As we begin to focus on the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry, we begin with His significant triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This event is described in all four gospels  and is specifically prophesied by the prophet Zechariah (Zech. 9:9) and in so many other indirect ways in the Old Testament, such as this passage which we have just read in Isaiah, which precedes the famous Isaiah 53 passage which we shall consider on Easter Friday and also on a special occasion on Saturday.
Today we remember the occasion when Jesus, as the chosen servant of God came, riding on a humble donkey to fulfil the work that the Father had given Him to do in laying down His life for His people. As He entered the city, He was most surprisingly received in the manner of a conquering King, although “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him…” (53:2), and yet the crowd received Him with these words, "Hosanna to the Son of David”. This was tantamount to saying (and so it was understood by the Pharisees e.g. in Lk 19:39) that He was the long expected Messiah of Israel.
In Luke’s account of the triumphal entry, Jesus following His entrance is deeply disturbed at what He sees. In fact He weeps over Jerusalem (see Lk 19:41- 44 ; and see also Lk 13:34 – 35). This act is followed by the famous temple cleansing (Lk. 19:45-48; Matt 21:12-17)
It is particularly Lk 13:34 – 35 that gives us an insight into the spiritual state of Jerusalem. It was this city that had killed the prophets. It was this city that would kill the Son of God, and amazingly, Jesus knew that this was going to happen! What was the purpose for which Jesus rode into Jerusalem to lay down His life? It was to hand Himself over to wicked men to do what they had wanted to do all along, BUT in this atrocious act He would make atonement for sin! By His death He would secure eternal life for all his own people, for all those “who did receive Him, who believed in His Name” (John 1:12). It was ultimately to secure for them a future, not in this earthly Jerusalem, but in the new, the heavenly Jerusalem, the home of every true believer which Jesus went to prepare in John 14:1-4 and of which we read in Revelation 21.
Now we know from the history of Jerusalem that she had been besieged and captured many times. In the days of Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem, this city was sacked eventually by the Babylonians in around 586 BC. She was burned and destroyed and her people taken into exile in Babylon, just as Isaiah and Jeremiah and others had said. But before that, approximately 135 years earlier, in the days of Isaiah, this city was also threatened by the Assyrians who did in fact capture the northern territory of Israel and with it 10 tribes, who were sent into exile in 722 BC (2 Kings 17:5ff). All prophets, particularly the major prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah, and later the Lord Jesus, God’s final Revelation (Hebr. 1:1-3) saw that the continued rebellion of this city that had experienced so much of God’s favour, in terms of hosting the temple of God, and therefore the visible presence of God in Israel, that this city would face the wrath of God. This leading city of the Jews had lost the vision of God in her midst.
Now Isaiah’s prophecy can be divided into two parts. The first part, Chapters 1-35 focus on God’s judgement on Israel, the northern kingdom, by Assyria; then there is a ‘bridge’ in Chapters 36-39 before the prophecy closes with the second major part in chapters 40 – 66, where we find a vision of the return of the remnant from Babylon.
The point is this. Isaiah’s vision is big! Not only does he include future events from his own perspective in about 722 BC; Isaiah sees the restoration of Israel after the Babylonian captivity, much later in 520 BC, when he was long dead. But more than that, Isaiah’s prophecy anticipates the ministry and mission of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ (whom we shall meet as the suffering servant in Isaiah 53) more than 700 years later! And from our perspective Isaiah foresees even more than that. He foresees the rule and restoration of all things under Christ in days to come, which, from our perspective, is STILL in the future!
Now from the present perspective of Isaiah, and from Christ’s perspective, when He rode into Jerusalem, and also from our own perspective, this earthly Jerusalem was and is anything but a holy city. But Isaiah sees beyond that and he like His Messiah, the Lord Jesus look to the far future when things will look very different. And it all began on that day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem. On this day He came to Jerusalem to secure the future of the inhabitants of a far greater Jerusalem. He came to do this in His death and resurrection which is described in Isaiah 53. In preparation for that I want you then to take a look with me at this text which precedes the phenomenal events of Isaiah 53, just as the triumphal entry preceded the phenomenal events of the week that lay ahead:
1.Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean.
Obviously, the prophet is not speaking here of a political entity called Jerusalem. He is speaking of that future city where there shall be no sin – the heavenly Jerusalem of Revelation 21. That is the city that Jesus ultimately came to establish when He came riding into this sinful Jerusalem, that killed the prophets, and therefore the prophet continues …
2. Shake yourself from the dust and arise; be seated, O Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion. What did the Lord Jesus achieve in his death and resurrection? He purchased freedom for a people in the dust, a people enslaved by sin. He freed them for citizenship in the new Jerusalem, by the shedding of His blood.
3. For thus says the Lord: “You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money.” What does this mean? In context this would refer to the Babylonian captivity. Babylon acquired Judah and paid nothing for her when they took her captive in 586 BC. However, roughly 70 years later under Cyrus the Persian and then Artaxerxes  she was freed without the payment of money, when men like Ezra and Nehemiah led the people back to Jerusalem from captivity, being in fact supported by the Babylonians to rebuild Jerusalem. But in a greater sense it would mean that the sin which our first father Adam committed, and of which we had borne the fruit, would now be borne by Christ in His death, BUT no one has to pay for their redemption. It was free for those who would take it. This was the purpose for which Jesus came to ride into the city!
4 For thus says the Lord God: “My people went down at the first into Egypt to sojourn there, and the Assyrian oppressed them for nothing. Israel’s first stint away from their earthly Jerusalem in Canaan was experienced when they had lived for 430 years in Egypt, after which they returned under Moses and Joshua to Canaan, their promised land. Then David established the physical Jerusalem for Israel, but under the often foolish rule of his grandsons, substantial chunks of the kingdom were gradually lost – first under the Assyrians, who claimed the northern kingdom of Israel.
In Christ’s day the Jews were oppressed by the Romans, and the Jews hoped for their Messiah to return to deliver them from the Roman yoke. But was this ultimately the yoke that they needed to be delivered from? Was not the yoke of sin their ultimate problem? And who alone could effectively deal with sin, if not the Son of God? And so Jesus rode into Jerusalem …
5 Now therefore what have I here,” declares the Lord, “seeing that my people are taken away for nothing? Their rulers wail,” declares the Lord, “and continually all the day my name is despised. Many a time when Israel was attacked by her enemies (no doubt, due to their own foolishness, which resulted in the hand of God being lifted from them), their enemies were blaspheming the name of God when they taunted Israel: “Where now is your God?” (e.g. Ps 42:10; 115:2; Joel 2:17). In truth, this was also the general attitude of the Jews to Jesus. When he hung on the cross they mocked Him, saying: “He saved others, let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One.”(Lk. 23:35). The truth was that in continually mocking Christ they were continually mocking the work of God. And so Christ rode into Jerusalem on this day to make a distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous!
6 Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here I am.” In the historical context the release from Babylonian captivity and the rebuilding of Jerusalem would be a true testimony to the power of God. Nehemiah confirms this in Neh.6:15,16 when he says, “… all the nations around us …perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God !” But in a greater sense the greatest work would be the establishment of the eternal city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, which would be populated by those who had been redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Jesus came riding into Jerusalem to declare that He would do this ON THE CROSS! This is therefore what gives rise to the next verse! Here is the gospel of the good news for all the people… for all the nations !
7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” Paul quotes this passage in Rom 10:15. The point is that whatever historical situation brought the good news in Isaiah’s day, he was looking much further, when our Messiah made the gospel terms effective by His death and resurrection .For this reason Jesus came riding into Jerusalem.
8 The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the Lord to Zion. In the historical setting this was accomplished when God restore the Jews to liberty under the leadership of men like Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. Yet again, and in a greater sense, these things were fulfilled in Christ’s coming into Jerusalem for this purpose – that He might lay down His life for a great number of people and to establish for them a city whose foundations cannot be shaken.
9 Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem. 10 The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. Historical deliverance happened under Cyrus, (2 Chron. 36:22,23). The Lord displayed his power among the Medes and Persians, but afterwards he made it visible to all the nations. But again, see the ultimate fulfilment in this text. The Abrahamic covenant is being fulfilled, as not only Jews but gentiles were participating in the salvation of God in Christ. All this began to be fulfilled in Christ riding into Jerusalem to lay down His life for Jews and gentiles.
11 Depart, depart, go out from there; touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her; purify yourselves, you who bear the vessels of the Lord. 12 For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard. In context this was a call to all the Jews to leave Babylon, and to leave the things of Babylon behind. Those that were carrying the vessels of the Lord ( i.e. the vessels for the temple), the priests, these were to be especially consecrated.
The redeemed would not need to leave in haste as they had done when they left Egypt in the Exodus. They were completely free. God would go before to lead them and behind to protect them as they journeyed to their Promised Land (cf. Exodus 13:21-22; Exodus 14:19-20). In our context, it is important that we need to leave the city of destruction and make sure that we are on the road to the heavenly Jerusalem. (Pilgrims Progress)
Here then, in this part of Isaiah’s prophecy the dual implications of the prophet's promises are very clear. The Babylonian captivity formed the background to what Isaiah said, but Isaiah had the larger issue of slavery to sin in mind. Return to the land was in view, but even more so, the opportunity to return to the Lord through spiritual redemption was his greater focus. God would deal with the result in Israel's case, captivity, but He would also and more importantly deal with the great cause of every man's problem, namely sin !
All this Jesus came to do when he rode on that donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
Hallelujah, what a Word!
Hallelujah, what a Saviour!
 Matthew 21: 1- 11 ; Mark 11:1-11 ; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19
 Note the four servant passages in this regard : 42:1-9; 49:1-7 ; 50:4-11 ; 52:13-53:12
 i.e. as the Lamb of God for His sheep
 Lit. “save now”
 This city was captured by David from the Jebusites in 2 Samuel 5:6-10 , after which it was called “the city of David”
 The proper parameters for this text is Isaiah 51:1-52:12. The chapter division at 52:1 is unfortunate . Similarly the chapter division should not begin with 53:1, as it does, but should start at 52:13.
Outline of Ch. 51:1- 52:12 : 1. A threefold call to listen : i.e. 51 : 1; 4; 7 2. A threefold exhortation to awake : 51:9;17 & 52:1
 Ezra 1:1; 4:7
 Ezra 1:2ff ;Neh. 2:8