I just want to start off today by pointing out that our text wrestles with some fun stuff. Jesus steals two donkeys. He uses some next level jedi mind powers. As silly as that is, it gets to an idea presented in today’s text. Today we are going to be having conversation around who people, and who you, think Jesus is. So let’s start with a moment of dialogue:
Who do different people in your world say Jesus is?
What kinds of wrong expectations do people have about Jesus?
Most of Israel was waiting for a political revolutionary. They’re at a point in text where they’ve been under Roman rule and oppression for some time. The Israelites were miserable and embarrassed by being controlled by Rome. They knew from texts that the messiah was going to be someone who would bring freedom to the oppressed. This idea of a Messiah is what gave them hope during the worst part of the Roman occupation. Many people probably assumed that whomever the messiah was, he would overthrow the government and topple the system of oppression that was in place.
We worked through all of the previous parts of Matthew that dealt with people’s perspectives of Jesus. Is he the messiah? Just a prophet? Some crazy guy who lives down the street? Even in this moment in text, it seems like people are still not fully getting who Jesus is, as he is referenced here as a “prophet”. So this all leads up to when Jesus enters in.
Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King
1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 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. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
We’ve talked a lot about expectations over the last half a year, and we know that the Jewish people were probably looking for some very specific things from the messiah.
What were the Israelites expecting from a Messiah?
How is that different than who Jesus was?
They’re expecting all these specific things from Jesus as he enters Jerusalem. As we will see later, they don’t get all they think they will.
How often do we have very specific expectations based on history or our own experiences? Expectations about Jesus as a savior? Expectations about “God”, and what he’s supposed to do for us, how he’s supposed to change our life? Expectations about church/community, how it’s supposed to look, how it’s supposed to be?
I think we usually settle into specific expectations. It becomes really hard to move past our preconceived notions. So let’s take a minute to think back so we can set ourselves up for moving forward.
How has your perception/expectations of who Jesus is changed over time?
Why did it change?
I want to ask an open ended question based on these conversation. In what ways do our own expectations not line up with who Jesus/God really is?
People still miss Jesus because of wrong expectations. They’re looking for a Savior like Aladdin’s Genie, who will grant their every wish, but it hasn’t happened. They want a Savior who will instantly solve their deepest problems, but those problems have not gone away. They expect a church where everyone always loves one another, but rather experience a church where a member treated them wrongly, so they dropped out in bitter disappointment.
It’s a good thing to be real about where we are with how we view God and what our expectations and perceptions are. The reality is though, I could sit in the same place for years, i.e. “I’ve been really hurt by the church and it’s just really hard for me to want to open my heart back up to community/God/etc”. We shouldn’t force ourselves to do things we’re not ready for, but I think it’s important and healthy for us to evaluate our perceptions about God and to figure out if we should stay where we’re at or start the process of allowing our perceptions to change.
Why does your perception/expectations of who Jesus is matter?
Share about a time that Jesus wasn’t who you thought He was.
Who is Jesus?
Take it Deeper
Is Jesus the “King your King”? Does He rule in your heart and life?
What sort of kingdom was Jesus heralding?
Was it okay for Jesus to take the donkeys?
In what ways were people seeing Jesus correctly? In what ways were there expectations wrong?