Jesus makes the first move in the rising conflict, actually, He makes three moves, two of which are in public, and one in private. All three moves have something in common; He is answering the question “Who do you say that I am?” His identity as the son of David comes to the fore first here and in the next section, as though He were saying to Jerusalem, “Here I am, the son of David, Messiah!”
The people seem to be delighted, at least those who were present, yet there is an undertone, a very dark undertone. What we have in this entire section is the outward and physical manifestation of the ultimate spiritual conflict, for the thing we need to recognize is this: Jesus’ actions here are the first shots in a war, a showdown with eternity itself as the prize for the victor.
In this passage, Jesus gives instructions to the disciples to obtain the donkey on which He would enter the city, and as was his custom, Matthew ties that into Israel’s prophetic history (21:4-5). As I have mentioned in other posts here, in the ancient near east, a king arriving in peace rode a donkey, a king arriving to conquer rode a war horse. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, comes to town on a donkey, for the battle He was fighting was not a clash of arms between battalions of mortal men, but a spiritual battle between good and evil in the hearts of men; make no mistake, Jesus knew exactly who the real Enemy was.
Along His path, He was greeted by the crowds as a king would be greeted as he arrived in the city in peace. In the eyes of the crowds, He was the new Davidic King come to claim His throne and overturn the Roman occupation with the power of God, restoring Israel to its rightful place among the Nations of the earth. In the eyes of the Jewish religious authorities, He was trouble. Yet in the eyes of Satan, this was what he had been waiting for, in both dread and anticipation. Dread because Jesus could utterly destroy him, anticipation because if he could manipulate the Jewish authorities, already in a state of rebellion against God and hardness of heart, he could destroy Jesus by an assault upon His body, killing Him before He could destroy the Devil, and thus our drama, the greatest drama of all time begins.
In the next post, we will see Jesus make His second move, in which He takes His Davidic identity a step further, see you then!