New Testament Theology

Jesus weeps over and then returns to Jerusalem

Jesus’ triumphal entry: JERUSALEM, Sunday, Mt 21:1-11; Mk 11:1-10; Lk 19:29-44; Jn 12:12-19 (OT prophecy: Isa 62:11; Zech 9:9)

(left) Albrecht Durer, Christ returns to Jerusalem

Mt 21:1–11 (NASB95) When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. 3 “If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5  “Say to the daughter of Zion,
      ‘Behold your King is coming to you,
       Gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
       Even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, 7 and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on the coats. 8 Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road. 9 The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting,

Hosanna to the Son of David;
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest!”

10 When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Matthew quotes from this significantly Messianic OT passage:

Zech 9:9-11 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the war-horses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth

Luke adds that Jesus “wept over” Jerusalem on account of its coming destruction and desolation he prophesied (Luke 19:41-45), and which occurred in A.D. 70 by the Romans (cf. 2 Sam 15:30 – when David went up to Jerusalem, weeping on his way). The King of kings does not come to conquer and celebrate his victory in reclaiming his city, rather he weeps at its coming destruction!

Lk 19:41-44 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

Also see Lk 13:34-35 (Mtt 23:37-38) — “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! 35 “Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”[1]

This theme of judgment and desolation of Jerusalem is a frequent one in the OT, especially in the pre-exilic period, but also some prophets point towards a future post-exilic desolation (Jer 12:7), though sometimes it may be figurative of the judgment on those who reject the Messiah. In this case, when many (the Zealots and other worldly-minded) were anticipating Jesus re-claiming the kingdom from the Romans at this time by force, Jesus instead prophetically describes the terrible destruction of the city coming from the Romans (A.D. 70).

Comments:  Jesus’ “triumphal” entry into Jerusalem is the long anticipated arrival of the Messiah into his holy city, as very specific prophecies are here depicted as fulfilled. The term “triumphal” is peculiar when considered from a human perspective, since it would seem quite contrary to a triumph when he comes in apparent weakness and will be killed in the process. Nevertheless, considering the various details of the Gospel testimonies (which each supply unique details), it is a marvel to see Christ’s full control of all that leads up to the Passover of his death.  Nothing is able to pre-empt his plan to reveal to the world God’s purposes and plan, that the coming of salvation and the kingdom of God would be according to God’s way and not mankind’s.  When Jesus comes into Jerusalem riding on a colt he was obviously not coming as the typical ancient king or military conqueror in a gold chariot seeking destruction of enemies, but rather he was coming to procure and offer salvation to those who were his enemies. Jesus’ true glory is most evident here in his humble submission to the will of God to achieve real victory. That is, he will crush the Evil one, and bring a reversal of the curse, not through a powerful military action, nor even by supernatural conquest with angelic hosts, but through fulfilling the law of God and paying the ransom required by God’s character to bring redemption. Zechariah’s prophecy indicated that the Messiah would be gentle and humble and would bring salvation. He would eventually even remove the war machinery through his actions, precisely because he would bring true peace (shalom) not through military conquest but through spiritual conquest. Despite Jesus’ radical departure from the ways of the ancient kings and their kingdoms, his actions still declared him to be the true King of Israel and the world, yet a king of an entirely different order than what had preceded in all of human history. His kingdom will be an eternal one, fulfilling the ancient promises of a human Deliverer from the line of Adam and Eve and Abraham who would sit on the throne of David forever. The gospel narrator is therefore especially concerned to address the question the Gospels seek to answer: “Who is this man?” He is affirmed/proved in the narrative to be:

  • The Lord (worthy of praise, “hosanna!,” “from the lips of infants you have ordained praise,” Mtt 21:126; Ps 8:2)
  • The King (fulfills the Gen 3:15 promise of a human Victor over the enemy and the curse)
  • Gentle (riding on a donkey colt, Zech 9:9, and Zechariah also stresses that this King would bring salvation as well as peace[shalom])
  • The Son of David (the covenant promise of an eternal King)
  • The Prophet (predicts the future and also interprets and applies the Scripture rightly)
  • The “blessed” one who comes in the name of the Lord (the One who represents the Lord YHWH bears his Name, and thus his glory). Luke 19:38 adds, “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And also at the rebuke of the Pharisees, who did not approve of the crowds singing praise to Jesus, he said, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Lk 19:40; cf. Hab 2:11). The creation must praise the One who created it.
  • The One who saves (“hosanna!,” also see Zech 9:9 above).


  • Mt 21:4 – “spoken through the prophet” about riding on a donkey – Is 62:11; Zech 9:9-11.
  • Mt 21:5 – “King” of peace and shalom – he comes to his city and people, but not in victor attire and regalia on a war-horse. See David and donkey in 2 Sam 16:1-12.
  • Mt 21:10 – “the prophet” – Deut 18:18.
  • Mt 21:9 – “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” – Ps 118:36.
  • Lk 19:41 – “he wept” – ἔκλαυσεν (κλαίω; κλαυθμός, οῦ m; κραυγήb, ῆς f: to weep or wail, with emphasis upon the noise accompanying the weeping—‘to weep, to wail, to lament, weeping, crying.’[2]). Recall “Jesus wept” (shortest verse in NT) at the tomb of Lazarus (a different GR word: dakru/w, ἐδάκρυσεν) in Jn 11:35. Some have noted that the kind of grief Jesus feels here is an angry one at death itself, his primary enemy and objective: he must die to overcome death forever. Jesus also seems to have grieved to the point of weeping in the Garden of Gethsemane right before his death (Mt 26:36-46; Lk 22:4-46).
  • Lk 13:35 – “You will not see me again until . . .”— see  Isa 45:23; 22:5; Zech 12:10; Rom 14:11; Php 2:10-11; Rev 1:7.

[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Lk 13:34–35). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[2] Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 303). New York: United Bible Societies.


Jesus’ Temptation and the Old Testament

Setting: the DESERT OF JUDEA, autumn, A.D. 27 (Mt 4:1-11; Mk l:12-13: Lk 4:1-13)

(below) The Temptation of Christ (Bartsch 41, New Hollstein 41, National Gallery Lucas van Leyden 67, Lavalleye 107).
LvL_Temptation_of_Christ2Mt 4:1-11 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’  a5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: ”‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ b ”  7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ d11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Satan’s three-fold temptation of Jesus (to turn stones to bread, to throw himself off the temple, to worship Satan) to disobey God’s commands, twisting scripture, misquoting Ps 91:11, 12, was to deceive/trick/tempt Jesus into failing his mission (to suffer, die, and be raised). Yet as Jesus quotes scripture back to him, he successfully resisted all three temptations.

The tempter begins with a question, “If you are the Son of God.” Ironically,  that is the question all of the Gospels seek to answer (“Who is this man?”), yet it immediately follows here Jesus’ baptism when the Father clearly proclaimed “This is my Son . . .” It is also paralleled at Jesus’ crucifixion when he was taunted and mocked by those who said, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Mtt 27:40).  In each case, these temptations are a tempting/testing of God incarnate, as Jesus notes in v. 7 (see Deut 6:16), but they increase in severity of evil with the final offer of the world’s kingdoms if Jesus would just bow to him in worship. On both accounts, this would have been impossible, since the kingdoms of the world already belonged to Jesus (since he made them; see Mt 9:35-11:1), and they would all probably have ceased to exist if Jesus, the holy incarnate and good Creator, the King of all kings, had bowed and worshiped the Evil One.

It is noteworthy that Satan’s temptation to pre-empt Jesus’ mission (to suffer death) absolutely contradicted the mission of Jesus to suffer in God’s ordained way, and to be raised up in God’s ordained way. Substitutes and short-cuts to redeem the world would end in resolute failure. This is the “testing” (הסנ) of God (prohibited in Deut 6:16; Ex 17:7) that is meant here, alluding to the Mosaic context where Israel was warned to remember to keep God’s commands, take possession of the land, and to worship God alone (not idols as at Massah).

Other OT motifs include the correlation of Adam, the son of God with Christ the only begotten Son of God; the seed promise to Adam and Eve of a Victor over the serpent Satan, as the suffering Servant-Son, he fulfills this covenant promise of redemption. Mosaic typology includes the forty days and forty nights (Moses on Mount Sinai and forty years of wilderness wanderings), stones into bread (miraculous provision of manna), and striking of stone (water). As the Bread of Life, Jesus represents the spiritual significance of the bread of manna in the wilderness, the only bread of salvation that will save the world, and yet he is tempted to make bread out of stones to feed himself. The OT temple imagery is also profoundly significant here, since the highest point of the temple represents the entire history of the redemption theme of the restored Presence of God, the sanctuary sacrifices, and all that the temple represented, which would have been lost if Jesus had tested God by leaping from its highest point (see Heb 2:17-18). The True High Priest would have totally profaned his task and failed to complete his mission to enter the Most Holy Place in God’s appointed way, through the Cross. Jesus is the OT Lamb that would be led to the slaughter at his first coming, and only at his second at the end of the age would he come in full glorious splendor. The temptations also highlight the OT motif of the truly wise man, able to discern truth from lies, as the Logos of the universe, the most intelligent human to have ever lived, he vanquishes the Evil one through successfully fulfilling Adam’s prophetic, priestly, and kingly roles perfectly. In each temptation, Jesus responds to the lying Tempter by quoting appropriate Scriptures. He then had authority to cast away Satan, and fulfills the promise to Adam and Eve that their descendant would crush the Serpent’s head, even though his heal would be struck (Gen 3:15).

 a Deut. 8:3
 b Psalm 91:11,12. Satan omits the phrase “in all thy ways.”
 d Deut. 6:13

Chronology and harmony in the ancient Gospel testimonies answering the question, “Who is Jesus?”

Jesus healing blind by RembrandtCredible harmonization of the Gospel narratives is possible, even if not perfect in every single incidence, since each author had particular purposes and audiences that influenced their organization of the material. Because we cannot always be perfectly satisfied that the accounts are completely harmonized, it does not mean we cannot get a sufficient grasp of their harmony and consistency.[1] This question especially corresponds to the issues of the chronology and historicity of the Gospels themselves, but it can be affirmed that the similarities and the overall harmony of the Gospels indicate fully authentic historical accounts for them all.

In seeking to harmonize the life of Jesus, it is done for purposes of understanding the unified witness of all four inspired authors to the whole story, yet we must be careful not to diminish the unique integrity of each individual witness, assuming that each is inspired for particular purposes. While acknowledging the individual Gospels as each inspired witnesses with important perspectives and emphases, we also affirm the validity of seeing each of these together in the context of the whole presentation of the life of Jesus.  Indeed, we read harmonistically so as to more adequately compare the accounts in terms of their similarities and differences. Differences between the accounts can usually be understood as complementary perspectives/emphases, and not in any case are they contradictions. Comparatively, the Gospel of John is the most difficult to harmonize chronologically with the Synoptic Gospels. John’s purpose may have been largely to supplement the Synoptic Gospels, otherwise he may have written independently of them. Silence about an incident by one author that is mentioned in another(s) does not impugn in any way the historical credibility of the author who is silent on the incidence; it only shows that one author gave more information, or unique information, that simply complements the entirely of the four Gospel accounts of Christ’s life. Inspiration and infallibility do not demand that any particular author know all incidences nor record all that was known (see Jn 21:25).  As Tenney stated it:

“The Gospels are much more concerned with presenting a persona than with writing a story. Not the completeness or the order of the account, but its significance is important. The differences between the varying reports indicate that they are supplementary, and probably undesignedly so as far as the human authors are concerned.”[2]

[1] The earliest example of an attempt to harmonize all four gospels is from Tatian in A.D. 170. He was a disciple of Justin.

[2] Tenney, NT Survey, p. 210.

New Testament Use of the Old Testament Exegesis and Interpretation by Beale

Beale’s Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation

  1. Identify the OT reference
  2. Analyze the broad NT context
  3. Survey the OT context, broadly and immediately
  4. Survey the use of the OT text in early Judaism
  5. Compare the texts (LXX, MT, etc)
  6. Analyze the author’s use of the OT
  7. Analyze the hermeneutical use of the OT Text
  8. Analyze the theological use of the OT Text
  9. Analyze the rhetorical use of the OT text.

Who is This Man? Reading Biblical Narratives

See the whole essay at Who is this Man and the Whole Story of Redemption

 Who is This Man?
How To Read Biblical Narratives

Stephen Hague
June, 2016

Table of contents

I.___ The fragmentation of the biblical text by liberals and conservatives 2

II.__ The antidote to fragmentation: Biblical Theology_ 2

  1. To illustrate this definition of Biblical Theology, consider an analogy in music 3
  2. To illustrate our definition of Biblical Theology, consider the analogies found in art 5
  3. To illustrate our definition of Biblical Theology, consider the analogies found in  literature_ 8
  4. To illustrate our definition of Biblical Theology, consider the story of Elijah, a prophet of God: 1 Ki 17:1-24_ 9
  5. To illustrate our definition of Biblical Theology, consider the story the Storm on the Sea of Galilee:  “What kind of man is this?_ 14

III.                   In conclusion, some of the problems with exemplorizing and spiritualizing biblical narratives: 15

IV.___ Biblical Theology bibliography_ 16

V.__ Illustrations 18

See the whole essay at Who is this Man and the Whole Story of Redemption


Joyous laughter

“Who is the most intelligent, creative, witty, an joyful human being in the universe? Jesus Christ.
Whose laughter will be loudest and most contagious on the New Earth? Jesus Christ’s.

When we face difficulty and discouragement in this world, we must keep our eyes on the source of our joy. Remember, ‘Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh‘ (Luke 6:21, emphasis added).”

From Heaven by Randy Alcorn, Tyndale House, 2014, p. 410.