The Coming of the King
What Christ's triumphal entry means to you
Jesus and his disciples were on the Jericho road. They had already climbed most of the treacherous pathway that twisted and turned for 17 miles from Jericho up to Jerusalem.
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.' (Matthew 21:1-3)
By this point in Jesus' ministry, most of the disciples had learned to do as they were told, so the two men "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" (Matthew 21:6-7). However trivial this errand may have seemed, it was full of biblical and theological significance. It demonstrated that Christ had come to be the King. As Matthew explains, "This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: '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 21:4-5).
When Charles Jennens wrote the libretto for Handel's Messiah, he recognized the significance of this prophecy, and of its fulfillment. One of the unusual features of the oratorio is how little it says about the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. Messiah focuses on the incarnation, the crucifixion, and the resurrection, with only the briefest mention of Jesus' earthly ministry. Thus the text passes quickly from Christmas to Good Friday. One moment the angels announce the Messiah's ...
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Philip Ryken is president of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.