You see crowed gathering. You feel the excitement all around you. As you follow the crowds out of the city you begin to hear chants and cheers of acclamation. Finally, you arrive at a vast parade. The army comes first. You hear the thunder of hoofs as the cavalry marching by. Banners fill the sky. The army has been victorious and the king has returned. You see him in the distance. He’s dressed in his finest robes standing tall on his chariot. His best horses lead the way. This is a victorious king displaying his power for his people to take pride in. This king is displaying commanding message to the world that he is mighty and no one will stand in his way.
This is not the entry Jesus makes into Jerusalem when he comes as king. This is not the kind of king Jesus is. The world expects pomp and circumstance but much like Jesus’ birth (and unlike Baby George who was just born into the British Royal Family) he enters Jerusalem humbly as a servant king. While they shouted “Hosanna” they would have marveled at the king of king Jesus was depicting himself to be. Nonetheless, Jesus was in fact depicting himself as king.
He goes into the Temple to clear it out. There was an expectation that the would-be Messiah would restore the Temple. Throughout Jewish history different people who tried to establish themselves as rulers or thought they were the Messiah did what they could to restore the Temple. Herod the Great built the Second Temple so that the Jews might accept him as their king. Jesus clears the Temple to vividly proclaim that he is king. He continues to proclaim that God is for all people, all nations. The part of the Temple he cleared was probably in the gentile section where they often had a market for those needing to make sacrifices. Jesus demonstrates that he is a king who cares about all people.
This is why the first question asked of him is what authority he has to do these things. The first accusations against Jesus after he is arrested have to do with his actions in the Temple (Mark 14). What he is doing in the Temple is not just throwing a holy temper tantrum. He is provocatively demonstrating himself as king. When asked about his authority for doing these things he puts them in a bind that produces the profound answer “We don’t know.” It is these actions that will lead Jesus directly to the cross.
This chapter sets the stage for the next few chapters to follow. If there was one thing to take away from this section, it is that Jesus does not do what the world expects him to do as king. Jesus continually turns the world’s expectations on its head and shows us a new way. We are followers of the Servant King. We are citizens of His Kingdom and we are called to look like our King.