Luke 19:29-44: Lamb of God takes prophetically foreboding donkey ride into Yerushalayim for Passover

JeffTwo key themes in Luke 19:29-44 are the arrival of Yeshua (Jesus) into Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) on a donkey and the responsive public cry, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 19:38; quoted from Psa. 118:26). 

Parallel passages: Matt. 21:1-9; Mark 11:1-10; John 12:1-19

We should learn God’s word not by proof-texting. When you read a text and it recalls another text, always remember the context of these verses.

Blessing the blessed One bearing the Name

First let’s read Psalm 118, which is one of the texts that these stories reflect, but let’s read it in its entirety. As we read it, we need to put ourselves into the mindset of a first-century Jew living under Roman occupation. How would such a person understand this text? 

One could conclude “He who comes in the name of the Lord” would come with vengeance, based on vengeful phrases such as, “All nations surround me; in the name of the Lord I will surely cut them off” (Psa. 118:10).

However, when you also read phrases such as “the Lord helped me” (Psa. 118:13) and “He has become my salvation” (Psa. 118:14) points to the Lord as the one who is doing the “cutting off” of enemies. 

In first-century Judea and Galilee, the people proclaiming, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord,” may have been looking for the promised One who would “in the name of the Lord,” i.e., vanquish the oppression of Rome by the power and authority of the Lord

That issues was answered in Yeshua’s encounter with untrustworthy “shepherds” of Israel in the Temple (cf. Ezekiel 34), beginning in Luke 19:45 through Luke 20. 

Those delegated to care for the House of the Lord, which is the Temple, were not willing to bless that One. They did not want to bend their head and knee and acknowledge Messiah’s authority.

Overlooking the donkey-riding King

The prophesy of Israel’s king arriving on a donkey comes amid apocalyptic prophesies through Zechariah 9

The text begins with the phrase, “The burden of the word of the Lord…” That word that is translated in some English translations as oracle is the word מַשָּׂא masa’h (Strong’s lexicon No. H4853b), which literally means burden.

Hadrach, Hamat and Damascus in Zechariah 9 are in modern-day Syria. Greece in Zech 9:13 is translated from the Hebrew word יָוָן yavan (H3120). Yavan was a son of Yafet (Japeth) (Gen. 10:2) and the name is connected to outlying Greek islands of the world relevant to ancient Israel. 

A number of the cities mentioned in this text are located in Philistia, such as Gaza, Ashkelon and Ashdod. Ashkelon and Ashdod are part of the modern state of Israel, while the area of Gaza is occupied by Arabs. 

The point is that Aram and Philistia as well as Yavan, which is where the Philistines were through to have originated, were continually oppressing the people of ancient Israel. By the 1st century, Rome was the throne in the side of Israel. 

Rome had taken the place of the Philistines as the thorn in Israel’s side by the first century. The Hasmoneans invited the Romans to come in and restore pace between the feuding factions after the Greeks had been thrown out and the Romans slapped them in the face by calling the land Palestine, which is the Latin term for Philistia.

Rather than being Israel’s savior, Rome had become a nightmare, particularly under Pilate’s violent oppression of any Messianic expectation and any hints of independence.

By contrast, the Lord gave Zechariah God’s “burden” that Israel would have a kind coming in on a donkey, which is a burden-bearer and Torah symbol of the first-born, and not on a horse, which is a warrior-bearer.

Question is, does Israel want a servant king or a warrior king? God told them which kind of King He was going to send, but the ruling class of Israel didn’t want to accept this Torah bearing king. 

Israel’s rejection of their King would have consequences, which Yeshua spells out in Luke 19:41-44. He prophesies of the Temple’s utter destruction. This prophesy is also recorded in Matt. 23:29-24:2.

Delinquent shepherds lead Lamb to victorious slaughter

But not all Yerushalayim wanted Yeshua dead. We rewind to Luke 13:31-35, when a group of Pharisees warned Yeshua that Herod was conspiring to have Him killed. Yeshua’s response was a hint that Herod’s plan would come to fruition. Yeshua would die, but He could not die anywhere else except Yerushalayim. He also told them He would return when all the people of Israel — from the lowest to the highest — will call for Him, proclaiming “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

That blessed One came as the Lamb of God, and Israel’s “shepherds” ignored Him, searching for the prophesied Lion of Yehudah. When the Lamb of God returns as the Lion of Yehudah (Hos. 5:14; Rev. 5:5; 6:15-17), no one will be able to ignore Him. 

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy.

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