Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them’, and he will send them at once’. This took place to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet, saying: Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden’. The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before Him and that followed Him were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’ And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, ‘Who is this?’ And the crowds said, ‘This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee’ (Matthew 21: 1 – 11).
These eleven verses describe to us the very visible and public entry of the Lord Christ into Jerusalem. At the time of Jesus, Jerusalem was a world class city. It was truly one of the wonders in the known world. It was the place to be. The temple had been recently restored to its former glory. Water could be found in the public pools fed by springs and by two great aqueducts that brought water from as far as seven miles away. So Jerusalem is a hub of buzzing activity – even more so during the Passover. It is like London during the Olympic Games. Jesus is accompanied by multitudes of people and there is so much fuss, noise and excitement – a sense of anticipation. People are crying ‘Hosanna! Hosanna! The King has come!’ All of the city is deeply moved. Emotions are running high. Loud cries and shouts of praise fill the streets with noise. Isn’t it rather strange that our Lord is part of this procession? The Lord Jesus has spent most of his life as carpenter, minding his own business. He did not ‘cry or strive, nor let his voice be heard in the streets’ (Isaiah 42:2). He withdrew from the multitudes during his ministry on many occasions, to find quiet isolation for prayer. He would often say to those He healed, ‘Don’t tell anybody now’ (Mark 1:44). Jesus was nothing like those telly evangelists with their slick white suits, fast sports cars, plastic smiles and private Jets. He was lowly and meek. He was gentle, quiet and kind. Yet here He is, caught up in the middle of a great procession as the centre of attention. Moreover, He is the one who gets the ball rolling. He wants this procession to take place. He instructs the disciples to fetch his ride. What’s going on here? Why so much fuss? Where is He going? What’s He doing? Why the noise and excitement? Why the crowds? What is the explanation for all of this?
You all know what is going to happen. He is coming to die. The Lord Jesus knew that the time had come to lay down His life. J. C. Ryle puts it most strikingly: ‘The plain truth is that our Lord knew well that the time of His earthly ministry was drawing to a close; He knew that the hour was approaching when He must finish the mighty work He came to do, by dying for our sins upon the cross’. The public fuss of the triumphal entry was necessary so that all Jerusalem would know the King of kings has come to die. He isn’t trying to remain incognito now. The game is up and Death is waiting to embrace Him. Though the crowds do not know it, this procession for Jesus is a funeral march. He is riding to the cross. He is riding to His death. This death has to be a public spectacle. Just as Moses lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world did not come to die privately. He did not come to die in secret. He did not come to die hidden from the eyes of men. The Son of God came to die a public death, where every eye could see Him, so that all may look upon Him and live. All Jerusalem must know that this brave and precious Jesus, who comes riding upon a donkey, is the One who must die. They see Him now and rejoice in a King, but they’ll see Him soon hanging upon that cross and cry ‘Surely, this man was the Son of God’. How notorious a crime it will be to take this One hailed as a King and nail Him to a tree. The Lord Jesus attracted to Himself the eyes of the great multitudes so that ‘all Jerusalem was moved’ to see Him riding upon a donkey. How great a crime it will be to kill this wonderful man! Oh! How history would remember it! The blood of Lamb was soon to be shed. He was soon to die and all Jerusalem would know that they had crucified the King of Glory.
Some people in Jerusalem were asking ‘Who is this?’ They were, it seems, ignorant of the Lord Jesus. He was the glory of the people of Israel. He was their promised Messiah. Yet many in Jerusalem didn’t know Him. Even those who seemed to know Him, only thought of Him as the Prophet from Nazareth. He was the Son of living God, the second person of the Trinity, the lamb slain before the foundation of the world. They had no idea who He was. He came to His own, and His own received Him not. Jerusalem was the centre of religious education. It was jam packed with teachers of the law, with Pharisees and Sadducees. This is the one place on earth where Jesus should have been recognised. Yet, isn’t it always this way? They who profess to have spirituality and who make a great show of religion are often the ones who languish in the greatest darkness concerning the things of God. Who is this? Who is this Jesus? Who is this King of Glory? These are profoundly important questions and I would like us to consider some of the answers found in our text.
1] Jesus is the Divine King who knows all things. He is the omniscient God. The Lord Jesus sends two of His disciples into the village and He tells them exactly what they will find there. He doesn’t send them away at random. He gives them specific instructions. At the very entrance to the village, He tells them they will find a donkey and her colt. He gives His disciples the exact answer for those who may object to them borrowing their animal. And none will hinder them provided they say ‘The Lord has need’. It all happens exactly as Jesus tells them. In this way, Jesus proves His divinity. He knows all absent matters. He knows all things. He knows exactly where the nearest donkey is. He knows what answer the owners expect to hear. He has the power to bend the hearts of the owners to grant what pleases Him. For, to know all things and to be able to bend the hearts of men are powers that belong to God alone. You might suppose that a generous person would gladly allow them to take the colt. This event, you might say, is nothing more than a good guess from Jesus and bit of luck. The Lord Christ however knew exactly where the colt would be, knew that the owner would be at home at precise time he required it, and knew that the owner would be willing to lend the colt to unknown persons for an unknown and mysterious Lord. The whole affair is clearly being directed by the sovereign and divine power of Jesus Christ. He is not merely a mortal king, an upstart or a usurper. He is the King of kings, the Son of the living God. He is the divine King who knows all things and can move the hearts of men to do all that He pleases.
You cannot keep secrets from the Lord Jesus. He knows all things. There is nothing hidden from His eyes. He knows everything about us. The Palmist puts it like this:
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether ... If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb ... My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them (Extracts from Psalm 139).
He sees and knows us intimately. He knows even the deepest and darkest secrets of our hearts. Every sin, every shame, and every failure - He knows them all. Even the darkness is as light to Him. He knows where you keep your donkey. He knows every hair on your head. He has counted them one by one. These are solemn thoughts. The Psalmist is persuaded that the whole of a man’s life is to be lived as in the divine Presence. The Lord Jesus knows you inside out. This means that the life of a Christian should be simple, plain and honest. We must strive to be the same within as without. J. C. Ryle puts the challenge like this:
Let us do nothing we would not like Christ to see, and say nothing we would not like Christ to hear; let us seek to love and move and have our being under a continual recollection of Christ’s presence; let us behave as we would have done had we walked beside Him, in the company of James and John, by the sea of Galilee.
If we are not prepared to live like this now, then we will never be ready for heaven. This life is but a training ground for eternal life with the Lord Jesus. In Heaven we always be in the presence of the Lord. We are pilgrims on earth wandering through this barren and sinful land. We are looking forward with the eyes of faith, to be forever with the Lord. We come to hear of Jesus because He is our fiery, cloudy pillar, our guide through the wilderness of life, our shepherd who leads us home to heaven. Are you following Him? When we baptise believers at my home Church, as they come up from the water the whole congregation sings:
Follow! Follow! I will follow Jesus!
Anywhere, everywhere, I will follow on!
Follow! Follow! I will follow Jesus!
Everywhere He leads me I will follow on!
You cannot help feeling deeply moved as someone comes up from the water, making a public declaration that they are now a follower of Jesus. Will you follow Him anywhere and everywhere? Will you live as if He were standing right beside you? Will you behave as if you were with Him in company of James and John by the waters of Galilee? Will you cast aside your nets, take up your cross, and follow the Divine King of Kings? Will you follow Jesus?
2] Jesus is the promised King. He is the messiah promised in the Old Testament. Matthew quotes a portion from the book of Zechariah to prove this. He is using an argument from prophecy to validate Christ’s ministry. Now the ultimate reason why we believe and trust in the Bible is because of the work of the Spirit in our hearts. The Westminster Confession of Faith puts it like this: ‘Our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority [of the Bible] is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts’. Since the fall of our first parents, our hearts and minds have been corrupted by sin, and by nature we are dead to the things of God. Paul says ‘The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God ... neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned’ (1 Corinthians 2:14). The only way that this can be rectified is through that supernatural work of the Spirit in our hearts. He illuminates our minds with heavenly light and gives us the eyes of faith to see the invisible things of the Kingdom of God. This divine and supernatural light from the Spirit of God is not merely the conviction of sin; nor is it the understanding of few doctrinal points; nor is it an impression upon the imagination; nor a spine tingling religious sensation. Rather, when the Spirit comes in regenerating power to persuade you that the Bible is true, He imparts a new, supernatural principle in your soul. He creates in your heart a true sense of the divine excellency of the glorious things revealed in the Word of God, and persuades you and convinces you of the truth and reality of them. He gives you an inwards sweet sense and delight in God and the divine things as they are in themselves. Only divine power can do this miraculous work. Only the Creator God can change the sinful nature and give a new heart with new desires.
However, this does not mean that the Spirit of God is enabling us to make what would otherwise be an irrational decision. On the contrary, the Spirit persuades men and women, boys and girls, to make the right decision. The Christian faith gives us every reason to believe that God exists and that Jesus is His Son. It is a reasonable, logical, rational faith. The Gospel is able to answer all the deep questions of the mind and satisfy thoroughly in the realm of thought and reason. The Spirit of God opens our eyes to make us see that this is so. Therefore, when you are being asked to follow Jesus, you’re not being asked to do something irrational. In fact, following Jesus, in every possible way, will be the most logical, sane, reasonable decision you ever make. One such indicator to the reasonableness of Christianity is found in our text. Matthew here shows that the acts of Jesus’ earthly ministry are the fulfilment of Old Testament promises. The words of the prophet Zachariah give the exact details of the Triumphal Entry approximately 520 years before the birth of Christ: ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem. Behold, your King is coming to you; righteous and having salvation, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey’ (Zechariah 9:9). This prophecy is not vague or ambiguous. It’s not like the prophecies you get from the local Seer, or a crystal ball gazer, or the star signs in your news paper. Those unscientific predictions are very vague and so they can apply broadly to any number of situations. But the prophecy of Zachariah is nothing like this. It details the specifics. It is a scientific prophecy. We are told that the location will be Jerusalem. We are told that this King will come upon a donkey, specifically a colt, the foal of a donkey. We are even told how the people will respond – that is with much rejoicing. Now there is only one event in history that answers this very specific prophecy and that is entrance of the Lord Christ into Jerusalem. What do you make of that? You cannot ignore it. You’ve been confronted with this tremendous reality of accurately fulfilled prophecy concerning Jesus? What are you going to do about it?
This is just one prophecy among many from the Old Testament. In a broad sense, the entire Old Testament itself could be seen as the prophecy par excellence of the ministry of Christ. The types, shadows, pictures and direct prophecies all point to Jesus. Think about this for a moment. The Old Testament is the work of multiple human authors, writing across vast periods of times, in different cultures and contexts, dealing with different concerns and interests, writing in styles from poetry to prophecy, and yet all saying one thing: Jesus Christ is the promised King who will come to save His people from their sin. What do you make of that? These facts testify to the reality of God’s sovereign control of history. The God of Christianity ‘declares the end from the beginning’ (Isaiah 46:10). His plan for history is comprehensive. He has determined the motions of galaxies through space, the movements of the planets around stars, the progression of history from beginning to end, the number of hairs upon your head, the falling of the sparrow, and the seemingly erratic motions of the quantum universe. History is meaningful precisely because God is at the back of everything which comes to pass in space-time. History has this definite linear progression precisely because God has decreed it so. It is not an endless cycle of birth-death-rebirth as Buddhists and Hindus might say. Man is not trapped within the endless flow and cruelty of Samsāra. On the contrary, history has a definite beginning, middle and end.
There is a progression in Biblical narrative from creation to final consummation. The Bible progressively follows these great epochs of History: creation – corruption – Christ – cross – consummation. And the sum and centre of God’s eternal plan is the person of Jesus Christ. The entire Old Testament is like one great arrow saying JESUS CHRIST IS COMMING. The New Testament is the fulfilment of the Old. It says: JESUS CHRIST HAS COME. He has lived, died, risen and ascended to take away our sins and make peace between God and men. The New Testament also says its HE’S COMMING BACK to judge the living and the dead. We have no reason to doubt this. The Bible, which is often dismissed as myth and pseudo-history, is in fact the only objective basis in the world for the linear progression of history. The acts of God’s providence in creation and redemption are acts in history. The prophecies are historical. The fulfilment of them is historical. The Bible, though a great work of literature, is fundamentally an historical Book. The work of creation, man’s corruption by the fall, the advent of Christ, His riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, His death upon the cross, His resurrection from the dead are all historical events of space time. They are events of geography and history, grounded in the reality of calendar time. And you must believe the Biblical narrative and teaching concerning Jesus Christ, not merely because it is a satisfying ethical system and way of life, but because it is historical truth. The prophecies, the shadows and types are all fulfilled in Jesus. These are not stories and myths. These are the irrevocable facts of history. The Lord Christ came from eternity into our world to save us from our sin and bring us into a love relationship with the living God. Jesus rode into Jerusalem upon a donkey to die upon a cruel cross so that helpless sinners who trust in Him might be saved and have everlasting life. My great grandmother used to sing these words to me when I was a very little boy:
Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever:
One day He’s coming—O glorious day!
These are the facts of history and you must believe them because they are absolutely true. These facts of history are the only hope for men and women in a fallen world. These facts of history show us that the Lord Jesus is the only way of salvation. You have been confronted with true truth. So what are you going to do with this remarkable man Jesus? He promises eternal life for all who trust in Him. He says ‘Come to me and you will never perish’. Come and try Him and see that He never fails. He is able to save to the uttermost! He is able to take your sins and cast them as far as the east is from the west. He can cleanse you and wash you from all your sin and shame, and make you white, pure, holy, clean, good, and acceptable in the presence of God. Just cast yourself wholly upon Him, for ‘whosoever believes in Him shall not perish by have everlasting life’ (John 3:16). That is a promise and He never breaks His promises.
3] Jesus is the celebrated King. He is the only King worthy of our adoration and worship. There is much celebration as Jesus rides into Jerusalem upon the donkey. The crowds are spreading their cloaks upon the roads like a royal carpet before the King. They’re chopping down branches and spreading them on the road with the cloaks. John’s Gospel tells us that these were Palm leaves. In Greco-Roman culture Palm leaves were a symbol of victory and triumph. The Roman soldiers must have been tense at this point: will there be a riot? Is Jesus going to take over Jerusalem? There are load shouts of Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest! They are crying ‘God save us! God save us’. They are singing part of Psalm 118: ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord’. They are calling Jesus the Son of David, declaring Him to be a King from the Davidic line. There are crowds and crowds of people squeezing through the streets of Jerusalem, itching to get a glimpse of King Jesus. The air is buzzing with excitement. There is a sudden and spontaneous revival of religion among the Jews. There is this energy and zeal and passion for the Messiah. There is, in many ways, everything the Church in Wales today lacks. How often do we hear a shout of hosanna or a cry of hallelujah? How often are we moved to love this mighty King Jesus? How often are our passions enflamed with joy and rejoicing at the very thought of Jesus? There is nothing wrong with joy, zeal and excitement in true religion. In fact, true religion, in great part, consists in the affections. The religion which God expects of us is by no means dull, lifeless, and weak. God desires that His people be fervent in Spirit. Jonathan Edwards, the theologian of the heart, puts it like this:
Who will deny that true religion consists, in a great measure, in vigorous and lively actings of the inclination and will of the soul, or the fervent exercises of the heart? The religion which God requires, and will accept, does not consist in weak, dull, and lifeless wishes, raising us but a little above a state of indifference. God, in his word, greatly insists upon it, that we be in good earnest, fervent in spirit, and our hearts vigorously engaged in religion ... The Spirit of God, in those who have sound and solid religion, is a Spirit of powerful holy affection ... He that has doctrinal knowledge and speculation only, without affection, never is engaged in the business of religion ... The Scriptures place religion very much in the affection of love; love to God, and the Lord Jesus Christ; love to the people of God, and to mankind.
You very often find that sermons and commentaries on the Triumphal Entry are rather negative and pessimistic. This event is sometimes dismissed as nothing more than emotionalism. There is some truth to that. Many of the Jews have stirred themselves up into a nationalistic frenzy, but will later abandon Jesus and call for His crucifixion. However, this doesn’t therefore mean that the Triumphal Entry is a complete and utter farce. If you’ve ever spent any time studying the revivals of the past, then you will know that a true revival of religion will always be a mixed work. There will be those in the multitudes who genuinely love the Lord Jesus Christ. Their hearts will have been filled with a holy zeal and joy at his coming. There will be much good wheat. Yet, there will always inevitably be weeds mixed with wheat. Yes, there are fickle men and women in the crowd at Jerusalem. There were those expecting a political saviour, a warrior who would free them from Roman occupation. So many of those who cried ‘Hosanna! Hosanna!’ later cried ‘Crucify, crucify’. This teaches us that great emotion and excitement are not certain signs of the Spirit of God at work.
Nonetheless, this doesn’t take away from the fact that many others in this crowd, I’m sure, were genuine believers in Jesus and rejoiced greatly to see Him come to Jerusalem. Revival is always a mixed work. Even the most fervent disciples ran away when the Lord Christ was captured and crucified. Even the true Christians like Peter, who had been so zealous for His glory, fled when things got too tough. Does this somehow mean therefore that this procession is not a true work of the Spirit of God? Does it mean that it is all wrong and must be dismissed and brushed off as mere enthusiasm? Of course not! In this world, when God moves mightily in revival, there will always be good mixed with bad, wheat with tares, and grace with nature. The devil will do his utmost to bring an evil report upon the work of God. He is subtle and crafty. He knows how to play with the passions and emotions of the human soul and can influence them to carry out much mischief. When a spirit of deep affection for Christ comes upon the people of God, the devil may twist things into excessive enthusiasms so as to bring disrepute upon the work of God. He may even influence unbelievers to join in with the work, but who will later fall away and cause disgrace. He can take joy and elation and turn them quickly into anger and bitterness. None of these things however distract from Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem being a tremendous work of God. Eifion Evans is ever so perceptive in this regard:
All too often, the ravages of mass hysteria and nervous emotionalism, due to exploitation by Satan of human frailty and gullibility, leave people in a disillusioned and dangerous state. Nevertheless, the alternative to emotionalism and hysteria is not no emotion at all [we are not stoics!], but sanctified emotion, emotion under the control of the Holy Spirit, soberly enlightened by the mind [and sound doctrine], and practically translated into [wholesome] action by the will.
There is a danger that in reaction to excesses we become hard-nosed, cold hearted stoics. We must honestly ask ourselves these questions. Have we perhaps become accustomed to shallow religion? What do we know of the height, depth, breadth, and length of the love of God? Can we sing with the Psalmist, ‘As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God’ (Psalm 42:1). Do we know something of this thirsting and panting for God Himself? Are we thirsting and longing for a sense of the presence of Jesus among us? How much do we know of this passionate desire for God? ‘My soul thirsteth for Thee, for the living God’ (Psalm 42:2). There is this heartfelt panting, this deep thirsting for God Himself. Do we know anything of such religious desires? What do we know of this longing for God? What do we know of experimental Christianity? What of self knowledge? What of keeping the heart? What of grief and sorrow for sin? What of love to Christ? What of love to our brothers and sisters? What of joy unspeakable? Are we strangers to these things? Has God’s absence become so common among us, that we’ve forgotten what it is to bleed with love for Him? Oh that the fire of His grace would burn in our hearts so that we would cry hosannas and hallelujahs! Oh that we would be caught up in wonder, love and awe as we contemplate the great doctrines of Scripture! Oh that Christ would become our all in all, our everything, our one heart’s love! Oh that we would cry for more faith and more love to Jesus! So that when we see Him in the Scriptures, we would want to take off our cloaks, tear down Palm branches, and cast them before HIM our mighty King! Oh that we would hate our sin more, forsake all other worldly loves, and love only Jesus! Oh that our oft cold hearts would thaw and begin afresh to beat with holy love for our heavenly Father and His beautiful Son.
The excitement at Christ’s coming to Jerusalem was short lived for the crowds entering Jerusalem. But on the day of Pentecost the work was of lasting power. The Spirit of God was poured out in their midst, all fear was gone; Peter became a lion in the proclamation of the Gospel. Thousands were swept in the kingdom, and from Jerusalem the Gospel has spread to the ends of the earth – even to Wales! The power of the Spirit to awaken sleepy Christians, to brings sinners to repentance, and to create living faith in dead hearts is here in our midst. It has been so ever since Pentecost. The Lord Christ has bequeathed us the gift of the Spirit. So let us seek earnestly for a fresh out pouring of the Spirit of God in our midst. Let us pray that the Spirit would raise our esteem of Jesus who was born of the Virgin, crucified and raised for our salvation. Let us pray that these great doctrinal truths would move us once again to depths of our being with a love for the lost and desire for others to know this truth. Let us pray for grace to put to death our sins, to resist the devil and the temptations of this world. Let us pray for a fresh Spirit of holiness to move in our midst. Let us pray that God would raise our esteem for the Holy Scriptures and establish us in their truth and divinity. Let us pray that God would give us a sound mind and the ability to discern the Spirit of truth from the spirit of error. Let us pray for more love in our hearts to God and fellow man. Let us pray that God would shed abroad His own love in our hearts and cause us to love Him more. Oh that our hearts beat with a steady rhythm of love for the Lord Jesus. Oh that we would be drawn more and more closely into that precious communion, that love relationship, that deep fellowship with the living God! Oh that He would create in our hearts a love for the lost, a love to seek them, and weep for them, and win them for Jesus. Oh let us pray for a spirit of love and humility to come upon us and change us from the inside out. Let us pray for a revival of true religion in our midst. Revival is simply ‘the Church falling in love with Jesus all over again’ (Vance Havner). This divine King, this promised King, this celebrated King is worthy of the best, the cream and quintessence of our love. Let us pray for the King to come in our midst and do mighty things for His glory’s sake. We cannot mechanically cause a revival of religion. We cannot manufacture converts by putting them through programmes and courses. Salvation and revival are sovereign works of the Lord Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour. He is the only One who can speak with that small still voice that wakes the dead. Allow me to close with the wisdom of Horatius Bonar:
When man proceeds to the accomplishment of some mighty enterprise, he puts forth prodigious efforts, as if by the sound of his axes and hammers he would proclaim his own fancied might, and bear down opposing obstacles. He cannot work without sweat, and dust, and noise. When God would do a marvellous work, such as may amaze all heaven and earth, He commands silence all around, sends forth the still small voice, and then sets some feeble instrument to work, and straightway it is done! Man toils and pants, and after all effects but little; the Creator, in the silent majesty of power, noiseless yet resistless, achieves by a word the infinite wonders of omnipotence!
Who is this Jesus? He is the omniscient God, the promised Messiah, and the only One worthy of our worship and adoration. Let us pray that we might know more of this Jesus being felt and heard as He moves and acts in our midst. As we look upon the gloomy hills of Wales, let us pray that the Lord Christ would sway the sceptre of the everlasting Gospel and sweep thousands into the Kingdom. As William Williams of Pantycelyn put it:
O’er the gloomy hills of darkness
Look, my soul; be still, and gaze...
Kingdoms wide that sit in darkness,
Grant them, Lord, Thy glorious light...
May the glorious day approaching
End their night of sin and shame...
Fly abroad, thou mighty Gospel,
Win and conquer, never cease;
May thy lasting wide dominion
Multiply and still increase!
Sway Thy Sceptre, sway Thy Sceptre,
Saviour, all the world around.
‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem. Behold, your King is coming to you; righteous and having salvation, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey’ (Zechariah 9:9).
 J. C. Ryle’s comments are always worth reading. I was particularly helped by his Expository Thoughts on Matthew (Banner of Truth) when preparing this sermon.
 Similar remarks may be found in Calvin’s Harmony of the Evangelists. His comments, though written long ago, always seem fresh and relevant today. His writings are timeless.
 See his comments in his Expository Thoughts on Matthew published by the Banner of Truth.
 WCF 1:5.
 See Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon, A Divine and Supernatural Light in volume 2 of Edwards’ select works published by the Banner of Truth. My language here is very similar to that of Edwards.
 What follows in this paragraph is drawn in part from John Frame’s Apologetics to the Glory of God (Phillipsburg, 1994), pp. 136–40.
 This is perhaps the most well known Jonathan Edwards quotation from his treatise on the Religious Affections.
 Jonathan Edwards, A Treatise Concerning the Religious Affections (Edinburgh, 1974), pp. 237–9.
 Eifion Evans, ‘The Nature of Christian Experience: The Great Awakening in Wales’, in the Reformation & Revival Journal, vol. 11, no. 3 (Summer 2002), p. 80.
 The prayer requests (let us pray...) that follow are prayers for the distinguishing marks identified by Jonathan Edwards as sound signs of a work of the Spirit of God. These can be found in section 2 of The Distinguishing Marks published by the Banner of Truth in vol. 2 of Edwards’ select works.
 This quote along with many others can be found at the end of the Eifion Evans article mentioned above.
 See the final page of the Eifion Evans article mentioned above.