The Triumphant Entry

“This is the gate of the LORD;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank You that You have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
23 This is the LORD’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save us, we pray, O LORD!
O LORD, we pray, give us success!
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
We bless you from the house of the LORD.
27 The LORD is God,
and He has made His light to shine upon us.
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,
up to the horns of the altar!
28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to You;
You are my God; I will extol You.
29 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
for His steadfast love endures forever!”
                                   —Ps. 118:20-29 (cf. Matt. 21:1-11)

In Matthew’s passage about the Triumphant Entry, he quotes from and links to Psalm 118. It is likely that Jesus sang this Psalm, along with the other Hallel Psalms (Pss. 113-18), with the disciples after He instituted the Lord’s Supper (Mk. 14:26). That’s not surprising since Psalm 118 highlights God’s steadfast love and has many Christ connections. 

Psalm 118 talks about the gate that the righteous enter through to go into the presence of God (v. 20). That is not a gate that we can open on our own because we cannot be righteous on our own (Rom. 3:10). Actually, the Bible says even the best we can do on our own is like filthy rags (Is. 64:6). We need the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Heb. 10:19-22). Jesus is the gate that gives us access to God the Father (Jn. 14:6), He is the one that makes us righteous. 

Jesus was the rejected stone (Matt. 21:42) but He is the Messiah, the cornerstone (Ps. 118:22). All promises rest upon Him (2 Cor. 1:20). When Jesus made His way to Jerusalem, the people cried out: “Hosanna! Save us, we pray, O LORD!” (Matt. 21:9). The people spoke better than they knew. They cried out to Jesus who is God in flesh to save—and He soon would. He would fulfill their prayer to save by answering the next cry of the crowds, that He be crucified.

The Psalm says, “The LORD is God, and He has made His light to shine upon us” (Ps. 118:27). Truly. God in flesh dwelt among us. And yet He was the “festal sacrifice” (v. 27). Jesus is finally triumphant not by overthrowing the Roman government but by overthrowing Satan, sin, and death through His death and resurrection.  

And so our response: “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!” (v. 29). Psalm 118 acknowledges the steadfast love of the LORD five times and it is the bookends of the chapter. God’s never-stopping, always-and-forever love[1] is demonstrated through Jesus answering people’s prayer for salvation. God the Son dies as the sacrifice for sinful people.

Reflections

  • Jesus brings victory and peace but not how and when people expected Him to. Jesus crushes Satan, and all wicked powers, by Himself being crushed (cf. e.g. Gen. 3:15).
  • The LORD God is a missionary God and He calls us to share the good news of Jesus with others.

Prayer

Father God, we thank You and we are amazed at Your steadfast love. We thank You that You are faithful to save us who are so unfaithful and undeserving. God we confess that Your love far surpasses our understanding but we ask that by Your Spirit You would help us to grasp more and more of the love that You have for us in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Song

[1] See Sally Lloyd-Jones, The Jesus Storybook Bible

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 9 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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