trillions of dollars were spent elsewhere – or kept in the hands of virtuous citizens – to be invested in noble endeavors that contribute to human flourishing? But alas, it cannot be so, because there is no abiding peace apart from the Prince of Peace. “There is no peace… for the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22). There is no peace for the ungodly nations that rage against the Lord’s Anointed and attempt to prosper on their own terms.

Imagine, if you can, the world stage: China and North Korea and Russia and the United States with all of their military powers; and, in other parts of the world, tribal warlords or militant groups who dominate in their own little spheres; and then in the center of the world you have modern-day Israel with its capable military defense and presumed nuclear arsenal. Imagine, if you can, all these gathered together in battle attire, with all of their armed forces at the ready, with fear and suspicion gripping each leader, with each man wondering who will make the first move.

For a moment, the scene shifts from earth to heaven, and “far above all earthly powers”[2] the sovereign Lord is exalted in the heavens and He laughs at the conceits of foolish men. These men think they are something special and strong, but they do not consider that their very next breath is held in the hand of God, and by a simple word the Lord God could topple them all in a single moment. But He doesn’t, not yet. Instead He sends a sign into their midst. The scene shifts back to earth, and the divinely appointed King who will inherit and rule the nations sits upon a donkey and makes his way to Jerusalem. The world’s leaders and powerbrokers laugh at the silliness of it all. Shouldn’t a king be carried in the splendor of a great chariot, or be riding on a mighty war horse, or be sitting atop a battle tank surrounded by a sea of loyal forces? Shouldn’t a king meet power with power and force with force?

But here He is, the Lord Jesus Christ, the promised King, sitting on a donkey. He is unarmed, and He is surrounded not by an army but by a crowd of unarmed admirers. And He intends to topple all the forces of darkness! How can this be? Divine foolishness outsmarts the wisdom of men; divine weakness outmaneuvers the powers of the present age; divine surprise outwits the dull predictability of human thought (see 1 Corinthians 1:18-25). And the sacrifice of a perfect King on a shameful cross makes all things new. Oh that you would have spiritual eyes to see the power of the humble Savior! Long ago, King David put it this way:

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses,

but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.” (Psalm 20:7-8)

As the Lord God exalted His humble servant Jesus and gave Him the victory, so we share in that victory as we entrust ourselves to Jesus and follow in His footsteps. We are not blind anymore: we know that our salvation is bound up with the humility and gentleness of the true King, here signified by the donkey on which He sat, and soon to be signified by the cross on which He died.

Jesus is the King who comes in humility.

The Second Glimpse: Jesus is the King who Rightly Receives Praise (v. 6-11)

Then comes the second glimpse: Jesus is the King who rightly receives praise. The disciples followed Jesus’ instructions – that’s what disciples do, they follow their Master’s directions – the disciples did what Jesus had told them to do and brought the donkey and colt to Jesus (v. 6-7). The disciples put their cloaks – their coat-like outer garments – on the donkey and on the colt (v. 7). Then Jesus sat upon the cloaks that had been placed upon the colt (v. 7; and see Mark 11:7). Then the crowd began to honor Jesus: “Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road” (v. 8). In terms of our own cultural frame of reference, one might think of an aisle runner rolled out at a wedding, and of the flower girl tossing flower petals upon the bridal walkway. All this conveys beauty, dignity, and honor to the bride on her wedding day. Of course, in terms of Matthew 21, the Triumphal Entry is more like a victory parade than a wedding ceremony, but the point is that the placement of cloaks and tree branches on the road conveyed beauty, dignity, and honor to the Lord as he approached the capital city.

These folks knew that Jesus was special – they had heard His teaching, and they had seen or at least heard about His miraculous deeds. Therefore, they honored Him! And as their hands adorned the Lord’s pathway with cloaks and branches, so their voices filled the air with words of praise:

“Hosanna to the Son of David!

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

Hosanna in the highest!” (v. 9)

“Hosanna” is a difficult word to define. Although it literally means ‘save now’ and thus might be understood as a prayer requesting salvation, “Hosanna” actually functioned as a word of exuberant praise. Verses 15-16 show that Jesus clearly understood “Hosanna” in terms of praise. Like the crowds in the streets, so the children in the temple were shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (v. 15) Then in verse 16 Jesus describes the shouts of the children in terms of “praise” (v. 16). Thus the children in the temple and the crowds in the street were rendering praise and honor to Jesus as the Son of David, as the Promised King, as the One who had come in the Lord’s name to do the Lord’s will. They quoted from Psalm 118:26 by declaring, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Although there are many faithful ones who have come in the Lord’s name, Jesus is the ultimate One who comes in the Lord’s name and fulfills all the expectant hopes and promises of the Old Testament. Since Jesus is indeed “the Son of David” who comes with salvation in His wings, it is profoundly right that He receives glory and praise.

Because Jesus entered Jerusalem not as a lone rider but with an entourage of folks who were visibly and audibly excited about Him, it is not surprising that the movement and noise generated a buzz in the city:

“And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city as stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”” (v. 10-11)

A prophet indeed – and much more! In all this, our Lord Jesus rightly receives the honor due Him as Prophet, Savior, and King. And to that we might also add Priest, since He is about to conduct official business in the temple of God.

The Third Glimpse: Jesus is the King who Cleanses and Heals (v. 12-14)

Which brings us to the third glimpse: Jesus is the King who cleanses and heals. Let’s back up for just a moment to remember the context. In verse 5 we learned that Jesus is the humble King. This word “humble” may also be understood in terms of gentleness. You may recall the Lord’s words earlier in Matthew’s Gospel, when He gave the great invitation:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus is “gentle and lowly” – the gracious giver of peace and rest. But just when one wants to do a screenshot of the ‘meek and mild’ King and say that this phrase says it all, Jesus enters the temple with holy rage:

“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.” (v. 12)

Just imagine what it would be like to be enjoying a Fellowship Meal in the Lower Vestry, when suddenly a man walks into the room. In a serious and elevated tone, he tells folks to get out. Then he starts flipping tables, and food goes flying, and drinks spill, and babies cry, and the children run. The whole scene is chaotic, blood pressures skyrocket, anxieties run high, and deep anger is brewing. You might want someone to remain calm enough to call the police, or put up a good fight. But suppose the disturber of the peace is none other than the Prince of Peace? If that be the case, then it is you who are in trouble, and not Him.

Jesus is humble of heart, but hard against every form of pride and greed. Jesus is tenderhearted toward the bruised and broken, but tough against those who practice religious hypocrisy.[3] Jesus is a safe refuge for penitent sinners, but He is profoundly unsafe for anyone who wants to indulge in the works of the devil. The apostle John wrote: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8), and devilish works include all forms of unrighteousness, hate, envy, and greed. So, if you are indulgent in unrighteous deeds, then fasten your seat belt, because the Lord Jesus came to make war against everything that gets in the way of true peace. And your seat belt isn’t going to do you a bit of good! All you can do is forsake your sin and find mercy, or remain in your sin and perish.

Here and always, Jesus’ preeminent concern was the glory and honor of His Father:

“He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”” (v. 13)

Jesus was consumed with zeal for His Father’s house (see John 2:17, Psalm 69:9). His Father’s house, the temple, ought to have been a dignified place of worship and prayer, but it had been repurposed for unjust commerce. Certain folks had turned the Jewish religion and the sacrificial system into an economic engine. The temple ought to have been a place where worshipers were welcomed and encouraged to draw near to God, and all temple administrators and temple workers ought to have helped to facilitate this divine purpose. But instead of facilitating the worship of God, the agents of the temple market worshiped money – and their money-love was a bitter root that poisoned the house of God. They put their own financial gain above the prayers of the people. Therefore, the temple needed to be cleansed of this filth. And Jesus, the Great High Priest, went to work.

Note well that the New Testament calls the church a spiritual temple being built up in the Lord, and the New Testament also calls the Christian’s physical body a temple of the Holy Spirit. The church community is sacred space, and so is the individual Christian. All that we are ought to be surrendered as worship unto the Lord, and all that we do ought to be done in a spirit of prayer. If we corrupt the temple, don’t be surprised when Jesus shows up to drive out our sins and overturn our carefully set up props. The very miracle of conversion is that by Christ’s power a den of iniquity becomes a house of prayer! All this is bad news for the flippant and unbelieving, but it is good news for the faithful. If we are walking with Jesus, then we do not need to despair when we discover our corruptions, because as the apostle John puts it: “the blood of Jesus [God’s] Son cleanses us from all sin…. If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:7, 9) Therefore, let us cooperate with our Lord’s cleansing work.

Jesus had spiritual authority not only to cleanse the temple, but also to heal the sick: “And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.” (v. 14) Although both actions signify the Lord’s authority to set things right, they signify something else as well. The self-assured agents of religion, here represented by the money-changers and sellers in verse 12 and by the chief priests and scribes in verse 15, are the people who are far from God’s kingdom. They are spiritually blind and disabled, and they are unable to walk in the ways of the Lord. By contrast: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) Those who acknowledge their spiritual poverty, here represented by “the blind and the lame” who went to Jesus for help in verse 14 and by “the children crying out [“Hosanna…”] in the temple” in verse 15, are the people who are able to receive God’s kingdom. In other words, the tables aren’t the only thing being turned over here; the whole religious system is being turned on its head. The somebodies are being cut off; and the nobodies are being grafted in. Jesus is the King who turns the tables, and through His cleansing and healing power, He sets the world straight. Blessed are those who have eyes to see and hearts to rejoice in these marvelous things! For there are many who do not rejoice in our Lord’s work, which we will see as we turn to our final point of consideration.

The Fourth Glimpse: Jesus is the King who Answers His Critics (v. 15-16)

It comes as no surprise, really, that the somebodies don’t like what our Lord is doing. Therefore, they protest:

“But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant.” (v. 15) 

For these self-righteous religious leaders, “the wonderful things that [Jesus] did” were not wonderful at all, but they were actually perplexing, troubling, and upsetting. They saw Jesus disrupt commerce in the temple market; they saw Jesus heal the weak; and they heard the children praising Jesus as the heir to David’s throne. Jesus was breaking their religious protocols, or at least He was allowing them to be broken, and they were full of anger. They weren’t neutral observers who were curious to learn more; they were offended leaders whose turf had been invaded by this backcountry prophet from Nazareth. Their rules had been broken, their show had been upstaged, and they were furious and indignant. They asked Jesus in an exasperated tone, “Do you hear what these are saying?” (v. 16) Which now allows us to catch a fourth glimpse: Jesus is the King who answers His critics.

Each of the four sections in our passage is accompanied by a quotation of the Old Testament: the prophet Zechariah in verse 5, Psalm 118 in verse 9, the prophet Isaiah in verse 13, and now Psalm 8 in verse 16. Just as Jesus replied to the devil with Scripture in the forty days of temptation in the wilderness (see Matthew 4:1-11), so here Jesus replies to the religious leaders with Scripture. It is a fascinating exchange:

“and they say to Him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,

‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies

you have prepared praise’?” (v. 16)

Do you see how Jesus turns their question around? Jesus is essentially telling them that the problem is not what they hear the children saying, the problem is that they haven’t properly heard and understood what Scripture says in Psalm 8. If they understood the rightness of praise on the lips of children, and if they understood that Jesus is indeed “the Son of David” and the promised King who is worthy of such praise, then they would hear the loud Hosannas as a truly wonderful display of veneration, and they would then join their voices to the voices of the children, and like the Wise Men back in Matthew 2, they would fall down and worship Jesus the King (see Matthew 2:11).

But they are blind. They cannot see. They are walking in darkness and stumbling to their own ruin. In just a few days, their anger will reach a boiling point and they will judge their King as an impostor who is worthy of death. On that day, Jesus will not answer His critics anymore. They will revile Him, but He will not revile in return (1 Peter 2:23). They will mock Him, and He will not defend Himself. “… like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7) There in the dark shadow of death, He didn’t need to defend Himself, because He trusted the Father to be His perfect defense. This vindication of the humble King who was praised by little children and crucified by lawless men, this vindication would come not on Good Friday, nor on the Sabbath Day following, but on the morning of the third day, when the Father raised His Son from the dead. Atonement for sin accepted in full! Death undone! The judgment of cruel men reversed! The tables turned! The rejected stone becomes the cornerstone of God’s everlasting temple! Eternal life rushes in, and all who receive Him begin to share in the life and the glory that will have no end!

I know, I’m getting ahead of myself. But even here in Matthew 21 we learn that Jesus is no ordinary King.

He is the King who comes in humility – with salvation and peace for all who trust in Him.

He is the King who rightly receives honor – and if we refuse, the rocks will cry out (see Luke 19:37-40).

He is the King who powerfully cleanses and heals – and in doing so He overturns our sin-sick world and creates a new heart within each of His people.

He is the King who answers His critics. He answered His critics with words of Sripture in Matthew 21-22. Then after the great silence and crucifixion and burial of Matthew 27, He answered His critics, or rather the Father answered His critics, with the decisive answer of resurrection in Matthew 28. And one day, the risen Lord will come again – not in humility but in indescribable glory – and He will put all of His enemies to shame. Do not be among these unfaithful ones, but rather – as the apostle Peter said – “be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace” (2 Peter 3:14), because you trust in Him.   

Let us join our hearts together in rendering praise to our extraordinary King.


Lord Jesus Christ, You are worthy of our praise! Hosanna to the Son of David! Hosanna to the King of kings and Lord of lords! Hosanna to the Great High Priest and the Prince of everlasting peace!

We are grateful that you were born in a lowly condition in the little town of Bethlehem. We are grateful that you ministered among the lowly, that you welcomed the little children and blessed them, that you welcomed the blind and the lame and healed them. We are grateful that you rode into Jerusalem on a lowly donkey, and that you were lifted up on a shameful cross. How else could we have been saved, if you didn’t journey into the depths of our lowliness and weakness?

We are grateful that your drove out the money-changers and sellers from the temple courts, and that you overturned their tables and seats. How else could we have become people of prayer, if you hadn’t first come to us and cast out the works of darkness and overturned all the falsehoods in our hearts and minds? We are grateful that you are consumed with zeal for your Father’s house, because that means that you are consumed with zeal for the purity of your church, and for the purity of each believer. The process of purification is not always pleasant, Lord, but it is necessary and it is good.

Moreover, we look to you – Lord Jesus Christ – as the perfect Temple. You are the One, the only One, to whom we may go to meet with the Father. The Jewish temple couldn’t do that for us, the Jewish priests couldn’t do that for us, the Jewish sacrifices couldn’t do that for us, all the religion in the world couldn’t do that for us, and we couldn’t do that for us. But you are the Great High Priest, you are the perfect sacrifice, you are the one and only Mediator where we can go in order to be reconciled to God. In you we have access to the Father, through you our prayers are accepted, and because of you we have the Holy Spirit as the down payment on all of God’s promises – and one day we will share in your glory. 

You left your glory in order to reach out to the lowly and defiled, so that through your salvation we who were lowly and defiled might be lifted up to share in your glory. Hallelujah! Hosanna to the gracious King! Glory to God in the highest, and grace and peace for all who believe! Amen!



[1] This phrase “a healing stream” is found in the hymn “Near the Cross” written by Fanny Crosby.

[2] This phrase “far above all earthly powers” is informed by two other quotations: 1) Paul, speaking of Christ’s glorification, says that Christ has been “seated… far above all rule and authority and power and dominion…” (Ephesians 1:20-21); 2) Martin Luther, in his hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” spoke of “That word above all earthly pow’rs.” That said, my phrase “far above all earthy powers” should be interpreted mainly within the context of my sermon, not mainly in reference to these other quotations.

[3] In a different context, Pastor Douglas Wilson has spoken about how true masculinity is “hard” and “tough” – and in such a way that is consistent with all the spiritual and moral virtues that Scripture calls us to cultivate and practice. Because of Wilson’s influence, these words “hard” and “tough” were in my mind, although I repurposed them as apt descriptions of Christ’s activity in cleansing the temple.


NOTE: My inclusion of a bibliography reflects my interaction with other teachers in the preparation of my sermon. While the main part of my preparation involves my direct interaction with the biblical text, I find it helpful to invite other “discussion partners” into my preparation process. My mention of these teachers (writers, speakers, etc.) does not imply any particular level of agreement with them, nor does it constitute an endorsement of their work. That said, I am appreciative of those – past and present – who are seeking to faithfully teach God’s Word, and I am happy to benefit from their labor.

Currid, John D. and David P. Barrett. ESV Bible Atlas. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010.

Edwards, James R. The Gospel according to Mark (The Pillar New Testament Commentary). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001.

Morris, Leon. The Gospel according to Matthew (The Pillar New Testament Commentary). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992. 

Oden, Thomas C. and Christopher A. Hall. Mark (The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture). Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998 (first edition; a second edition has since been published).

NOTE: I also utilized Bible Hub, available online at, for information about the Greek word rendered humble/gentle in Matthew 21:5 and Matthew 11:29, and for commentary on Psalm 118:26 (part of which is quoted in Matthew 21:9).

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