Did you know that everyone has a king? We all have an authority that is over us. Sometimes it’s a political authority. Sometimes it’s a religious authority. Sometimes it’s a family or tribal authority.
In Luke 19, Jesus declared his authority as king over Israel, and much more. Consider this passage in Luke 19:29-30. Jesus was heading toward Jerusalem when this happened:
[Jesus] “sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here’” (Luke 19:29-30).
Why did Jesus ride a donkey into Jerusalem? Why didn’t he ride a horse, or ride in a cart, or just walk the rest of the way? Because Jesus wanted to declare his kingship. Jesus was fulfilling a prophecy from Zechariah 9:9 that said the messiah would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey.
When Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem he was declaring his messiahship as king. In ancient societies, Kings riding into a city on a donkey were declaring that they came in peace, unlike riding a horse, which was a symbol of war. By riding the donkey into Jerusalem he was using the symbolism of a king riding into the city declaring peace. His disciples recognized this and said in verse 38:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:38).
The religious authorities of Jesus’ day also recognized this and demanded that Jesus restrain his disciples, but Jesus refused, saying, “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
In verse 41 Jesus, weeping over Jerusalem, lamented saying,
“Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace!”
So we see Jesus confirms the symbolism of riding the donkey. He was declaring peace. This confirmed that he rode as King, declaring peace, even though he also pronounced judgment for rejecting his peace. Jesus said their judgment was coming, in verse 44 he said:
“You did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you” (19:44).
The next thing Jesus did was to go to the temple and drive out the sellers. The sellers were there to make profit from Israel’s religious life. Listen to what happened:
“When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be a house of prayer;’ but you have made it a den of robbers” (Luke 19:45-46).
We refer to this as Jesus, “Cleansing the temple.“ But who had authority to cleanse the temple? Only the King and the priests. In doing so, Jesus referred to a passage in Isaiah, saying, “My house shall be a house of prayer.” That saying came from Isaiah 56:7 where God declares that foreigners will join Israel in God’s house of prayer (Isaiah 56:6-7). We are those foreigners! Thus, Jesus’ kingship was not being declared only over Israel, but over the world, over all who would come to him.
Why is this important?
The Apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 3:16 that you are God’s temple. If you are a Christian, then God’s Holy Spirit lives in you. Jesus, therefore, is king over you, and God is at peace with you.
But what if you don’t know Jesus?
By hearing the message of Jesus’ coming, God wants you to recognize his coming, just as Jesus declared. If we reject his coming to us, we will suffer judgment. But, just has he came to Jerusalem to make peace, so too he has come to make peace with you. Just as Jesus cleansed the temple, if you are a Christian, he has cleansed you.
How have you responded to Jesus’ kingship expressed to you today? Jesus has come to you declaring peace. He wants you to abandon your sin and be cleansed by his blood, shed on the cross for you. And he wants you to experience his victory through his resurrection from the dead, never to die again. When we receive Jesus’ offer of peace, we can know him, and we can be at peace with God. Do you want to be at peace with God?
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