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The King Prepares His Procession, Part 1

Luke 19:28-30

We are steadily making our way through Luke’s Gospel and today we find ourselves in Luke 19, and you can turn in your bibles to Luke 19:28 as we enter into the final week of Jesus’, well we could say his pre resurrection life, his pre glorified life, his final week before the cross. So just one more week left in Luke’s Gospel, but it’ll take us a little longer than a week to go through it. That’s one way of looking at it. Another way we could look at it is there are a hundred and sixty eight hours in a week, and it may just take a hundred and sixty eight hours of preaching to get through this final week of Jesus’ life. I won’t do it all today. Trust, trust me.

The heading in many of our bibles says the triumphal entry. The triumphal entry. And it is a triumphal entry. But the heading may seem on the surface, as we read into the details of this triumphal entry and what follows, it may seem to be something of a misnomer. As Luke takes us through the final week of Jesus’ life on earth, Luke 19:28 through the end of chapter 23, chapter 23, verse 56.

As he takes us through the final week of Jesus life on earth, things seem to go from bad to worse for Jesus. Section actually ends with him dying on a cross and his body being buried in a tomb. So it, it may seem, apparently, on the surface it may seem to be another unmitigated disaster. The sad tale of yet another failed Messiah, a tale with which the Jews were quite familiar. Made them cynical, made them distrusting.

But as we keep on reading, and we read through the final chapter, we read about the greatest triumph ever recorded. Jesus rises from the dead, conquers the grave, leaves the tomb, he ascends into heaven. So what seems to start in a tragedy as an unmitigated disaster ends in an unparalleled triumph and glory. That is what is ahead for us as we study Luke’s Gospel.

The text before us today is transitional in nature. We could say historically, it’s transitioning from the journey section into the passion section. So we are moving from the journey section that ends in this passage. Jesus is at his journey’s end, which ends in Jerusalem. He’s facing his final week in the passion.

It’s also a transitional text because theologically speaking and redemptively speaking, we see that Jesus is going to move from talking about redemption to accomplishing redemption. He is going to do what he set out to do, and that is to die for the sins of his people. So these historical or theological or redemptive transitions, they’re actually represented in the text itself in that first verse that we’re going to look at in verse 28, Luke chapter 19, where Luke tells us, “And when he had said these things, he went on ahead going up to Jerusalem.” When he said these things, what things?

Well, the parable that he just told in Jericho. The parable about a nobleman who traveled to a distant land to receive a Kingdom and then returned. When he goes this nobleman, when he goes, he leaves behind citizens who hate him, refuse to accept him as king, but that doesn’t stop him from going to receive the Kingdom anyway. He’s intent on his mission to go receive the Kingdom that he has been given and then return.

And So what we’re about to see is that parable that we’ve already been through see that parable acted out in real life. Jesus goes to the royal city of Jerusalem. He goes to present himself there to his people as their incoming king. He is going essentially to a royal coronation. And what we’re going to see today are his preparations for that coronation procession to proceed on the route to Jerusalem, to the Holy City.

So with that in mind, let’s begin by reading the text and we’ll read a, more than we’re going to cover today, we’ll read from verse 28 to verse 44. “And when he had said these things, he went on ahead going up to Jerusalem. And when he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples saying, ‘Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tide on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you why are you untying it, you shall say this.’ ‘The Lord has need of it.’

“So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owner said to them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ And they said ‘The Lord has need of it,’ and they brought it to Jesus. Throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road.

“[And he] as he was drawing near, already on the way down to the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven and glory in the highest.’ Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher rebuke your disciples.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.’

“When he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it. Saying, ‘Would that you, even you had known on this day the things that make for peace, but now they’re hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you because you did not know the time of your visitation.’”

Starts with great anticipation and hope, praise, joy. Ends in sorrow and weeping and warning. Procession takes place on a Sunday. It’s what we now call Palm Sunday. This procession is attended by thousands of people, maybe tens of thousands, because the city of Jerusalem was swollen with tens to hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who had come to celebrate the Passover. Thousands of people there, tens of thousands, lining the road to see him, and most of whom are rejoicing and praising God and celebrating that Jesus is coming as the incoming king, that he is their Messiah.

But as we just read, there are some of the leading citizens, the Pharisees. They represent the power and the wealth. And the interests of the political and religious establishment in Jerusalem. They oppose the king, and it’s in the same vein of what we saw in the parable. “We do not want this man to reign over us.”

So the Pharisees, they are a harbinger of foreboding, a sign of the dark days that lie just ahead. Jesus, for his part, he knows all things. He knows how superficial the support of the crowd really is. He knows how uninformed and how superficial and shallow their, their praise of him is because they don’t really understand him or know him. He also understands how their praise and any support will break away and give way because the Pharisees are so influential.

Because their pressure and their influence is so powerful. And so the crowd will go in just a week’s time from cheering to jeering. From calling for his coronation as king to calling for his execution as the worst of criminals. So the Sunday begins with Messianic anticipation. It starts with excited celebration and praise as the king travels along the procession route into Jerusalem for his coronation.

This is the opportunity that he is presenting for the people to see their king, to rejoice in him, and to give thanks to God for him and for God’s grace to them. It’s a Messianic secret actually, that Jesus is the king, that he’s the Messiah. He’s been keeping this secret all through his ministry, all the way through Galilee and Perea and Judea. He’s been cloaking the, who he really is. In fact, it’s only known to his closest disciples and he, by the way, has silenced them when they want to speak about it. He has sworn them to secrecy. He’s told them, “Don’t say anything about it.”

He does not want any premature unplanned coronation, which would be a false coronation. Bad timing. Not, not the divine timetable. So the secret of his Messiahship, his true royal identity, his Davidic lineage. His right to Israel’s throne, his intent to go and receive the Kingdom that his Father has given to him. That secret is revealed here on this day, on this day of procession.

As the king is exposed for who he truly is, we see at the same time that his exposure and his exaltation revealing him as the king of Israel, revealing him to be the Messiah that he is at the same time the opposition is also exposed. The heart of the opposition is revealed as well, and with murderous intent. This is why Jesus breaks down in tears at the end of the day. He’s weeping over the fate of Jerusalem. He knows the consequences of Israel rejecting its king.

He knows what’s going to happen to the city, what’s going to happen to its people. Horrible carnage and destruction that’s going to take place in just a short time, and it breaks his heart. Joy of his procession is then eclipsed by the sorrow of coming judgment as Israel rejects its Messiah. Now, as we enter into this final section of Luke’s Gospel, we’re going to start this morning with a bit of a broad approach to introduce this and then we’re going to narrow down the focus.

So you can almost take most of what I’m going to say today as introduction for the sermon that’s going to come, the end of the time and then next week as well. And really all the sermons that are going to come out of this. So just to help you with your thoughts and your note taking, let me give you a first point for our notes. Number one the king is regal, the king is regal and you’re saying “those are synonyms.” Yes, I know, but regal rhymes with my other points. So, the king is regal.

Jesus is regal. He is the king. He’s kingly. He is royal. We see that he is the nobleman of the parable. He’s the nobleman of a, of the parable, lived out in real life. He has noble character. He has the right of nobility. He has the lineage of nobility. He is regal. He has the right and the character to be Israel’s king.

And that’s really what this procession is all about, that he might be introduced to his people so that they might see the one who comes in order to be their new king, and he presents himself to them. That’s what the procession’s all about. He’s not hidden from view from the people. He’s not shielded behind tinted or bulletproof glass. He comes to them, as it were, in the open. He comes to them riding on a donkey’s colt.

Down low, where they can see him, where they can touch him, see him, hear him, observe him, reach out and touch him if they want to talk to him. That’s how this procession goes, unlike many other processions we’ve seen of royals coming into the throne. By God’s providence, we’ve had a recent example of this kind of thing. A coronation procession that happened just yesterday across the pond over in jolly old England.

Last year, it was September 8th, 2022 that the sovereign of England, then sovereign of England, Queen Elizabeth II, she passed away at the age of 96. She was queen, as we know for a remarkably long time, 70 years reigning, throne of England. And the day that she died, that Elizabeth died, her oldest son Charles became king. So yesterday, May 6th 2023, was the coronation ceremony for King Charles.

He was crowned king of England, king of the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom, though it’s diminished in its glory, it’s still a very significant commonwealth of more than fifty countries around the world. The coronation procession started yesterday at the royal residence, Buckingham Palace. Charles and Camilla rode in what’s called the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, pulled by six horses. Modern carriage the Diamond Jubilee State Coach is a modern carriage with hydraulic suspension. It’s got heating and air conditioning, modern comfort, but in royal style. I’m sure it’s bulletproof as well.

But the carriage itself is lined with significance from England’s history. There’s wood in there from the Tower of London, wood from Westminster Abbey, from Saint Paul’s Cathedral. There’s wood from the Merry Rose, which is the flagship of Henry VIII. There’s wood from the Mayflower, which has significance to our country. There’s a crown mounted on the top of that carriage that’s carved from the wood of the HMS Victory, which is the flagship of Lord Nelson, famous naval commander.

Door handles on that carriage are decorated with 24 diamonds and 130 sapphires. There are handmade lamps from Edinburgh Crystal. I’ve got none of that stuff in my house. I don’t know about you. So this Diamond Jubilee State Coach, it proceeded down the mall along Saint James Park toward Trafalgar Square. Procession turned down Whitehall and Parliament Street onto Parliament Square, Broad Sanctuary ended at the great West door of Westminster Abbey just before the start of the coronation ceremony at 11:00 AM local time.

Coronation itself lasted about two hours. Has five stages, starting with what’s called the recognition. Where King Charles is presented to the people by the Archbishop of Canterbury and many other dignitaries who were there. The people welcomed the new king, responding with shouts of “God save King Charles.” Next comes the oath. The oath. Actually, it’s two oaths, administered again by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who oversees the whole procedure.

The Coronation Oath and the Accession Declaration Oath. Both the Coronation oaths, so much of the ceremony I found fascinating because they’re all taken from Scripture. It was actually quite sad for me to witness such a profusely biblical ceremony. So saturated in Scripture and Theology, proclaiming even in the ceremony the Gospel all the way through and the lordship of Jesus Christ over the earth.

Sad to see that, hear that and know that the attendees and the Archbishop of Canterbury himself and the new king, all of them, are apostates who have rejected Christ, rejected God, rejected His Word. Anyway in the third stage, called the Anointing, King Charles entered the Coronation Theater in Westminster Abbey. He sat on Saint Edward’s chair, very old throne. The whole area at that time in the Anointing is screened off from public view where he strips out of his royal garments and he is there to be anointed. It’s the most sacred part of the service.

He [Jesus] comes to be observed, to be seen, to be studied and to be admired by all who will closely look at him and see who he really is.”

Travis Allen

As Charles is anointed with special coronation oil, and the oil is made from olives that are harvested from groves on Mount Olivet itself consecrated, in a special ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Fourth part of the ceremony, the Investiture, literally the crowning moment, when Charles is crowned king of England, he’s presented with royal regalia, royal spurs, a jeweled sword, golden arm bands, armlets worn by kings. There’s the Robe Royale. There’s corn, a coronation ring given to him, a sovereign’s orb put into his hand. He’s presented with the Sovereign’s Scepter with Cross. Representing power and justice, he’s presented with the Sovereign Scepter  with Dove that represents his spiritual role to rule and mercy.

All of these regalia, each element, each item has a story, has a meaning to it. It’s invested with meaning and significance. Everything is symbolic, by the way mounted in the Sovereign Scepter with Cross is the largest diamond. And it’s cut from the largest diamond ever found in the world called the Cullinan Diamond.

This one is called the Great Star of Africa, cut out of that Cullinan Diamond and it is 530.4 carats, now that’s big. I can’t even afford the .4 half of the .4. The Archbishop placed Saint Edward’s crown on the head of King Charles, the solid gold crown. Set with 444 Gems, rubies, amethyst, sapphires, garnet topazes, tourmaline gems, the crown weighs five pounds. That’s heavy on the head. So it’s something of a mercy, it’s the only time he’ll ever wear it, at this coronation, right, upon the crowning.

At the very moments of the crowning, the bells of Westminster Abbey rang for two minutes, trumpet sounded, guns fired rounds in salute. All across the United Kingdom there was a sixty two round salute fired at the Tower of London just down the road. And in eleven other places across the UK, places like Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, all the deployed Navy ships, Royal Navy ships, there were twenty one round salutes that were fired all across the Empire. And that leads to, finally, the enthronement where King Charles, wearing the royal crown, takes his seat on the throne.

The Archbishop of Canterbury who conducted the ceremony. He then comes and takes a knee and bows before the king and pays homage to him with an oath of homage. That’s followed by the king’s son, William, Prince of Wales, who pays homage to his father, again taking an oath of homage and in, kind of a touching scene, he leaned over and placed a kiss on his father’s cheek.

Next, in a short ritual, Camilla was crowned with Mary’s crown, and then the king and queen retired from their thrones. They entered Saint Edward’s Chapel, which is an area behind the high altar. They removed their crowns and then they returned, coming back to partake of communion. After that, they retired again to Saint Edward’s Chapel, and then prepared themselves for the return procession.

By the way, after Charles removes the Saint Edward’s crown, it’s replaced with what’s called the Imperial State Crown. It’s a lighter crown, doesn’t weigh as much, but it is mounted, in that crown is mounted the second largest of the Cullinan diamonds. It’s called the Second Star of Africa, and that weighs just 317.4 carats. That’s the crown that he puts on before the return procession to go back home to Buckingham Palace.

The king and queen returned home, this time in the Gold State coach, which is a two hundred and sixty year old carriage made of giltwood that is gold leaf over wood. It weighs 4 tons and so this one is pulled by eight horses. The whole procession is accompanied by military guard, the Army, the Navy. Powerful, powerful display of strength and wealth. They’re in their dress uniforms, marching in step and keeping time to the drums and the bands marching back to Buckingham Palace.

And the day ends back at Buckingham Palace with a parade out in the gardens of Buckingham Palace. And then there’s a fly over by the Red Arrows, which is a Royal Air Force aerobatic team that flies over the palace. Actually, the scene is reminiscent of seventy years earlier, where the image of the royal family on the balcony, there’s a black and white photo that you can find online, taken seventy years earlier on June 2nd of 1953 when Elizabeth II was crowned. And there you can see the four-year-old Prince Charles who is standing on that same balcony and pointing up at the airplanes at the coronation of his mother, Queen Elizabeth.

Estimated cost of this coronation of King Charles III, around £100 million, which is down actually. It’s a savings. It’s only about 125 million U.S. dollars. So as I estimated, that’s a two hour coronation, so that’s more than million dollars per minute. If we stretch that out, maybe. If we want to see the bright side of this, include the travel to and from the coronation, we got it down to about half a million dollars per minute.

How different the coronation of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s no less regal. He is no less a royal, no less a king than the king of England. But in this procession and in this coronation, there’s no ostentatious display of human wealth and human power.

There’s no need to dress up his regality. Because his nobility is on display. Any dressing up, any ostentation, would just distract from who he truly is. He comes to be observed, to be seen, to be studied and to be admired by all who will closely look at him and see who he really is.

Instead of riding in imperial coaches worth millions of dollars, pulled by strong, powerful horses flanked by soldiers, Jesus rides on the colt of a donkey, flanked by his disciples and peasant crowd. He’s on a borrowed donkey, no less, doesn’t even own that. And yet it is God himself who said, announcing through his prophet, Zechariah 9:9, “Behold, your king comes to you righteous, and having salvation is he, humble, mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Here’s what you look for. Here is the true king, a sure footed donkey carrying a most valuable rider. He bears the priceless gift of divine righteousness and eternal salvation.

Instead of being presented to the people. With all the support and the affirmation of the political and religious leaders of Jerusalem, Jesus is rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, Luke 9:22. He is unceremoniously handed over to the gentiles, Luke 18:32 to 33, so that he would be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon and flogged and killed. Can you imagine if even just a modicum of that kind of treatment came to King Charles yesterday? The outrage, the deaths that it would ensue?

And yet God has said Psalm 118 verse 22, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes. Jesus came for the purpose of seeking and saving the lost. So it’s his plan all along to be handed over, to be rejected, to die for his people, so that he would give his life as a ransom for many.

This is his plan. This is what he has ordered. This is what he pursues. This is what he’s in charge of. This is what he fulfills. Instead of taking his oaths before men, Jesus made his oath before God and to God, saying to him as it was recorded in Hebrews 10:5-7, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me. Burnt offerings and sin offerings you’ve taken no pleasure. And then I said, ‘Behold, I’ve come to do your will, oh God, as is written of me in the scroll of the book.’” Which he finally did. John 17:4, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”

Instead of a private anointing using a special coronation oil harvested from the olives and the Mount of Olives blessed in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the anointing he received before his coronation was for his burial applied to a dying dead body. The worship of love, the sacrificial gift of a woman, Mary of Bethany. And yet Jesus said “She has done a beautiful thing to me,” Mark 14-6, Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, wherever the Gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

You know what, he’s right. I just told it again here, now. Instead of investitures of men, royal regalia with all of their significance, instead of being crowned with a golden jewel encrusted crown, Jesus is actually stripped down to nothing before a battalion of Roman soldiers, Matthew 27:28. He’s robed in a scarlet robe. They twisted a crown of thorns to mock him and scorn him, pressed it on his head, put a reed in his right hand and kneeled mockingly before him saying, “Hail, king of the Jews.” This is what we think of the Jews. This is what we think of your people. You’re nothing to us. You’re a mockery.

Yet God said, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.” He was for a little while made lower than the angels. But now he is crowned with glory and honor, Hebrews 2:9. He is highly exalted. He has now been bestowed with a name that is above all names, Philippians 2:10, “so that that the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven, on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”

That’s who he is, instead of the ringing of bells and the resounding trumpets, deafening on the day, instead of the many gun salutes showing power and force and might to announce the new king, God himself rocked the world on that day from the Temple. When the curtain of the Temple is torn in two from top to bottom, Matthew 27:51, the earth shook, the rocks were split.

The centurion who stood there witnessing things, he saw the earthquake and he witnessed what took place. He knew he was filled with awe and he formerly an enemy, formerly a mocker and a scoffer, he looks and says, “Truly this was the Son of God.”

Instead of an enthronement on King Edward’s chair, a seven hundred year old throne, part of a thousand year old ceremony on the Cosmati pavement in Westminster Abbey, that is a twelve hundred plus year old church, instead of that, after making purification for sins, Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High. He took his seat at the right hand of the Ancient of Days on an everlasting, eternal throne. Again, very different kind of a coronation. But make no mistake, the Lord is regal, he is king, and any dressing up of the fact, any dressing up of the matter, only distracts from his true glory.

And everything in the procession, everything in the chapter that we’re going through right now, everything is imbued with significance, every detail, and he has planned it all. No need for pageantry. No need for pomp and circumstance. No need to be dressed up with ostentatious displays of human wealth, earthly power. His coronation procession, it does what it’s designed to do. To draw attention to truth, to meaning, to significance of a divinely ordained regality for all who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

So that brings us to a second point for our outline this morning. Number two the Lord is humble. The Lord is humble. Though he be regal, he is yet humble. Let’s look again at those verses, Luke 19:28, I’ll read this time just through verse 34. “When he had said these things, he went on ahead going up to Jerusalem. And when he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples saying, ‘Go into the village in front of you. Where entering you will find a colt tied on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it,’ you shall say this, ‘The Lord has need of it.’ So those who were sent went away, found it just as he had told them, and as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ And they said ‘the Lord has need of it.’” We’ll stop there.

As we read that section and it’s, it’s very similar if you read all the different Gospel accounts, especially the synoptic accounts, Matthew, Mark and Luke. But we noticed in that section that the writers give a relatively significant amount of space to show Jesus procuring an animal. To see the king commandeering the foal of a donkey for his royal purposes.

Lot of detail given to that. Lot of mention of tying and untying the animal. Lot of attention on this donkey’s offspring. What none of the accounts tell us, though, are the names of the two disciples whom Jesus sent to retrieve the colt. They’re unknown, and that doesn’t prevent some commentators from being very eager to fill in the names for us and tell us, even though we don’t know it. They tell us the two disciples are, guess who? Peter and John, right?

Truth is, we just don’t know. And that is intentional. We’re not supposed to focus on those two disciples. Precise location of the colt. That detail too, is also vague and unknown. It’s just the village in front of you. If the name of the village was known, you know what? We’d have the “Church of the Holy Donkey” sitting in Jerusalem. We’ve all got to go there and buy expensive artifacts, and all that stuff.

That’s not known. Names of the owners of the colt. They’re also unknown to us. We can see from verse 34 and then from corroborating evidence that comes from Matthew 21:3, Mark 11:6, we can have, I think, reason, probable cause to see that the owners probably knew Jesus. They probably knew him, knew of him, maybe even disciples of his, but living in that area, and they’re eager to provide him with whatever support he asked of them. But As for the names of the owners, unimportant as well.

None of the three synoptic writers provide their names. So Luke, along with Matthew and Mark, the other two synoptic Gospel writers, they want us to not focus our attention on those details. They want us to give our attention and our focus to something else. And what is that?

Quite simply, they want us to see that the Lord is intent on getting a colt. OK, got that? He wants to get a donkey, the young offspring of a donkey, a foal that has never been sat upon. That’s it.

That is what we’re supposed to see, consider, and reflect upon. So let that be the subject of your daily devotions for the rest of the week. Think about this. Let me help you with that a little bit.

It may seem like a rather mundane and kind of a pedestrian detail at first glance, but I promise you, this section reveals such a profound insight into the humility of our Lord’s character. And notice I keep referring to Jesus here as Lord. And that’s intentional because that is the way that he is identified in the text.

You can see there in verse 31, he is called the Lord, he is called kyrios, even what has been translated into our English Bible as pronouns. The word he, the word he, those pronouns are actually not explicit in the Greek text, they’re contained in the verb forms. So you have to discern that it’s he that we’re talking about. And the first explicit reference to Jesus in the text is not by his name, it’s not with a pronoun, it’s by a title, kyrios, which means Lord. There’s an emphasis here on lordship.

And the emphasis on lordship we can see is further strengthened by the verbs that are used and the verbs drive the meaning to show his lordship, to show his leadership initiative, to show him taking action here, revealing and exposing his lordship, his in-chargeness. It’s not a word, just made it up. But, starting in verse 28, notice the emphasis, so the revelation of his lordship, it says in verse 28, he went on ahead. He goes on ahead. He takes the lead.

Remember where he is in Jericho? Everybody would love him to stay in Jericho for a little while longer. No, he leaves and he takes the lead. He goes out in front heading up to Jerusalem. In verse 29 it says, here’s an active verb again, he sent two of the disciples. He sends them. Shows he’s in charge. He’s exercising authority. He’s telling them what to do.

There are two imperatives in verse 30. Notice go, and then bring. Go and bring. And if we add the participle of attendant circumstance, that acts like a third verb or a third imperative, a command. Go, untie and bring. He’s commanding everybody. He’s telling everybody what to do.

Then in verse 31, “If anyone asks you ‘Why are you untying it,’ you shall say this.” There’s a future tense use there, “You shall say.” And that future tense there is being used as a very strong imperative. That’s the sense. So these disciples, when they’re challenged by the owners about untying the colt, they are to say this, and they are to say exactly this, no more, no less. Which is actually what we see.

They say exactly that. They get the sense of the very strong imperative. You shall say this. They say no more, and I they say no less. The Lord has need of it. That answer is enough. That answer silences any challenge, overcomes any obstacle to them completing their task. It’s the end of the matter.

And then what Jesus prophetically anticipated that actually does happen, as we said verse 33, “As they’re untying the colt, its owners said to them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’” There he is showing the competency of his lordship. The, the insight and the knowledge he has and his right to be the Lord and tell us what to do because he knows everything.

By the way, English translations say owners there in the verse, the Greek is actually hoykuriyoi. Which is the plural of hakyrios. So it can mean owner, and it does mean owner in this context. But when it’s set against the lordship of Christ, we see a clear subordination of the rights and the authority of these lords as property owners, in contrast to the supreme right of the sovereign Lord. His authority, his initiative, his interests outweigh theirs. Even overcomes what is a legitimate right of ownership for them.

Then we see as we said verse 34, the disciples said as the Lord instructed them, no more, no less, “The Lord has need of it.” Done, no argument, narrative continues. I am drawing that out to make the point. The lordship of Christ is being emphasized here.

But when we stop to consider the lordship of Christ, and reflect on this, and the kind of lordship that it is, there’s another thought that hits us, it should hit us with force and with clarity. And it’s actually a question. What in the world is the sovereign Lord doing arranging his own transportation? Isn’t that bit beneath his pay grade?

It’s kind of like me calling up the President to come fix a pothole on my street. Doesn’t he have more important things to do? Isn’t that arranging his own transportation a bit below his station? You think King Charles III made a bunch of phone calls to arrange his transportation so he could get to and from his own coronation? Not a chance.

In fact, if he did pick up the phone and try to do that kind of thing, the royal entourage around and would be absolutely appalled. They’d consider such a thing on his part to be an outrage, reflecting poorly on them. An abject failure on their part to do their duty. The king of England busying himself with such mundane matters as transportation?

But Jesus doesn’t have a royal entourage, does he? What does he have? Ragtag bunch of disciples, peasants around him? He didn’t have a retinue of knowledgeable, competent servants surrounding him. His twelve closest men, even they, knowing the messianic secret that they’ve been keeping, even they don’t understand what’s going on here. Even they are unable to make, it’s not just that they’re unwilling, they’d be willing in a heartbeat to go and get a animal for him. In fact, two disciples do. They’re unable to make the arrangements. They don’t have it within them. They don’t understand what’s going on. So of course it’s got to be him.

And so though Jesus, though he is Lord of all, he prepares his own transportation. He makes provision for himself. He does this detail after detail after detail. As we read earlier in the service in Isaiah 59:16, he saw that there was no man. He wondered that there was no one to intercede, and so his own arm brought him salvation and his own righteousness upheld him. “I’ll get it done myself.”

So as we move through the text. Not just in the next few weeks, but all the way to the cross, we notice how Jesus as Lord, he does what no one can do. And by that I mean, emphasis on, no one can. They are unable. They don’t know, they don’t understand, they don’t see, they don’t discern. They don’t have it in them to understand it. Why? Because everything about his first advent, his suffering and his death on the cross is a mystery that’s been hidden for ages past. Which is now going to be revealed in real time. How are they possibly supposed to understand it?

The Lord knows that. He’s humble, he does, steps in, does what no one can do. He directs everything. He’s clearly the Lord here. He’s the one in charge. He’s the one who is in command. He’s directing everything. He’s making use of everything to accomplish his own ends.

There is no way whatsoever that he will fail to do so. There’s no way that he will fail to accomplish what he came to Jerusalem to do, which is to die for the sins of his people, to win eternal salvation for them, and having done all, than to ascend to the throne that his Father has given to him. So that said, because he is the only one who gets it, he is going to take up and do everything for himself. There is a true and genuine regality here and yet at the same time there is an amazing humility.

Thirdly, the Lord is intentional. The Lord is intentional. He is regal, he is humble, and the Lord is intentional. Give you a few sub points to jot down just to keep this point clear. Sub point A, just notice he’s intentional by taking the lead. He’s intentional by taking the lead. Just another look at verse 28. “When he said these things, he went on ahead and going up to Jerusalem.” His intentionality starts right there and how he finishes his journey.

He leaves Jericho, heads up to Jerusalem and he’s out in front. He’s at the head of the pack. He is outpacing everyone else. They’ve got to try to keep up with him. He’s so eager to get there. Sub point A, he’s intentional by taking the lead.

Sub point B, he’s intentional by setting priorities. He’s intentional, sub point B, by setting priorities. You can see this just to the first part of verse 29 says, “When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet.” Okay, we’ll stop there.

Luke narrates this from the perspective of Jesus and his disciples who are arriving from Jericho. They’re approaching Jerusalem from the east, they go from east to west. They approach Jerusalem and before they get to Jerusalem. Before they can even see Jerusalem in the city, they are on the outskirts of the city of Jerusalem and there is a district known as Bethphage. And the very first village that they come to in Bethphage, the district of Bethphage is Bethany.

Not a lot is known about Bethphage. The name, the name actually means house of unripe figs, house of unripe figs. There are no references to any Bethphage in the Old Testament, so we find no help there in identifying the place or the location. The Talmud though refers to Bethphage several times and refers to it as a district. So if there was a village with that name, the location it’s not known today, not able to locate it today.

Again in the Talmud, Bethphage was something like a district, maybe a precinct of Jerusalem, but it started at Jerusalem was kind of the eastern part of that area. So think of maybe, we think of cities and urban areas, and then we talk about suburbs, suburban areas. You could think of this as a suburb of Jerusalem.

Extended eastward beyond to the Mount of Olives, over the Mount of Olives and beyond the Mount of Olives all the way to the little village of Bethany. So likely that Luke is describing Jesus and the disciples here arriving in Bethphage. And the very first village of Bethphage is Bethany, and Bethany means house of figs. So is that there’s the House of unripe figs, and then there’s Bethany, the place where the figs are ripe.

All right, so we got Bethphage, house of unripe figs, and Bethany, house of figs. And then we got the Mount of Olives, which has on it olives, I presume. Agrarian names, right from the perspective of those who’d lived in Jerusalem. They look out to the land of the East, and they identify that region with things that they really enjoy, things that they really need. Olives, olive oil, figs refreshment.

So as Jesus comes into Bethany, he’s within two miles of Jerusalem, and at this point in verse 29, he’s not yet within sight of Jerusalem. Bethany is east of Jerusalem, and it’s separated actually by the Mount of Olives. And the Mount of Olives is actually not just a single mount or pinnacle. It’s actually a ridge that runs north and south for about two miles, about one hundred feet higher than Jerusalem. So they can’t see Jerusalem when they come to Bethany.

According to John 12 and verse 1, Jesus arrived in Bethany six days before the Passover, which means he arrived in Bethany on a Friday, the day before the Sabbath. He arrived in Bethany on a Friday exactly one week before his crucifixion. In fact, scholars they’re pretty certain about the date of this.

Since the crucifixion was on April 3rd of A.D. 33, Jesus arrived in Bethany the previous Friday, March 27th, A.D. 33. So you asked, why is this so important? Why are you telling us all this? How does it show us intentionality? So glad you asked.

About a, three weeks earlier than the scene before us, Jesus and his disciples, they were in Bethany according to John 11. Remember what happened in John 11? Remember the miracle that Jesus performed in John 11? He raised Lazarus from the dead. He told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he die, yet will he live.”

You might think that raising Lazarus from the dead won Jesus everlasting favor with everyone. You would have think that the Jews would have given Jesus the proverbial key to the city. Never let him buy a meal again. Well, we see, according to John 11, that the people, common people loved him. It’s exactly the way it was for them. But for the Jewish leaders, for the chief priests and the Pharisees, they demanded a meeting be organized with the Sanhedrin to discuss, to discuss the problem of Jesus.

In fact, if you would go ahead and turn over to John 11. Just so you can see this for yourself. John 11 and verse 45. I’ve got a few things to show you here. Jesus, after he raised his friend Lazarus from the dead, in John 11 you can see 43 and 44. It says there in verse 45 that many of the Jews, therefore, who had come with Mary had seen what he did. They believed in him. Many of the Jews believed in him. They’re rejoicing. They celebrate him. So excited.

Some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priest in the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we going to do for this man performs many signs.” Can I insert an idea here? Drop on your knees before him, bow at his feet and worship him. That’d be a good idea. Maybe that’s what you could do.

Not to be. Instead, they say, “If we let him go on like this,” look at the hubris, if we let him. Are you kidding me? Do they? Do they know what they are? Little limited human beings. He just raised the dead. You think you’re going to allow him or not allow him something? If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.

We see their agenda. Hold on to the, the little bit of power and authority that the Romans have remanded to us. Keep our overlords happy. Keep our slave masters happy so that we can keep our sense of our own authority, our own liberty.

How many sinners do you know like that today? They don’t want to let go or relinquish their own sense of liberty. And so they want to stay enslaved to their sins, enslaved to their evil, enslaved to the whole, the world, the flesh and the devil. All that’s destroying them. They want to stay enslaved to it, shackled to it. They can have a sense of I’m in charge, nothing’s changed.

Let’s skip past the pragmatic reasoning of Caiaphas and take a look down at, “So from that day on, they made plans to put him to death. Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but he went from there to the region, near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim. And there he stayed with his disciples.”

What is he afraid? Is Jesus on the run? Has the warrant for his arrest and his execution caused him to cower and turn tail and run? Not at all. He knows though, it’s not his time, he can’t be killed three weeks earlier. He must be killed, put to death on the Friday, the day of preparation, the day when the Passover lamb is sacrificed. Why? Because he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Can’t be a week earlier, can’t be three weeks earlier, can’t be one day earlier. Got to be on April 3rd of A.D. 33. So he’s timed it.

You know what Jesus would have liked to have done after raising his friend Lazarus from the dead? Like to have stuck around. He would prefer to stay right there in Bethany, hang out with his resurrected friend Lazarus. Lazarus’s two sisters, Mary and Martha, whom he loved. He would have enjoyed their hospitality, their company.

But knowing the threat and knowing that dying then would have been premature, not on the divine timetable, Jesus moved on, he left. And as a result, we have the benefit of everything we have studied from Luke 17:11, all the way to this very moment, all that section happened from the time he left, went up to that place in Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.

All that to say, in the intervening time, as Jesus has been through Judea, Perea, come down to Jericho, he’s been missing his friends, he’s been missing their company, the warm hospitality of a warm home in Bethany. Home cooked meal, enjoy their company, rejoice in their friendship.

And so we see in John 11:53 and following they made their plans. It says the Jews made their plans to put him to death. “Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews. He went from there to the region, near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples. Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand. [So skipping ahead a few weeks] many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves.”

So Jerusalem, the city of Jerusalem is swollen with numbers, crowds, pilgrims coming to the Passover feast. They’re look, the Jews are looking for Jesus. They’re saying to one another as they stood in the Temple, “Well, what do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?”

“Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where Jesus was, he should let them know so that they might arrest him.” Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead, and so they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at the table.

There is so much to see there, especially if we were to keep on reading, but we’re going to have to content ourselves with this. Jesus has been missing his friend. He’s been separated for a time, and now he’s back. Now he’s in his company. Now he’s enjoying his fellowship and his friendship.

The dinner was not at their home exactly. It was actually at another home in Bethany. Matthew 26:6, and Mark 14:3 say they were in the house of Simon the leper. Jesus, had evidently cleansed him of leprosy, and now he’s a disciple. Jesus, though he eagerly anticipated seeing Lazarus, Martha, Mary, if you could possibly imagine this being only one week from the gruesome reality and the awful loneliness of the cross, as all of his disciples leave him, he’s hungry for their friendship here.

 He’s longing for the close intimacy of their company, of their fellowship. And yet we read, go back to Luke 19:29, we read in Luke 19:29, he is undeterred from his mission even as he comes to the place, comes to Bethany. He is focused. He’s intentional. He’s setting above his own desires and his human longings, he sets priorities.

Luke 19:29 says, “He drew near to Bethphage, and Bethany at the mount that’s called Olivet, and when he drew near there, he sent two of the disciples. [He takes care of business first] ‘Go into the village in front of you, [and why,] were entering you’ll find a colt tied on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it. Bring it here.’”

He arrives on that Friday before spending any time with his friends before taking in his Sabbath rest with them on the following day. He’s intentional. He makes preparations. He sets priorities. So intentional by taking the lead. Intentional by setting priorities and taking care of business first. That’s sub point A. Sub point B.

Here’s sub point C, final one. He’s intentional by selecting the symbols. He’s intentional by selecting the symbols. Up to this point, we know that Jesus has traveled everywhere, been content to travel everywhere by foot. He’s walked everywhere he’s gone. He’s an itinerant peripatetic preacher, peripatetic meaning walking around. He walks everywhere. Hardy, strong, powerful. He’s got his walking legs on. He’s worn out, some walking sandals, several pairs.

But now, for this occasion, Jesus selects a very particular mode of transportation. He selects an animal. Not just any animal, but one that will symbolize his messiahship. Selects a beast of burden, a donkey. Further, it’s the foal of a donkey, and even further, it’s a colt, one on which no one has ever yet sat.

OK, so why? Why does he select this particular mode of transportation? Broadly speaking, it’s because he intends to fulfill Scripture. More specifically, it’s because in fulfilling Scripture, each and every element of his selection is symbolic. We’re going to see some of this today. More of this in the coming weeks. A donkey.

Just very quickly, kind of unlike our image and view of a donkey today, our sophomoric age, donkeys symbolize stupidity and thanks to be to the cartoons that always portray donkeys in a very unfavorable light. But in the ancient near East, donkeys and mules were very highly regarded, highly regarded. Meryl Unger writes this, “Donkeys are spoken of in connection with the history of Pharaoh, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and most notable persons mentioned in the Old Testament. There was nothing in any sense degrading in the idea of riding a donkey, as might be perhaps inferred from Zechariah 9:9 [which we’ve quoted]. It was the sign of the peaceful mission of Christ [and we’re going to get to that]. Kings, high priests, judges and the richest people of ancient and modern times have ridden on donkeys. Many donkeys of Damascus, Baghdad, Aleppo, Cairo, Cyprus and other parts of the east are beautiful animals, very easy in gait, perfectly sure footed. They often cost very high prices and are adorned with magnificent caparison. Caparison is a ornamental covering spread over the saddle of the harness.” End Quote.

Jesus selects a very particular mode of transportation. He selects an animal. Not just any animal, but one that will symbolize his messiahship.”

Travis Allen

So Jesus chose a donkey. He chooses the colt of a donkey and broadly speaking it’s because he intended to fulfill Scripture. We can start with Genesis 49:10, Genesis 49:10. That’s Jacob’s prophecy about Jesus’ tribe, which is the tribe of Judah. Jacob says there the scepter, the royal scepter, “shall not depart from Judah nor the rulers staff between his feet. Until tribute comes to him, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples, the obedience of the nations, binding his foal to the vine, his donkey’s colt to the choice vine. He has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes.”

Prophecy is fulfilled ultimately, we know in the millennial Kingdom, but for, for sure, but notice the foal, the donkey’s colt, it’s chosen the vessel for transporting the king from the tribe of Judah and the choice of this particular donkey’s colt. It has to be one on which no one has ever yet sat. Why is that? It’s the principle of things dedicated to the Lord that was just set apart for a holy purpose cannot have been used before for any other purpose, it’s singled out. That Jesus selected a young colt, the foal of a donkey, one that had never been put to work for any other use, any other purpose. This is his choice. It’s an animal fit for a king.

Can’t help but notice that Jesus is born into the world through the virgin womb, one that had never given birth. He’d be buried in a new unused tomb, one that had never held a body. And keeping with the same level of intentionality shown by his Father, by the Holy Spirit in his birth and would show in his death, Jesus too is intentional.

He selects the specific animal, the one that should carry him along his coronation procession. One that’s yet unused, one that is ready, useful to carry a holy burden. The chief prophecy that Jesus intended to fulfill, and be sure to write this down if you haven’t already. It’s Zechariah 9:9. Zechariah 9:9, which says, “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.”

From what we read in verses 36 to 38, no one missed that point. Everyone in the crowd saw the symbolism as fitting, and they said, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” They got it. So our Lord is intentional about getting to Jerusalem, finishing his course. He’s intentional about taking care of business before he rests in Bethany. He’s intentional to secure his transportation, and in particular, it’s got to be a colt. It’s got to be the foal of a donkey, one on which no one has ever yet sat.

Well, our time is gone for now, and I hate to break this off mid-course because there’s so much more to see. So we have more observations to make. We’ll save those for next week. But let me close a brief comment about application.

What application should we find in a text like this one? Should we consider the obedience of the disciples and do what they do? When he tells us go, go. And when he says say this, we say that? No more, no less? Sure. We should do that.

Should we reflect on the subordination of Lords and owners of the colt? That though we are property owners, and though we have things, we really have them as a stewardship to use for his purposes? Sure, that’s valid. We should freely give whatever Jesus asked of us.

But the point of a coronation procession it’s to try to get a, a glimpse and a look at the incoming king. I mean, if we just get a glimpse of that king passing by. When Melinda and I were in London some years ago, we visited Buckingham Palace, along with many of the spots that were along the procession route.

The Mall, Saint James Park, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace. I had to leave from there, go to a meeting, but Melinda was with a friend near the gate of Buckingham Palace and there was a black Rolls Royce that pulled through the gate, opened the gate, black Rolls Royce pulls through.

Through the tinted window she saw somebody very important in that black Rolls Royce. She approached the gate, which was still open at the time, and one of the police guards came near. And you never know, I mean five foot two woman might be a terrorist up to no good at all, might be hiding something in that purse of hers, this mountain of a man who was towering over her up at about six foot five or higher and just huge.

Melinda asked him, “Who was that?” He said, “That was the Prince Mum.” It was then Prince Charles who was yesterday crowned King Charles. She only got a glimpse as he passed by and through tinted windows. People along the procession route yesterday for the coronation, they only got a fleeting look as the king and the queen passed by in royal carriages.

Our Lord comes to us as a king who is righteous. Who has salvation. And he comes to us humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt the foal of a donkey. And as he goes by, he slows down. He wants us to look, he wants us to take notice. There’s nothing separating him between where he is positioned on that foal and where all the people are along the route.

It’s his humility that took this king to the cross. What mere human king do we know besides him? What mere human king dies for his people? People die for kings, not the other way around. And why do they die for kings? Because kings are mortal and they don’t want to lose someone like that. Someone with the competency and the knowledge and the, the wealth and the power and the authority to command nations. So they put their body on the line for someone like that.

But our king, he comes humble and he comes dying for us. He does what we can’t do for ourselves. He came to die for our sins. And unlike any mortal king, this one died and passed through death. He conquered death, and he’s risen from the grave, and he walked out of the tomb in which he was placed.

For forty days he appeared to his disciples, appeared to his people, he was rejoiced and celebrated by them. And then he ascended into heaven. That’s where he is now, bodily, at the Father’s right hand, caring for you and me. He’s doing what no one can do. He serves his people. He serves us even now, even today.

So yeah, he comes, and along his procession, he invites us to take a look. To take a good long look. He doesn’t mind if we stare. He wants us to stare, to see him so that we might truly know him as he really is. And that by the help of the Holy Spirit, the one who rejoices in his role of revealing Christ to us, that’s what we intend to do in the coming weeks. That’s the point of this text. That’s really the key application I think we need to make, don’t you?

Let’s pray. What a joy it is ours, Father, that you have given us that we would behold the king in all of his glory. He’s not hidden behind tinted windows or bulletproof glass. He’s not covered in gems and gold and robes and ostentatious displays of wealth and power. He’s not surrounded by armies. He comes in simplicity and humility. And what a power and a boldness we see as he goes back into the very city where the leaders of that city are intent on killing him, and he says the very things and does the very things that will fan into flame their murderous intent. And yet all of this designed to fulfill your salvation purposes, to reveal your wisdom, to reveal your decree.

That nothing can stop what you have intended to do from before the foundation of the world. Our Father, we thank you so much. We’re caught up in the story that you have granted to us in Him an eternal salvation and the opportunity for all of eternity. To gaze on his glory, to see the beauty of his majesty and be reconciled to you. And I pray that there would be no heart here who is hardened against this story, that you would soften every heart. Save and sanctify your people. Let us be willing and eager to serve our king. In his name we pray. Amen.