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“The Gentle and Just King”

Matthew 21:1-17
Mike Bauer
April 9, 2006

Key Sentence

Jesus is a gentle and patient king, but He will bring judgment when it is time.


I. The Gentle King (Matthew 21:1-11)
II. The Just King (Matthew 21:12-13)


        One of my favorite teachers in High School was my Spanish teacher. He really connected with the students. He really cared for the students. Plus, he was the only teacher in my school who gave a reward for learning. He gave us candy. We played games in class in order to learn Spanish vocabulary. Learning was fun. Now some kids in the class tried to take advantage of the patience of our teacher. So at times he brought down the hammer to bring the class in control.

Raise your hand if you have ever had a teacher in School or church like that? Just as my Spanish teach was gentle and just so was King Jesus.

On this Palm Sunday we are going to look at the passage of Scripture that described Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem just one week before He would be crucified and then rise again on the third day. We will see that our Risen King is a Gentle King, but He also is a Just King. We will see a balanced view of who Jesus really is.

Our view of God, who He is and His attributes, radically affects how we approach life. Often, we view God only as a gentle grandfather who rocks in His rocking chair and gives candy to everyone who wants some. In contrast, others view God only as a stern father who always barks out commands and enjoys taking his children to the woodshed for a good beating.

When we have a distorted view of Jesus we live distorted lives. If we have a gentle grandfather view of Jesus we don’t take our sin serious enough. If we have a stern father view of Jesus we don’t accept God’s grace or we try to hide from Jesus. Honestly, how do you view Jesus?

We will walk along with Jesus this morning down the road of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We will step into the sandals of one of his disciples and we gaze upon the gentle King riding on the colt of donkey. Then we will step into the sandals of the moneychangers in the temple. We will fear and tremble at the righteous anger of the just King. While walking these sandals we will also journey back into Old Testament stories and ahead into New Testament stories to experience some more of our gentle and just King.

Let’s turn and read Matthew 21:1-3
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away."

Imagine that you are one of the disciples. You have spent over three years with Jesus you have seen him calm an angry sea. You have seen him touch a blind man’s eyes and give him sight. You have seen Jesus yell to a dead man and the man walk out of his tomb. Jesus has awed and amazed you. Now Jesus tells you to go ahead to the next village and untie someone else’s donkey and her colt. So you walk up to another man’s donkey and colt and untie them. Then you are asked, “What are you doing?” When you respond, “the Lord needs them” the stranger just says, “ok.” You are awed once again.

Do you feel the sense of wonder that the disciples must have felt? But did you also feel a sense of amazement that Jesus rode humbly on a donkey for his kingly procession? Why would you be amazed? The reason is that it would seem unnatural for the Messiah, the Savior, and the King to ride on a colt of a donkey on his kingly procession into Jerusalem. Why didn’t he ride on a horse like a great warrior, or on a wheeled chariot with a crown or a sword? At the time the disciples did not understand. Let’s read John 12:14-16

John 12:14-16
Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written,
"Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion;
        see, your king is coming,
        seated on a donkey's colt."

At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.

So at the time the disciples were amazed and perplexed. This is not what they expected. They were waiting for the just King to squash the Romans and to set-up His rule over Jerusalem.        

Now let’s read Matthew’s quote of  Zechariah 9:9

    This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
   5"Say to the Daughter of Zion,
        'See, your king comes to you,
    gentle and riding on a donkey,
        on a colt, the foal of a donkey.' "

Matthew realized the prophetic fulfillment after Jesus rose from the dead. He understood that Jesus’ first coming fulfilled the prophecy of the Messiah coming in a gentle and humble manner. The Greek word “praus” means gentle, humble, or meek. And this fit with the image of Jesus riding on the colt of a donkey.

Many of you are familiar with Chuck Swindoll. Chuck Swindoll was the pastor of large evangelical church in California. Then he became the president of Dallas Seminary, remember that’s where I went to seminary and pastor Bob did not. He has written over 50 books. For many Christians he has become a household name. Although I never talked to him I have been told that he is humble. He still talks with, laughs with, and loves the common folk. God the Son, Jesus Christ, has always been powerful and mighty. Yet he still is humble and gentle with the common folk. Are you glad for that?

Now step back into the sandals of the disciples. Yet put out of you mind any of this knowledge that Matthew has given us. You still are amazed and a little perplexed. Let’s read the rest of the account from Matthew.

Matthew 21:6-11
The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

    "Hosanna to the Son of David!"
    "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
    "Hosanna in the highest!"

 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?"
 The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."

So you place a cloak on the mother donkey and on the colt. When you place the cloak on the colt you feel a little embarrassed. You think to yourself, “I followed Jesus these three years. I witnessed His miracles. I know He is the Messiah, the anointed One of God. He is finally going public to let people know He is the king. I wonder why He is going to ride this puny and silly little colt?”

Yet at any rate you know He is the Messiah. So you shout along with the crowd “Hosanna,” which means “save now.” You yell at the top of your lungs “Hosanna to the Son of David” from Psalm 118—the words from the Old Testament that speak of the coming Messiah. You feel the fervor and excitement in the crowd so much that you feel the adrenaline rush. Your chest is thumping and you can’t wait for Jesus to crush the Romans. You can’t want for the promised just King. Yet as you are yelling, occasionally you have the nagging thoughts of the lowly colt, the humility of the Jesus.

Then your mind runs through the judgment stories of the Old Testament. You see the flood in Noah’s day engulfing the evildoers, the ten plagues ravaging Pharaoh and Egypt, the judges given power from God to smite Israel’s enemies, and the angel of the Lord killing 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. Now you are roused again at the thought of the just King trouncing Israel’s enemies. However, you forget to think of the Old Testament stories of God’s gentleness. You forgot about God’s grace and mercy towards the sins of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You did not consider God’s mercy on Israel by not completely destroying them in the desert or in the promise land. You forgot about God’s gentleness shown to David when he sinned with Bathsheba.

I put us in the disciple’s sandals because that is the way we think sometimes. We want God to bring judgment upon the wicked, but of course not on us. We hope that Osama Bin Laden is killed and goes to Hell. We never pray for him. We hope for God to judge the ornery family member, co-worker, or fellow churchgoer. Sometimes we parent like this. We parent with only justice, punishment, and no love and gentleness.

Jesus was perfectly balanced in His gentleness and justness. We will see his justness in the next few verses. He has perfect wisdom to decide when and how much gentleness or justice to use.

Admittedly, I do not understand why God sometimes judges so swiftly and at other times shows grace upon grace. Why does God not judge the persecutors of the Sudanese Christians? Why does God keep showing grace to America with all her sins?

But I try to remember the words form Deut. 29:29: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to use and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of the law.”

So, how balanced is your view of the Risen Jesus? Do you have enough room for His gentleness? For His justice?

Furthermore, how does that view show up in your friendships? Parenting? At your workplace?

May God by the power of the Holy Spirit grant us the wisdom and the power have a balanced view of Jesus.

Now let’s transition to the next story that reveals the justice of King Jesus.

Matthew 21:12-13
Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the benches of those selling doves. 13"It is written," he said to them, " 'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers.'"

This is probably the same day as His triumphal entry. So, Jesus went into the temple and threw out the moneychangers. According to the Mosaic Law the Jews were required to pay a temple tax. So in order to get the temple currency these moneychangers provided temple currency that the pilgrim could exchange for. It appears that the moneychangers were price gouging.

How many here have ever felt like they have been price gouged at airports? Did anyone here experience price gouging after hurricane Rita? Well, that is probably why Jesus called these people “thieves.” They were robbing people who were vulnerable.

Now imagine you are one of the moneychangers. You are buying and selling while seated at your chair behind your table. In comes this man from nowhere and in anger throws over your table. Scattered across the floor are all your coins. You see the anger written all over His face. His irritated voice fills up your ears. Now you stand up to yell an obscenity at Him when he kicks your chair across the temple floor. At that moment fear grips your heart as He comes toward you. So, you decide not to fight back, but to flee and run away out of the temple.

When you go outside you are fuming mad and scared at the same time. All that you worked for today is strewn across the temple floor. You say to yourself, “How can this madman do this? He has no right to do this. This is an outrage.”

I put us in the moneychangers’ sandals this time to experience what sometimes we think and feel. Sometimes we think God’s anger is out of control. But in the other cleansing of the temple in John 2 is says Jesus made the whip before He drove them out. He did not “blow a gasket.”

Sometimes we think that God is too harsh.  We don’t like it when God brings His hand of discipline on our lives. We say to ourselves, “I thought the God of the New Testament was the God of grace. God doesn’t judge people the way He used to.” My response to that thought is God is the God of gentleness and justice in both the Old and New Testament. He did not have a personality change. Although it is true that when Jesus came He came with grace piled up on more grace. Let’s read John 1:16:

John 1:16
For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.

So, we benefit from living in this age of grace. But that will end when Jesus brings His wrath upon the world in the future seven year tribulation. His wrath will come upon the wicked. Furthermore, don’t think that the Risen Jesus will not give justice and discipline to His children. Don’t lose all your fear of God. Certainly, as a believer, you can lose the fear that God is going to send you to Hell. Jesus said in John 10:28 that holds all believers in His hand forever and will not let them go. Yet He does judge and discipline in love His children who trample on His blood shed for them. We see this from the writer of the book of Hebrews who warns the believers of God’s loving discipline in their lives.

Hebrews 12:5-6, 28-29
    and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
            "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
            Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
            For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
            And He scourges every son whom He receives."

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.

We live in a culture that makes God into the gentle grandfather rocking in His rocking chair. Our culture often influences us. So, have you lost a healthy fear of our Risen King? Do you hold on to an ongoing sin because you have lost reverence for the Risen King?

Thankfully our Risen King does shower grace on the humble and the soft hearted. Let’s read Matt. 21: 14-17.

Matthew 21:14-17
And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they became indignant and said to Him, "Do You hear what these children 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 for Yourself'?" And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

For a second put yourself in the sandals of one of the little children. You see a blind woman shout for joy when she sees the face of Jesus for the first time. Then you see a lame man leap for joy as he hugs Jesus. At the same time you hear “shhh” and “be quiet” from the religious leaders. Yet you don’t care about the religious leaders. So you yell until it hurts your throat. You yell “Save us now, Son of David!”

Do you see the contrast between the proud elite and the humble in this text? The blind and lame come to Jesus in faith and humility so they receive His gentleness and compassion. The children shout out praise to the King. They will receive gentleness. In contrast, if the proud elite do not have a change of heart and believe they will receive strong justice.

Is there someone here this morning who still has a hard heart? You will not humbly trust in Jesus to save you. You won’t even take a closer look and investigate the Bible. And maybe the little children around you who shout praise to Jesus irritate you. Please, take a closer look at Jesus before His patience ends and His judgment begins.

This morning we have seen our Risen King is both gentle and just. For the humble and believing he rides on a lowly colt. He is ready to pile grace upon grace. For the proud and elite He is slow to anger. But the slowness of His anger has a finish line.

I challenge you this Passion week, be a blind man, be a lame woman, and be a shouting child. Pray more. Praise fervently. Confess your sin. Dive into God’s Word. Encourage a fellow believer. Share boldly with others the Risen King. Experience the Gentle King.