The Agony of Defeat

The Pharisees watch events prove them wrong.

Luke 19:28-40 (ESV)

And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

I almost feel sorry for the Pharisees here; the stress on them must have been unbearable. They know Zechariah 9 and Psalm 118.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. – Zechariah 9:9

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! – Psalm 118:26a

Now they’re watching these prophesies unfold right before their eyes. So they tell Jesus to order His followers to stop acting like He’s the Messiah.

Of course Jesus does the exact opposite.

I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.

Talking rocks would have given the Pharisees a heart attack.

The Pharisees didn’t see this coming, but the disciples don’t see what’s coming next either.

In a way they’re both making the same mistake; they can’t adjust their expectations in light of the evidence. They expect a certain kind of Messiah, and Jesus doesn’t fit.

But from that point on, their reactions diverge. The Pharisees conclude that Jesus isn’t the Messiah. The disciples (and the crowds) conclude that Jesus will start fitting their expectations any minute now.

Neither group will deal well with what happens next.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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