Don’t Miss the King

March 24, 2024 | Jess Rainer

Passage: Matthew 21:1-17

Opening Illustration: Rachel and I were out to dinner a few weeks ago. While we were eating, I noticed a well-known Christian music artist walk in. I waited until this person was standing right behind me and said, “Rachel, look who is right behind.” She looked up, then looked at me, and gave me a look like, “What are you talking about?” I then had to mouth the name of the person, which triggered the “Oh yeah!” expression. If I had not prompted Rachel’s attention, she never would have noticed this person.

About 2,000 years ago, someone really important entered a city to accomplish a task that would change humanity forever. There were those who saw the Him and worshipped Him. And because of that, their eternities were changed – their lives were changed from death to life. But there were those that missed Him, that didn’t see Him, or choose to ignore Him. And the result was irreversible. Even though Jesus made His entry 2,000 years ago into Jerusalem, we are still faced with the same dilemma that those people faced that day. Will we see Jesus as our King? How we answer that question determines our eternities. The most important decision you can make is Jesus as your King.

Today, I want you to put yourselves on the outskirts of Jerusalem and ask yourself, “Am I laying down my coat and branches in front of the King as He rides in? I want you to put yourself in the temple and asked yourself, “Am I playing around with religion or do I see Jesus?” I want you to put yourself in with those children that were worshipping Jesus and ask yourself, “Do I have the heart of child that is running to my Heavenly Father?” My one plea to you today is this: Don’t miss the triumphant King. I’m not going mouth the name of Jesus today, I am going to shout His name because no one can afford to miss this King.

Let’s open up our Bibles to Matthew 21 and let’s take a look at this King. We are starting a 2-week series called “Sermon Series: Look Again”. I want out hearts, minds, and soul to see the triumphant King and the risen Messiah. Read Matthew 21:7-11. Pray. When we read the Bible, we see from the start to the end, Scripture is consistently pointing to Jesus. In Matthew 21, Jesus fulfills 3 Old Testament prophecies and shows that one Old Testament passage was talking about Him. Those in biblical times would have known the Old Testament scriptures and that a Messiah was coming. For the most part, the expectation was the king was coming to restore political significance to Israelites. But that wasn’t God’s plan. So, here’s the first of five ways we must see our King: Jesus is the King who changes expectations. 

1) Jesus is the King who changes expectations. (vs. 1-11) We pick up in verse 1 of Matthew 21 with what is often called the “Triumphant Entry”. Jesus is entering the final week of his earthy ministry. Matthew really wants us to focus on this week. The first 20 chapters in Matthew show us Jesus’ 3-year earthly ministry. In the last 8 chapters of Matthew, we see the final 8 days of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Up until verse 1, Jesus has really kept it under wraps that He is the Messiah. Now, in verse 1, the time has come to let people know. Let’s look at this passage starting with verse 1: 1As 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. “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. If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.” Now these first three verses are remarkable in of themselves. There are some critics of Christianity that believe Jesus just got all caught up in the excitement that was growing around Him. But here, we see that Jesus knew where the donkey and colt were. Jesus was in complete control of the final days of his earthly ministry. 

He’s in such control that he’s fulfilling prophecy from Zechariah 9:9. Look at verses 4 and 5: This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said, “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.’” What happens next? The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it. Beyond fulfilling prophecy, what’s the significance of Jesus riding on this colt?

  1. Jesus is riding the colt, not the donkey
    • This is an animal that has never been ridden before
    • I don’t know much about taming animals, but I do know that just don’t want to jump on an animal that hasn’t been ridden
      • Illustration: A family member tries to get me to ride a cow
        • That cow quickly realized that someone was on her back and she wanted me off
        • When she turned around to bite, I don’t think I had ever seen such massive teeth
        • Thankfully my family member grabbed me off and saved me losing some fingers!
      • I know it may seem like a small detail, but they fact that Jesus gets on this colt with ease shows us just how much Jesus is in control
        • It also shows us how Jesus choose to let the world know He is the King
  2. Most kings would have chosen to ride a war horse when announcing their arrival
    • But not Jesus, because Jesus didn’t come to make war
    • Jesus didn’t come to overthrow political regimes
    • Jesus didn’t come to gain government influence
    • Jesus came to bring peace to the souls of mankind
      • Jesus didn’t come to make war with mankind, He came to make peace with God for mankind.

Put yourself in the scene in verse 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. 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!” There is Jesus, not on the war horse, not on the donkey, but on the colt. And the crowds are beginning to cry out “Hosanna!” – which means “save us!” All of this put Jerusalem in an uproar: 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.”  

If you were in those crowds, who are you looking at? Are you seeing a king who is coming to restore political power? Are you asking the question, “Who is this guy? And why is He riding a colt?” Or are you seeing the King who is coming to save your soul? You might be looking at Jesus today and He’s not what you were expecting, but He’s exactly what you need. Jesus is the King who changes expectations. Jesus is also the King who loves you. That’s the King we see next: Jesus is the King who loves deeply. 

2) Jesus is the King who loves deeply. (vs. Luke 19:41-44) I want us to briefly pause before we look at verse 11 because before Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, Luke’s gospel account provides a powerful moment that shows just how much Jesus loves. Flip over to Luke 19 with me and let’s read verses 41-44: 41 But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. 42 “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. 43 Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. 44 They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you. All the praising and the shouting and the branches and coats surround Jesus. But as the city of Jerusalem comes into view, Jesus starts weep. This wasn’t just a rogue tear falling down His cheek. Jesus is completely broken hearted. All He wants is for this city to know Him, His salvation, and His peace. But instead, they missed the King. As verse 44 says, they “did not recognize it when God visited you.” 

We have a humble and meek King who came to change the expectations of the world. We also have a King that loves you deeply. We have a King that is calling to you. Don’t miss this: Jesus is softly and tenderly calling you to Himself. Don’t miss the tender voice of Jesus. He loves you so much. He’s calling you. It was too late for those in the city, but it’s not too late for you.


Our King is meek and humble. Our King calls softly and tenderly.But our King is strong and in control. As Jesus entered Jerusalem, He knew what was coming every step of the way. Here’s what we see next about our King: Jesus is the King who is in charge.

3) Jesus is the King who is in charge. (vs. 12-13) We have to remember the context of what was taking in Jerusalem when Jesus arrived. There were thousands of people coming to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. That means this was a great business opportunity. Merchants were selling animals so that people could perform sacrifices. While probably not inside the temple, they did set up in the outer part of the temple complex. Worshiping God in the temple had become a commercial endeavor. This sight affected Jesus greatly. Do you remember how Jesus described the temple to Mary and Joseph? “Didn’t you know that I must in the My Father’s house?” (Luke 2). Jesus saw His Father’s house in complete disorder. Illustration: Cleaning up before your parents come home. This reminds me of that 17-year old highschooler whose parents are out of town. That 17-year old calls the parents to ask have 2 friends over. Those 2 friends bring two more friends. You order too much pizza, so more friends come over and before you know it, your watching the game with 20 people. Well, when 2am rolls around and your parents are coming home at 8am, the panic sets in…You kick everyone out and start cleaning. You are so relieved when your parents see those nice vacuum lines in the carpet and don’t look in the trashcan to see how many pizzas you actually ordered. I mean that 17-year old, didn’t want my father’s house to be in ruins.

That’s exactly how Jesus felt – maybe with different motivations…What was Jesus’ response to the scene in the temple complex? Look at verses 12 and 13: 12 Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves. We learn something about Jesus’ reaction in Mark’s gospel. I think we often picture that Jesus that lost his temper and reacted unrighteous anger. But that’s not the case. You could flip over to Mark’s gospel to see that when Jesus first arrived in Jerusalem, He went to the temple and look around carefully. And then He left, went out to Bethany, and came back the next day.

What Jesus does in the temple is intentional, controlled, and righteous. Jesus is fulfilling the prophecy in Isaiah 56. Jesus is declaring He is the awaited-for King. Jesus is telling everyone that the old way of relating to God is fulfilled and access to God is now through Him. Jesus is making it known that He is restoring the broken relationship with God and man. Our King is meek, but He’s not weak. Our King is in charge. Are you seeing our King? A King after hearts, a King who loves, a King in charge. Next, we see the King who rules over all things. 

4) Jesus is the King who rules over all things. (vs. 14) After Jesus cleansed the temple, He spent some time teaching in the temple, under the threat of death. Matthew gives us two scenes that take place while He was teaching. The first scene is in verse 14: 14 The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. Jesus is showing the world He’s the King who rules over everything. When Jesus’ earthly ministry was beginning, John the Baptist inquired about Jesus. I love these verses in Matthew 11: John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” John the Baptist asked, “Are you the King?” Jesus said, yes, look for my healings. In other words, Jesus says, “Yes, I am King and you will see my authority over all”.

As Jesus healed, He fulfilled a third Old Testament prophecy from Isaiah 35. Look at verses 4 through 6: Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. This one verse, verse 14, shows us our King is a King who rules over everything. Jesus’ authority is over blindness and deafness. Jesus’ authority over nature and creation. Jesus’ authority is over all.

A lot of people have a hard time wanting to submit to Jesus as a King. Can I remind you of something? Jesus is a King that is for you. Illustration: Taking off the training wheels. These past few weeks we’ve talked about pursuing God is a lot like riding a bike uphill. When you are teaching someone how to ride a bike, you tell them to do what “keep peddling.” But the absolute first thing you do when you start to ride is take off the training wheels. Each of my kids had a minor revolt when I took off their training wheels? Why? Because it was their safety net. But I knew they would never experience the fullness of riding as long as those wheels were on. Some of you are having a hard time peddling because you still got those spiritual training wheels. Let go and let Jesus take over – as scary as it is – because He’s a good King and King for you. It’s easier to let a King rule over you when you know He’s for you. Jesus is a King for you, so let Him be a King over you. I’ll close quickly with these final 3 verses. Here’s the last truth we see about on this Palm Sunday: Jesus is the King who deserves your praise. 

5) Jesus is the King who deserves your praise. (vs. 15-17) When it’s all said and done, when we see our King for who He is, it should drive us to worship and praise Him. Look at this beautiful scene from verses 15 through 17: 15 The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.” But the leaders were indignant. 16 They asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” “Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.’” 17 Then he returned to Bethany, where he stayed overnight. If the priests and scribes weren’t upset enough, Jesus makes one more declaration. And this one is clear as day. The children were declaring that the King has arrived! The priests were already upset: think triumphant entry, think challenging the sacrificial system, think healing, and now the children are calling Him King. They respond, “Well, Jesus, what are you going to do about this one?” “Do you hear what these children are saying about you?” And look at the one-word truth-bomb that Jesus drops: “Yes.” “I hear them. And I receive it. Because it’s true.”

To make one more statement, Jesus quotes Psalm 8. Read Psalm 8:1-2. O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens. You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength, silencing your enemies and all who oppose you. This psalm was a psalm for praise of Yahweh – for God. And Jesus receives this praise. In this moment, Jesus declares that He is King and He is God. Illustration: A few days ago, I was in Bridgestone Arena with a few thousand people to watch some local artists sing a few songs. These people were pouring out their lungs to sing along with their favorite artists. I may or may not have participated in singing pretty loud…Can I tell you something though? Those thousands of people can’t compare to the voices I hear on Sunday morning. Those ballads and hits don’t come close to the praise that is poured out in this place. Why? Because our songs are eternal. Our praise is eternal. Because we serve God that will get His praise. If we don’t sing, the rocks will cry out. The question we must ask of ourselves is this: Will you join in with the indignant leaders or the praising children?

This morning, I don’t want you to miss our King. I hope you see the expectation changing, deep loving, in charge, ruler of all things, and praise deserving King. I am going to ask the band to come on up. 

  • I want our response this morning to be worship
  • I want us to join in with those who laid their coats down
  • I want us to join in with those who laid down the branches
  • I want us to join in with the blind whose eyes were opened to the King
  • I want us to join in with the lame who were healed that didn’t stand, but bowed down to the King
  • I want us to join in with those precious voices of the children singing to the King


Worship your King. Can we worship our King now? I close with these reminders about our King. Don’t miss the King.

  • Verse 3 says, “the Lord need them” – He’s our Divine King
  • Verse 4 says, “this took place so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled.” – He’s our Prophesied King
  • Verse 5 – “Your King is coming to you” – He’s our Personal King
  • Verse 5 – “Gentle” – He’s our Gentle King
  • Verse 5 – “Mounted on a donkey” – He’s our Peaceful King
  • Verse 8 – “Cutting branches and spreading them on the road” – He’s our Celebrated King
  • Verse 9 – “The crowds shouted Hosanna!” – He’s our Savior King
  • Verse 9 – “The Son of David” – He’s our Messianic King
  • Verse 11 – “This is the prophet Jesus” – He’s our Prophetic King
  • Verse 12 – “Jesus threw out all those buying and selling” – He’s our Righteous King
  • Verse 12 – “He healed them” – He’s our Healer King
  • Verse 16 – “You have prepared praise from the mouths of infants” – He’s our Praiseworthy King

I don’t know about you, but that’s who I want to be my King! If He is your King, then stand and worship with all you’ve got!

Previous Page

Series Information

This 2 week Easter sermon series takes John’s account of the disciples who went to see the empty tomb and draws from one disciple’s experience of looking and then looking again at the empty tomb. This series invites us to look hard at the fact of Jesus’s resurrection, its invitation, and its implications.

Other sermons in the series