Christianity in the Public Square / Matthew 21:1–11
The church is called to triumph in Christ who Gives all and not the World who triumphs in taking all
• A triumphal entry is a Roman idea.
The Roman Triumph
• Over Romes reign of about 1000 years there were times when they would capture a nation, or take over new geopolitical interest. And whenever they did that, whenever they overtook someone else, they would celebrate in that town through a visual representation of that triumph.
• Either the Caesar himself or a high ranking general would ride a massive warhorse through the main gates into the city declaring that He and the kingdom he represents now has in fact overtaken that space.
• The caesar, leading the way, would parade everything he took from the warring territory or country and celebrate the take with the city. They would show everything that had been taken.
• In doing so they proclaimed the unfailing triumph of Rome.
• This was a well known ritual in the Roman Empire. The people in whatever city the procession would have been happening would have known about it, would have prepared for it, would have looked forward to it.
• When Jesus enters Jerusalem, he is re-enacting this scene.
• He is reminding all the people who have lined up about a Roman Triumphal procession.
We all want triumph
• Why this event? Why does Jesus reenact this event?
• Because this event scratches at one of the soul’s greatest questions.
• Does my life have any value?
• the problem is we have trusted Caesar’s definition of triumph. We need to learn Christs
• Our problem is that we have believed that triumph is found in the number of items taken. The more we collect, the more we take, the more triumph.
Jesus shows us that triumph in the world doesn’t always have the same goals as triumph in God’s kingdom
Matthew 21:6–8 ESV
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
• the donkey
• Jesus finds the colt of a donkey. So he not only finds the dumbest animal he can, he finds one that has never had human interaction.
• Jesus is accomplishing better ends for triumph with lesser means.
• He not only fulfills a prophecy, He shows us that victory is not found in unbridled strength.
Triumph is not found in what is taken but rather what is given
Matthew 21:5 ESV
“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’ ”
• Caesar always looks to what he takes. Christ always looks to what He gives
• So the triumph is found in what Caesar has taken. What has been captured in his name through the authority of His power.
• But this is a massive difference than what Christ does. Christ doesn’t take. He offers.
John 10:10–11 ESV
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
• Jesus is using the event of the triumphal procession to mark His Kingship.
• He is also upending the definition of triumph. Because up until this moment, triumph has been a collection of materials that can prove that you have more than the neighbor you took them off.
• But Jesus shows us that triumph is really found in the humble king who gave His life for us.
• But Jesus is showing what life looks like, what triumph looks like, not when you exert power to collect as much as possible.
• Triumph isn’t found behind JEsus on Matt 21. It’s found in front of HIm. It is before Him. He shows us the path toward real triumph.
Philippians 2:8–11 ESV
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
• Eventually the paths will diverge. Eventually What Caesar takes and What Jesus gives will not be the same thing.
• This is where we as the church have to reflect well and discern wisely.
• Both triumphs demand costs
• The triumphalism of Caesar demands high costs
• and costs are paid through the brokenness of people and worldly systems.
• The triumph of Christ knows a high cost has been demanded
• There is always a cost demanded from somewhere
• The world will demand someone else pay it
• The church knows Christ has already covered it
• when Jesus left the earth He said only one organization will adequately represent God on the earth
• the church . That’s it
• no other organization or political affiliation can adequately or accurately represent God on the earth.
• Triumph will come and go in the world.
• But it is a permanent position in Christ.