“Who Is This?”

Matthew twenty-one portrays the most significant coronation the world has yet seen. It was a true coronation of a true King. “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.’” (Matthew 21.1-5)

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“A Planned Provocation”

Matthew (Mt.21.1) says that as Jesus and the disciples were approaching Bethphage, an outlying district of Jerusalem, Jesus sent two of the disciples ahead of them to procure a donkey and her colt. Matthew is the only writer who mentions two animals, and some scholars have suggested, in a manner insulting to Matthew, that he misunderstood the text he is about to cite from Zechariah and invented the extra animal to conform to it. Matthew was not stupid, of course. Jesus did not ride on two animals. He is merely recording a detail the other writers omit, namely, that there was a mother donkey and her foal, on which Jesus actually sat, though the clothes were spread on both. As far as the prophecy is concerned, it is an example of Hebrew parallelism in which two lines say the same thing, which Matthew certainly understood. We could translate, “on a donkey, that is, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

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“The Eight Most Momentous Days in History”

“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.’ ”

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“Son of David, Have Mercy on Me!”

According to Jewish law, property should remain within a family if possible. If a Jewish person lost his or her share of the land through debt or by some other means, a near relative (if there was one) was supposed to buy the property back. This person, because of his or her close relationship to the one who had lost the property, was a “kinsman,” and if he was willing and able to purchase the property and restore it to the family, he became a “kinsman-redeemer.” In some cases, in which there was no male heir to inherit the property after the owner’s death, the duty of the kinsman extended to marrying the widow in order to raise up heirs.

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“The Desire for Greatness”

Learning to serve others rather than themselves was a difficult lesson for the disciples. At the start of Matthew 18, the disciples were arguing about who should be greatest in Christ’s kingdom. To them, as for us, a kingdom meant pomp and power, not a cross. They assumed Jesus was going to take over the throne of His father David, and they were vying to see who would stand closest to that throne, exercise the greatest influence, and receive the greatest honor.

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“Lord of Pots and Pans and Things”

“And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, ‘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 will deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” (Mt.20.17-34)

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