Red Letter Year: 5/10

Matthew 21:1-17

When they came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem, Jesus told two disciples, “Go into that village 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, say that the Lord needs them and he will send them immediately.”

This happened to fulfill what was said by the prophet: “Tell to the daughter of Zion, ‘Look, your King is coming to you, humble, riding on a donkey and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples did as Jesus directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, put their cloaks on them, 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. The crowds went before him and followed him shouting, “God save the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! God save the whole world!”

10 As he entered Jerusalem, the entire city quaked, asking, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds replied, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee.”

12 Jesus entered the Temple and threw out all who bought and sold in the Temple. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves.13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are are making it into a hideout for thieves!”

14 The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the senior pastors and Bible teachers observed the miracles he did and heard the children in the Temple singing, “God save the Son of David,” they were furious 16 and said to him, “Do you hear what they are saying?”

Jesus replied, “Yes. Have you never read that, ‘out of mouths of toddlers and babies you have gotten the best praise of all?’” 17 Then he left them and went out of the city to Bethany and spent the night there.


A few things to note about this passage:

  • Jesus enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey, not a war horse. This was a deliberate move to show his entrance was humble, peaceful, the opposite of what a conquering hero would do.
  • Matthew accentuates this peaceful entry by leaving out phrases from Zech. 9.9 that talk about a “triumphant and victorious” appearance. Despite how we have come to label it, this was not a triumphal entry, it was a humble entry. He does accept the praise of the people as a king would, but he does so as a humble king.
  • Jesus continues in this mode even as he clears the Temple. We tend to think of the Temple clearing scene as Jesus kicking some butt, but if you read it carefully, he rearranges the furniture of his house, he does not lay a hand on anyone. He does exhibit authority – he calls the Temple “my house” but even here Jesus is acting as just the sort of serving leader the previous readings (especially the ones from this week) he has been teaching about.
  • Jesus sends away the sellers – those who are exploiting religion and the poor, as well as the buyers – those who either accept such mistreatment or are duped into it.
  • Once the Temple is cleared of its market crowd, a new group takes their place. The blind, lame, and children enter Temple. All of these were typically not allowed into the Temple. Jesus didn’t just kick people out of the Temple, he let others in. He healed those who needed it and enjoyed the praise of the children.