Sunday School 03 30 2014


Triumphant and Victorious”

Lesson Text: Zechariah 9:9, 10; Matthew 21:1-11

Background Scripture: Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1-11

Devotional Reading: Psalm 47



Zechariah 9:9 (KJV)

9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.


Matthew 21:1-11

1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,


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2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.

3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.

4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,

5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,

7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.

8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.

9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?

11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.



To understand the key details of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem in light of Zechariah’s prophecy.

To know and explain the combination of humility and royalty that characterizes Jesus.

To desire to bring praise to Jesus by our words and actions.



The King Is Coming

It was now Passover, what we call today Palm Sunday. There were probably about 2 million people in and around Jerusalem. This was the only time in Jesus’ ministry that He actually planned and promoted a public demonstration. Up to this time, He had cautioned people not to tell who He was, and He had deliberately avoided public scenes.

Many first-century Jews, weary of Roman repression, perhaps saw in Jesus the leader who could redress their grievances. Jesus could have staged His triumphal entry as an Occupy Jerusalem movement to play to this expectation, but He didn't. He came to solve a problem much greater than that of Roman dominance. He came to occupy our hearts! Would the people see Him as a Roman conqueror, or the coming Savior (Messiah) sent from God? We too must examine the way in which we see, and come to Jesus.



Times: about 475 B.C.; A.D. 30

Places: Jerusalem; Bethphage

This week's lesson examines passages from the prophet Zechariah and the Gospel of Matthew. Zechariah (which means "the Lord remembers") is a very common name in the Bible, with 30 or more men so designated. The Zechariah of the book by that name was called by God to be a prophet, along with Haggai, to urge the Jews to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem (see Ezra 5:1). This Zechariah returned with the freed exiles to Judah to do so in about 536 B.C. His recorded prophecies began in 520 B.C. (Zechariah 1:1) and continued for several years. The temple restoration was completed in 515 B.C. (Ezra 6:15).

The book of Zechariah is filled with symbolic images. It is also one of the most messianic of the Old Testament books, with many defining references to the coming Christ. There is an underlying sense in Zechariah's message that the temple had to be finished so that the king could come.

Perhaps some Jews expected the promised king, the promised son of David, to be made known shortly after the rebuilt temple was finished in 515 B.C. But God had a plan that required another five and a half centuries before the promised king made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Matthew, drawing on Zechariah, interprets that event as nothing less than fulfilled prophecy.


The King’s Arrival Foretold (Zechariah 9:9)

1. When was Zechariah’s prophecy fulfilled? What does it represent? (Zechariah 9:9).

This New Testament reveals that the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 was fulfilled when Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on what we traditionally call "Palm Sunday," and the event is recorded in all four Gospels (Matt. 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-44; and John 12:12-19). This is the only public demonstration Jesus allowed during His ministry, and He did it to fulfill Scripture.

This verse sets forth three characteristics of the coming king. First, He is just, being in complete harmony with the will of God. Second, He comes having salvation; the image of this future king is that of one returning from a battle in which His army has been successful and the nation is saved.

Third, He is lowly, a gentle and humble king, for He is presented as riding a young donkey. The horse is an animal of war (see the next verse, Zechariah 9:10), while the donkey is an animal of peace—an interesting contrast with the second characteristic just described.

What Do You Think?

How can you exhibit the qualities of Jesus noted here?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

At work or school | At home | At church


Preparation for the King (Matthew 21:1-7)

The next segment of our text opens with Jesus and His disciples on the final leg of their pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Passover (Matthew 20:29). Since it was Passover, there were probably about 2 million people in and around Jerusalem. This was the only time in His ministry that Jesus actually planned and promoted a public demonstration. Up to this time, He had cautioned people not to tell who He was, and He had deliberately avoided public scenes.

Why did Jesus plan this demonstration? As previously mentioned, He was obeying the Word and fulfilling the prophecy recorded in Zechariah 9:9. This prophecy could apply only to Jesus Christ, for He is the only One with credentials that prove He is Israel's King.

2. What did Jesus command His disciples to do in preparation for His entrance? (Matthew 21:1-3)

Jesus now directs two trusted disciples to go into a nearby village (probably Bethphage) and look for a female donkey (a “jenny”) that has a young colt with her. The expectation that the jenny is tied indicates the donkey is not out grazing or involved in work, but is ready and waiting for Jesus’ purposes. She may be fitted with some type of halter that allows her to be tied to a post, readily available for being led back to Jesus.

Jesus also instructs the disciples what to say if questioned by anyone. They were to say “The Lord hath need of them.” But Jesus foreknew both the person whose donkeys would be found at the designated place, and the person’s willingness to let the disciples bring them to him.

What Do You Think?

When you sense that the Lord “hath need of” something from you, do you have a hard time releasing it to His service? Why, or why not?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding abilities | Regarding money or possessions | Regarding a family member


3. How do we know that Jesus was not just another prophet? (Matthew 21:4-5)

Jesus is aware that He is fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah concerning the king coming into Jerusalem. In this, Jesus is enacting openly His role as Messiah to complete God’s plan. Understanding this is important as an answer today to those who claim that Jesus never saw himself as the prophesied Messiah or Christ.

The prophecies of Zechariah and others are not fulfilled by random chance. The events they foresaw are pieces of God’s deliberate plan, a plan carried out by Jesus. A key verse in understanding this is Matthew 5:17, which sets the tone for the entire book in the area of prophecy: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” There is perfect convergence between the prophets, who were given a glimpse of God's plan, and the Messiah, who enacts the plan centuries later.

Matthew gives an abbreviated version of Zechariah’s prophecy (21:5). Here is their king, the one Zechariah foretold. He is not riding a giant stallion with flaring nostrils, but a lowly donkey. He is the humble king—a contradiction of terms in the ancient world, but perfect in God's plan.

What Do You Think?

What do you learn about humility from Jesus that you can apply to your own life?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

With regard to what others can see | With regard to what only God can see

4. What was the response of the disciples to Jesus’ commands? (Matthew 21:6, 7)

Matthew’s account gives an impromptu sense to the preparations. By contrast, a triumphal procession in the city of Rome can take weeks to prepare. The Roman general or emperor receiving “the triumph” rides in a ceremonial chariot specially crafted for the event

For the case at hand, however, the disciples make do with a borrowed donkey and improvised saddle gear from their own garments (v. 7). This was done as a token of respect (see 2 Kings 9:13). The disciples do not hesitate to follow Jesus’ commands by thinking about what they lack!

What Do You Think?

What commands of Jesus are Christians most likely to hesitate in following? Why?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Commands about loving one another |Commands about making disciples

Commands about helping the poor or others | Other


The King’s Triumphal Entry (Matthew 21:8-11)

5. How did the crowd demonstrate their respect for Jesus? (Matthew 21:8, 9)

The nature of this event is contagious, and the crowd responds by paving the triumphal path of Jesus with their own garments and with freshly cut branches. Matthew does not specify the trees used as a source of the branches, but John identifies them as “palm trees” (John 12:13). The palm was an emblem of joy and victory. It was used as a symbol of peace (see Revelation 7:9).

The acclamation of the multitudes has three parts, all pointing to Jesus as the promised Messiah. First, the people shout Hosanna in the highest. The word Hosanna is a Hebrew term that means “save now” (see Psalm 118:25). The people are awaiting God’s Savior as promised by Zechariah and the other prophets.

Second, the people acclaim Jesus as the Son of David, a clear reference to the line of kings whom God promised to be an eternal dynasty (Psalm 89:3, 4). The crowd seems to know that Jesus is in the line of David (contrast the uncertainty of a previous occasion in John 7:41), and they apparently see Him as the king that Zechariah foresaw.

Third, the crowd gives Jesus a blessing from Psalm 118, a psalm that seems to portray the entry of David and his army into Jerusalem after a successful battle. Thus the crowd shouts “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Psalm 118:26).

And so we have both sides: Jesus is publicly accepting and enacting His role as God’s Messiah, and the Passover pilgrims of Jerusalem are embracing Him as that Messiah—or at least as the Messiah they think He should be. Jesus is the king entering the city as Zechariah foretold over 500 years earlier. Since that prophet’s time, Israel has had a city, a temple, and a priesthood. Now the people see their king.

6. What was the city’s reaction when Jesus entered Jerusalem? (Matthew 21:10, 11)

Many in the joyous crowd are temporary residents of Jerusalem, having come to the city for the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Passover observances. On this day, many such pilgrims accompany Jesus into the city, and the commotion is so great that all the city notices. The question of the day, though, is not "What's happening?" but "Who is this?"

The crowd identifies Him by name (Jesus), by hometown (Nazareth of Galilee), and by special vocation (prophet).

Earlier we mentioned that Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah concerning the king coming into Jerusalem. There was a second reason for this public presentation as well: Jesus’ powerful effect on the city forced the Jewish leaders to act (see John 12:12-19). When they saw the spontaneous demonstration of the people, they concluded that Jesus had to be destroyed. The prophetic Scriptures required that the Lamb of God be crucified on Passover. This demonstration of Christ's popularity incited the rulers to act. The Jewish leaders plot carefully and secretly to have Jesus arrested (see Matthew 21:46).

Most importantly, Jesus boldly put Himself at center stage, proclaiming God's kingdom and calling people to repentance (see Matthew 4:17).



Come to Save

The triumphal entry of Jesus was the opening act of what we call Passion Week. That entry was an extraordinary moment of glory for Jesus, but one that He could not savor for long. He was not fooled by the fickle crowd, and He knew the threat posed by the Jewish leadership was real. The cross lay ahead, and His fate was sure. He did not conquer Jerusalem; He did not lead an army against the Romans. The people shouted Hosanna (from Psalm 118:25-26). Later that week before His crucifixion, Jesus Himself would refer to this psalm and apply it to Himself (Ps. 118:22-23; Matt. 21:42).

So why do we continue to celebrate Jesus' triumphal entry? Why is it mentioned in all four Gospels and given a day on the church calendar? Maybe the answer is something like this: we celebrate Christ's coming into the city because we so desperately want Him to come again. We want Him to make the words "on earth peace" (Luke 2:14) and "peace in heaven" (19:38) a final reality. We long for Him to come, save us, and take us home. Hosanna to the king! May He be king forever!


Father, we thank You for sending us our king, mighty in glory, yet humble and meek. We thank You for our Savior, the one who rescues us from our sins. Help us ever to look forward to that great day when He will return to claim us for all eternity. We pray in His name, Jesus, amen.


Welcome the king into your life.


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