Three Words That Can Change the Way We See Jesus

September 19, 2016

Matthew 21:1-9

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”


Three words today.

‘Behold, your king . . . 

The word behind the English word is “idou.” Most English translations have come to translate the word as “see,” if they translate it at all. When we read the word, “see,” we think it means to “look” in an ordinary way. Idou carries much more significance and force than that. In the old days bible translators chose the word, “behold.” Behold means to look beyond mere seeing, to listen beyond mere hearing, and to perceive with deeper discernment than our typical faculties of perception permit. (I deal with this in more detail in my book, Not yet Christmas. It’s Time for Advent.)

Behold—Idou—is quite literally a watch-word. It is a signal for us to pay attention in a way beyond our usual way of focusing on something. It means to humbly bow down that we might perceive with the heart. This is the lens we have tried to look through as we have walked through this entire Gospel. This is the way a disciple “sees” Jesus. We behold him.

Why is this necessary? Because this is no ordinary King and because our eyes are clouded with our vision of what we think a king looks like. Humanity has never conceived of a King like this. Watch this. Behold your King, born in a manger. Behold your King lifted up on the Cross. Behold your King laid in the tomb. Behold your King raised from the dead. Behold your King ascending into Heaven. Behold your King seated at the right hand of God.

And lest we forget the admonition from today’s text:

“‘Behold, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey.”

Last Christmas a good friend of mine wrote a masterful song of worship that captures what I’m trying to say today. If you have a few extra minutes, check it out here.


Father, you never wanted us to have a human king, for you wanted to be our King all along. And we confess, all our notions of kings and power have missed the mark. Thank you for Jesus, our true King, fully human and fully God, and thank you for the never ending ways Jesus surprises us with what real authority and power and leadership looks like. We are in awe. Come Holy Spirit and open our hearts to behold him; to see beyond looking, to listen beyond hearing, to know beyond knowledge, . . . yes Lord! Please. In Jesus name, Amen.


1. Idou! Behold! How might this word impact the way you look at Jesus?

2. To behold calls for a certain kind of inner disposition—the Holy Spirit forged disposition of humility. Pride is blinding and even blinds us to our blindness. What will this take for you?

3. When you behold your King, riding on a donkey– what do you see?


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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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