Matthew 20(29)–21(11)


The two parts of today’s passage are linked by the title ‘Son of David’. When the blind men heard that the Lord was coming, they shouted, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!’ And when the Lord approached Jerusalem, the crowds who met him shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’

The title ‘Son of David’ goes back to the Lord’s promise to King David in 2 Samuel 7 that David’s son would rule after him and his kingdom will never end. And, of course, on Sunday mornings we’re been reading about David’s son, Solomon, who was king of kings in his lifetime and who ruled over God’s people on God’s behalf. And so, God’s promise to David about a son who would reign after him was partially fulfilled by Solomon. However God’s promise to David is fully fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the King of kings forever; who was descended from David according to his human nature; and who came into the world as our King and to conquer sin and Satan and death on our behalf; and who now sits on a throne in heaven from where he rules over all things for the sake of his people and from where he is building his kingdom on the earth through the reading and preaching of his word and by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of David, the King of kings and Lord of lords.


And so, we read in verse 29 of chapter 20 that the Lord Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho. You may recall that they’re on their way to Jerusalem. And a large crowd followed him. And Matthew tells us that two blind men were sitting by the side of the roadside. Mark and Luke record the same story, but they only refer to one blind man; and Mark tells us that he was called Bartimaeus. We don’t know why Mark and Luke refer to one man only and Matthew refers to two. But this is not the first time this is happened, because back in 8:28 Matthew referred to two demon-possessed men when Mark and Luke refer to one only. Presumably on both occasions, there were two men involved, but Mark and Luke decided for their own reasons to concentrate on only one of them on both occasions. In any case, these two blind men were sitting on the side of the road. Presumably they were begging, because there was no other way for them to make a living apart from to beg.

And we can imagine them hearing the crowd and asking someone what was happening. And when they heard that the Lord was coming, they began to shout, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!’ They had clearly heard something about the Lord Jesus and his reputation for being able to heal the sick. And from what they had heard about him, they had come to believe that this man is God’s Anointed King, who had come into the world to bring in God’s kingdom. And according to Old Testament prophecy, when God’s Anointed King comes to bring in God’s kingdom, then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. That’s how Isaiah puts it in Isaiah 35. And so, though these men were blind, they could see by faith that Jesus is God’s Anointed King, the Son of David, and the fulfilment of God’s promises.

Though the crowd rebuked them for making a racket, they would not stop and shouter all the louder. They would not stop until the Lord heard them. And finally the Lord did hear them and he stopped and called them. And what an open-ended question: ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ You’ve asked for mercy. You’ve asked for my help. What can I do for you? And, of course, they want to see. And Matthew tells us in verse 34 that the Lord had compassion on them. He is not hard-hearted and indifferent to the suffering of his people, but is willing to hear the cries of his people and to answer them. ‘Blessed be the Lord’, the psalmist says, ‘For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.’ And the Lord heard their pleas for mercy and answered them.

And by the power of God — who made the heavens and the earth and all that they contain, and who made us and who made our eyes — he touched their eyes and enabled them to see. As I said in our Christmas sermons, the Eternal Son of God reached out his human hands and touched their eyes. And by the power of the Holy Spirit, he restored their sight. And afterwards they followed him.

And not only is this a foretaste of what he will do for all his people when he comes again in glory and with power to raise the dead and to renew our fallen and broken bodies, but this miracle also speaks to us of the Lord’s ability to remove our spiritual blindness to enable us to see his glory so that we will trust in him. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians, the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. But God — who said in the beginning, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’ — made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. God enables the blind to see his glory in Christ. And when we meet like this on a Wednesday evening, we can pray that God will continue to enable the blind to see his glory in Christ wherever the gospel is proclaimed.


But let’s move on now to the second part of today’s passage and the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem. We read in verse 1 of chapter 21 that the Lord sent two disciples ahead of him to fetch a donkey and its colt. And if anyone asked them what they’re doing, they should say that the Lord needs them. Presumably he had made some kind of prior arrangement with them which we know nothing about.

And Matthew tells us in verse 4 that what is about to happen took place to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet. Matthew’s gospel contains ten or so of these fulfilment sayings to point out to us that what happened to Christ fulfilled what God had promised in the Old Testament. It’s been a while since we’ve had one of these sayings, because the last one was in chapter 13. But he’s now letting us know that the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem on a colt was the fulfilment of the Lord’s promise in Zechariah 9. In fact, the first part of the quotation comes from Isaiah 62 where it says:

The Lord has made proclamation
to the ends of the earth:
Say to the Daughter of Zion,
‘See, your Saviour comes!’

And Matthew combines that verse from Isaiah with Zechariah 9:9 which foretells how God’s Anointed King would come to deliver God’s people from their enemies; and his rule will extend from sea to sea. And that prophecy has now been fulfilled in Christ the King. However, the really significant thing is the fact that the King is gentle and rides on a colt. A colt, or a young donkey, is not the kind of animal a warrior would ride. A warrior would ride a war horse: the kind of war horse we read about in Job 39 who strikes terror with his proud snorting. No one is afraid of a young donkey. Children ride them on the beach on holiday. And so, riding into Jerusalem on a colt means that God’s Anointed King has come, not to raise an army. Though he is descended from David, he’s not a warrior like David; and he didn’t come to lead an army into battle against the Romans the way David led his army against the Philistines. No, the Lord Jesus has come gently and in peace. While he had come to deliver his people, he hadn’t come to deliver them from the Romans, but from their sin and misery. And he did not come to kill, but to be killed and to offer his life as the ransom to pay for all that we have done wrong.

We read next that the disciples fetched the colt and its mother and they placed cloaks on the colt for a saddle. And the Lord sat on the colt and made his way towards Jerusalem. The people in the crowd placed their cloaks on the road to form a kind of red carpet for him. Others did the same with branches cut from trees. And the peopled shouted: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ Hosanna was an exclamation of joy and gladness. So, they were glad that the Son of David had come. And they shouted: ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ That’s a quotation from Psalm 118. The Son of David has come in the name of the Lord. That is, he’s come on God’s behalf and to do God’s will. And they shouted: ‘Hosanna in the highest!’ They’re praising God who is in the highest for sending their King.

And the whole city was stirred by his arrival and they asked, ‘Who is he?’ And the crowds who had come with him from Galilee replied that he was Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee. And, of course, he is a prophet. He’s our Great Prophet who came to declare the will of God for our salvation. And he’s our Great King, who is enthroned in heaven and rules over all and who is extending his kingdom throughout the world through the reading and preaching of his word. But not only is he our Great Prophet and King, he’s also our Great Priest and he had come to Jerusalem to offer himself on the cross as the once-for-all, perfect sacrifice for sins to make up to God for all that we have done wrong and to make peace for us with God. And through faith in him, we receive forgiveness and the hope of everlasting life in God’s everlasting kingdom in the new heavens and earth.