I. Jesus gives a real life manifestation of the preceding parable, a parable of accountability to the king. Jesus is referring to his ascension and return. Some of the king’s subjects say plainly (19: 14) – “We don’t want this man to rule over us.”
A. Jesus still must deal with the misunderstanding of how the kingdom is to come. “They supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately” (11). They had not understood his descriptions of kingdom subjects in 18:15ff. It would not come with pomp and riches and splendor, but with humility, under the cover of repentance.
- They still had not fully absorbed the necessity of his humiliation though he has told them of his upcoming death in Jerusalem. “They understood none of these things. The meaning of the saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said” (18:34).
- Had he established his kingdom then, he would have no redeemed subjects.
B. The nobleman goes away to receive a kingdom 12; cf. John 14:1-3. Reception of the kingdom is dependent on his going away. So with Jesus his ascension is the place that he reigns until he puts al his enemies under his feet (1 Corinthians 15:25). He told his disciples that he went away to prepare a place for them.
C. To his slaves he leaves a task and the material with which to work (Ephesians 4:8-16). In his ascension “He gave gifts to men” and they are considered stewards of those gifts (1 Corinthians 4:1) and their responsible execution of this stewardship will be judged at his return (1 Corinthians 3: 5-15).
D. His enemies, however, plotted against the nobleman seeking to be free of his reign (Psalm 2:1-3). Not only do the pagan rulers attempt to usurp the reign of Jesus, but those in his own lifetime who despised his lowliness and coveted a return of earthly splendor. The entry into Jerusalem on a donkey did littles to assure them. That man had no form or comeliness that they should desire him.
E. Upon his return, he dealt first with his slaves – cf. 1 Cor. 3:10-15
- One slave was highly fruitful.
- A Second slave also was fruitful, but not so much as the first
- A third presented a challenge to the master’s generosity
- He considered his master as unfair and too exacting to expect a return on his gift.
- He shows the unrighteous and irrational way in which the slave acted.
- The returning king gives the gift to the one most fruitful
- The enemies were killed. It would be so when Jerusalem was attacked by Titus in 70 A. D.
II. Jesus had earlier said, “We are going to Jerusalem. . . . they will kill him [the Son of Man]” (18:31). This verse (19:28) says “He went on ahead, going to Jerusalem.”
A. Jesus will not be deterred from his goal, both immediate and remote (19:11). He had come for the very purpose of dying. In John 11, immediately following his triumphal entry, Jesus heard the word that Greeks had approached and said, to Philip, “Sir we would see Jesus” (John 12:21). Jesus’ immediate response was “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.” If he died, he would bear much fruit. And so, he asked, “What shall I say, ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I came to this hour. . . . And I, if I am lifted up from the earth will draw all men to myself” (John 12: 27, 32).
B. He was intent on going to Jerusalem to die because his death would be a true substitution for the death of others. Not by his own perception but by the controlling hand of God, Caiaphas the high priest spoke of Christ’s dying as “one man should die for the people” instead of the nation perishing. John remarked that he “prophesied . . . that Jesus by his death would “gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad” (John 11:52).
C. In dying a purposeful substitutionary death, Jesus rendered the Fathered merciful to sinners in that he himself took the wrath to which they were destined: God “sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
D. His intent in going to Jerusalem for this purpose was established before the foundation of the world, a purpose resident in the triune God from eternity past: “according to his purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Timothy 1:9); “the hope f eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (Titus 1:2).
III. Jesus is in control (30-34) – Just in case anyone would conclude that things got out of hand when he arrived in Jerusalem, Jesus shows from the way he entered that the entire scheme of events is under his control.
A. The events that procured the donkey colt were orchestrated by the sovereignty of Jesus over all aspects of his covenantal relation within the counsels of eternity. The orchestration of the events and the turning of hearts are at his disposal.
- He sent two of the disciples to Bethphage telling them that as they entered, “You will find a donkey there on which no ne has ever sat.” This is not a mere guess or arising from an observation of a wandering donkey colt. The detail—“on which no one has ever sat”—was impossible to know by any kind of present observation. This is a small display of minute knowledge, a sovereign work of omniscience—omniscience built on present control of all events—control built on a former decree.
- He instructs them to untie it. Owner unknown to them, they are expected to untie the young donkey on the basis of his word. In the event that the owner sees this apparent theft—not just a remote possibility as Jesus perceives it, but as merely finite minds would conjecture—he would ask, “Why are you untying the donkey?” Again, this slight detail shows the transparently thorough knowledge Jesus already has of this unpretentious event.
- Jesus supplies the answer to the question that will disarm the donkey’s owner of any objection: “The Lord has need of it.” How he would know to release the donkey to them on that basis the text does not inform, but Jesus knew that it would be enough to gain the object without offending the owner.
- In verses 32-34, the event unfolds precisely as Jesus had told them. Some prophecies are fulfilled in minutes and some prayers are answered in minutes. Some prophecies are the fulfillment of decades of preparation and some of millennia; but both prophecies and prayers are sure since all are in the mind of our Heavenly Father.
- This incident should have given great comfort to the disciples, if they had engaged the moment sufficiently and let it sink into their consciousness. When things started to go bad, if they had learned this lesson they would still have seen that Jesus was in control. After all, although their ears were closed to its meaning, he had told them details of what would happen in Jerusalem with as much clarity as he had described how they would obtain the donkey colt.
- Calvin remarks that the disciples were not sent “on the off-chance” that his words might come to pass. “In this way he proved his deity. For to know what He cannot see and to turn men’s hearts to assent, is for God alone. For although it could happen that the owner of the ass would be at home, whether it would then be convenient for him, whether he would trust unknown men, all this does not lie in the judgment of mortal man. But just as Christ confirms the disciples to obey readily, so we see how they on their side show themselves cheerfully obedient. And their success show that this whole affair was divinely governed.”
B. In all this manifestation of deity and eternal counsels, he still is man and needs help in getting up on the donkey.
- As he had demonstrated his deity, now he shows how thoroughly he lived within his humanity for the sake of sinners. Though he created the donkey and could have transported it to himself, he depended on his disciples to bring it to him.
IV. His disciples conclude that he will now consummate his rule as Messiah King.