Before Billy Graham, a great man of God, would arrive at any large city to present the gospel in an evangelistic crusade, he sent an advance team. Billy Graham, with his “sold out to Jesus” team, would network with city church leaders in the area to help spread the news of the event, train people to pray with those seeking a relationship with Jesus along with “after care” training by reminding church leaders that they would need to help these new believers grow in their faith. Genius—and scriptural.
Graham’s team would train leaders to train leaders! It was important for as many as possible to join the work God was about to do in their midst. This plan was genius so obviously the plan came from God. Yes, led by God, all for the glory of God! Billy’s call from God was a passionate plea to point people to Jesus, not Billy. Billy was a humble servant who had a passion for Jesus to bring people to Jesus, not himself. Yes, I said that twice because we need to be reminded. Television audiences grew and many souls were saved by God’s work through Billy and the teams who were trained.
I think of this process of telling the Good News as we read our next passage in Matthew’s gospel. Jesus, with determination, “with his face set for Jerusalem” is now getting ready to enter the City where His mission will be made complete. Jesus’ advance team were the prophets, who centuries earlier said and wrote about the King, the Savior of the world, who would enter riding a donkey’s colt…a colt that had never been ridden before Jesus got on its back.
Jesus has prepared and trained his current advance team. Jesus has been teaching his disciples for three years of this moment of “triumphant” entry and what would happen in a few days with mocking, spitting, and being nailed to a cross, “lifted up” to die for all the sins of the world. But they still don’t quite understand it all—yet. Jesus “advance team” is given a few directions at a time which is all they can probably handle for now.
“Go into the village…you will see a donkey and its colt…untie them and bring them to me.” Can you imagine what the disciples were thinking? I’m trying to imagine that right now. They love Jesus so much, they gave up work and family to travel with Him and they have learned so much from Him, so much so, that they just do what He tells them to do. Jesus has preached to crowds, healed many with power from God, saying “I only do what the Father tells me to do and I say what He tells me to say.” Jesus has gained popularity for what He has done among the people.
His followers see Jesus get away to pray by Himself and they wonder what He is asking God in conversation with God. But they witness the results of being with God in prayer. The disciples did have enough courage to ask Jesus to teach them to pray to God like He does—so Jesus did. This is what they know.
They will indeed need to pray like Jesus, with sincere hearts, for they will be facing extreme fear and confusion that will come after the praise. Jesus will soon be arrested with false charges. He will be tortured by those who asked, “Who is this?” The religious elite will finally get their way by manipulating the Roman government to crucify the One who is getting in their way, the Messiah, the One they have read about but did not recognize.
Jesus, the One and Only will soon take away the sins of the world! But for now, according the prophets, he will ride into the city of Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt to be praised by all who know Him and have been helped by Him. They answer the question, “Who is this?”, with shouts of “Hosanna, praise God!” “Jesus, son of David, has come to save us!”
The word hosanna (Latin osanna, Greek ὡσαννά, hōsanná) is from Hebrew הושיעה־נא, הושיעה נא hôšîʿâ-nā and related to Aramaic ܐܘܿܫܲܥܢܵܐ ʾōshaʿnā) meaning ‘save, rescue, savior’. The very words of praise describe who this is indeed–Hosanna! God has come to save us!”
Jesus, the One and Only Messiah, sent by God, recognized by all who believe, will fulfill what the prophets said as He completes His mission from God, the Father. THIS is who Jesus is!
Matthew—God’s Law Fulfilled
Matthew 21:1-11, NLT
As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. 2 “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.”
4 This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said,
5 “Tell the people of Jerusalem,
‘Look, your King is coming to you.
He is humble, riding on a donkey—
riding on a donkey’s colt.’”
6 The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it.
8 Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,
“Praise God for the Son of David!
Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Praise God in highest heaven!”
10 The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked.
11 And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
PAUSE TO REFLECT AND PRAY
Who is Jesus?
Do we really believe what we say we believe about God really real?
Does our behavior in thought, conversation, and action reflect what we say we believe?
Can we answer the question, “Who is this?” with all confidence because of Christ living in us?
Lord, I believe. I believe exactly what happened, happened. I know you and love you so much that I long to know and love you more…with all that is in me. Continue to speak to my heart all day long as I answer these questions with confidence. I’m learning that extreme faith in you IS our confidence. Yes, hosanna, you saved me! Thank you, thank you, thank you. I give my life to you, all of it, all the broken pieces, all the messed-up parts, along with the good, I give to you. May all you ask me to be and do be done for your glory and praise! Teach me, Lord. For I still have a lot to learn.
In Jesus Name, Amen