/ palm sunday / Andrew Kerr

How did He know?

What a happy time it has been for me as the Lord has refreshed me while I've been reading through Matthew's Gospel - I trust that continues to be your experience also in your devotions in His Book as you seek promised, prayed-for, daily bread.

This morning I've been reflecting upon the requisitioned 'Colt' on which Jesus rode upon as He entered the capital city on Palm Sunday. Various views are suggested as to how Messiah knew two donkeys would be 'ready and present' when sought.

Prearranged SIGNAL?

As Ridderbos points out we don't necessarily have to rule that out. Leon Morris thinks it problematic though not an insuperable hurdle. Yet, without any mention of the 'pass-word' arrangement, further information given to disciples, or texts or tweets to insure the beasts and owner were at home, it does look like a stretch to make this argument from deafening silence. Not impossible then, but highly unlikely. Matthew, like other Evangelists, directs us to other options.


Scholars assure us that the 'power of requisitioning' was granted to kings: that fact alone makes this a messianic claim . Such authority was shared by rabbis in those days: there was not a hint of presumption at all on the part of our LORD. We are comfortable with the claim Christ laid to the colt, not only as teacher, nor simply as a monarch, but finally as Creator of all creatures in the cosmos. The crown right of Christ is beyond any doubt, yet it still begs the question 'How did Jesus know?'


Here we have an instance of a communication by the Spirit from the Divine nature of Jesus to His human consciousness. As God, He had ordained it; as God, He had arranged it; as God, He had superintended it; as God, He had obviously foreseen it; as God, King Messiah now sees, knows and fully comprehends each of the intricate details of the circumstance of the donkey and its recently-born, unbroken, colt - Yes, even as He speaks, the LORD of Glory sees the mule tied up, beside it's mum, down the road, out of sight, in the village street of Bethphage, with neighbors and owners conversing casually outside (He'd actually envisaged, scripted and choreographed this scene and its actors before the creation of the world). He knows the word on their tongues before they'll even think or speak - as David would marvel, in Psalm 139: 'Behold, O LORD, 'Tis known to Thee' - hence the answer supplied to disciples to deflect any predictable objection: Jesus knows this will satisfy their hearts and obtain the bystanders consent. As Ryle remarks:

"There is nothing hid from the Lord's eyes: there are no secrets from Him. Alone or in company, by night or by day, in private or in public, He is acquainted with all our ways. He that saw Nathaniel under the fig-tree is unchanged. Go where we will, and retire from the world as we may, we are never out of sight of Christ." Matthew, 212.

If that is the correct interpretation of the passage - it is certainly a most satisfying, God-glorifying and Christ-exalting one - we have a cameo revelation of the Deity of Messiah as He comes to claim His throne as the humble 'Prince of Peace' (Certainly, this would help to explain why Satan has raged, disproportionately, against this particular text in an attempt to undermine it, in the minds of saints, through mouths and pens of unbelieving critics). As Calvin puts it beautifully:

"In this way He proved His Divinity; for both to know absent matters, and to bend the hearts of men to compliance, belonged to God alone. It was, no doubt, possible that the owner of the ass, entertaining no unfavorable opinion of Christ, would cheerfully grant it; but to foresee if he would be at home, if it would then be convenient for him, or if he would place confidence in unknown persons, was not in the power of mortal man ...The result shows that the whole of this affair was directed by God." Harmony of the Evangelists: Vol 1, 449.


The context itself, furthermore, clearly suggests that Jesus believed that the Bible spoke about Him. The citation from the prophets seems to consist of a hybrid quotation from Isaiah and Zechariah. In the latter passage, Zechariah 9:1-17, the Messianic Conqueror rides down south from Syria to Zion, as a princely peace envoy, rejecting the war horse in favor of being saddled 'bare-back' to this lowly beast:

"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."

Matthew reflects the Hebrew style, moving from general to particular - he mentions both the donkey and then the foal - he rode on the colt, while the mother calmed its unbroken child amidst the clamor of the crowd (see Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19).

In other words, Jesus, in faith, was persuaded that this prophetic zecharianic text was written of Him - and was now literally being fulfilled, as J.C. Ryle, in Matthew, 213-214, points out. Christ believed with all his heart that His disciples would find the foretold colt - the Word of His Father could never disappoint. He sends them out trusting all arrangements will have been made by God, so He can make His humble entrance, just as His Father ordained, before then being crucified center-stage, steeped in all our ignominious stains.


So how did He know? It would be tragic if we turned a glorious revelation of Christ's divine glory into a matter of sheer dogmatism - this is a moment to soak up the atmosphere of the crowds adoring Christ and to fall at His feet and worship from the heart. This humble King now hurries to His death - His sufferings for us - and that fact alone should make tears well up in our hearts and knees bow down to Christ.

Yet both text and context point out two glorious truths - it was with full knowledge as God and also with full faith as God-Man, that our loving Mediator, knowingly and faithfully, requisitioned the Father's colt for us. Craig Keener, I suggest, hits the nail directly on the head:

"More important, the passage testifies to Jesus' foreknowledge ...Thus Matthew is making a statement not so much about possessions here as about Christ: as the rightful King he has the right to anything in creation, certainly among His people." Matthew: IVP New Testament Commentary Series, 312.
Andrew Kerr

Andrew Kerr

Pastor of Ridgefield Park NJ (NYC Metro Area) - Husband of Hazel, Dad to Rebekah, Paul & Andrew, Father-in-Law to Matt, Loves Skiing, Dog Walking. Passionate for Old Testament - in Deep Need of Grace

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