By Charles D. Earl
Former Director of Missions, Holston Valley Baptist Assoc., Rogersville
Our text for this fourth lesson in a series of 13 is the first 11 verses of Matthew 21, and the subject is “More than a Prophet?” As we study the world’s religions we find that many of them acknowledge Christ as a great prophet. Judaism, Islam, and several others admit that Christ was a great prophet and have admiration and respect for Him. But those of us who know Him and claim Him as Savior know that He is more, far more than just a great prophet. We know He is Jesus Christ, Son of the living God. We know Him as our Lord and Savior.
This lesson begins with Jesus and His disciples nearing the little insignificant town of Bethphage, which is near the Mount of Olives. Jesus selects two of His disciples and gives them specific instructions about making preparations for His triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem. In verse five Jesus tells them they will find a man there with a donkey and a colt, and they are to tell the man “the Lord has need of them.” Evidently, without any question, the man releases them to the two disciples. When the disciples arrive with the donkey and colt they begin to make Christ a saddle by using clothes.
By simply closing our eyes it isn’t difficult for us to recreate the following scene. Jesus seats Himself on the donkey and begins the ride into town. The people go wild with excitement and begin shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” The people shout until they are hoarse. They throw their coats in His path and begin strewing palm leaves in the way and praising God as Jesus approaches the Holy City of Jerusalem. When He reaches the entrance into the city the people announce who He is, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”
When our Lord reaches the city it is soon discovered the reason for which He came! He enters the temple and begins the task of cleansing the temple of the money changers. Not only were the money changers upset, also upset were those who were buying and selling inferior, diseased animals for sacrifice. This really upsets the scribes and the Pharisees. But the Bible tells us in verse 11 that the multitudes proclaimed Him as “… the prophet from Nazareth.”
These verses prepare us for that which is to follow in the next phase of the ministry of Jesus. In fact, He has several ministry activities after cleansing the temple. He continues to heal more people and preach more sermons, but this triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem sets the stage for the trial, the scourging, and the crucifixion of Jesus which happen in rapid succession. It seems that Jesus was very aware of the actions He takes in the verses of our text. He knew what He did before, during, and after what He did in His triumphal entry and His cleansing of the temple would set in motion that which was to follow. Let us make sure we give Him thanks for all He did for us. Praise His holy name!