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Jesus, Geography & Divine Titles

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Along the Road Online Biblical Study
Reading Assignment – Part 4
Listen to the Audio version | Reading Time: 7 minutes

On Saturday, May 6, 2023, over 20 million people turned on their TVs to join the hundreds of thousands of people gathered at Westminster Abbey in London, England, to watch and join in the festivities of the coronation of Charles III, as king of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms. 

The structure of the ceremony was similar to an Anglican service of Holy Communion. Symbolizing the spiritual role and secular responsibilities, Charles took an oath, was anointed with holy oil, and received the coronation regalia. There was an enormous state procession of the royal family and hundreds of military servicemen and women on parade to and from Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. The musicians played instruments, and the crowds cheered and shouted as the royal horse-drawn Diamond Jubilee State Coach and gilded Gold State coach rode by. 

The coronation of a king has continued to be, just as it has been all throughout history, a very big, very public display of power and prestige.  

Who’s coronation day will it be?

Historical and Cultural Context

1 Kings 1 tells of the events of a coronation day that did not exactly go according to plan. Well that is, at least not to one individual’s plans. 

King David was very old, and everyone was anticipating the inevitable transition of title and authority. His son Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, organized a plan to declare himself king. He made his plans and arrangements and began the ceremonies. But all of his attempts at taking the throne were no match to the plan God had set into motion many years before.

In 1 Chronicles 22, God explains His plan for Israel’s royal line of succession: 

Behold, a son shall be born to you who shall be a man of rest. I will give him rest from all his surrounding enemies. For his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. He shall build a house for my name. He shall be my son, and I will be his father, and I will establish his royal throne in Israel forever.’”
1 Chronicles 22:9-10, NIV 

There is no way for us to know for certain why God decided to fulfill His covenant with David through Solomon. However, it is clear that God’s ways and reasons for choosing a king are vastly different from the common legitimacy criteria that tend to be followed.

We read in 2 Samuel 12 that God, following devastating punishment for his sinful behavior, allowed David to comfort his wife Bathsheba, and she became pregnant with a son. Verses 24-25 tell us that when she gave birth to a son, they named him Solomon.

The Lord loved him. And because the Lord loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah (which means “loved by God”). It is here at Solomon’s birth that we start to see direct connections as God begins to use Solomon as a foreshadowing for Jesus. We will hear God speak these words again many years later when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River and a voice came from heaven saying,

You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.
Mark 1:11, NIV.

King David makes Solomon King

When King David heard of Adonija’s sneaky coronation celebrations, he remembered the covenant God made with him that Solomon would be the next king. Therefore, he ordered a priest, a prophet, and other officials to take Solomon and have him ride the king’s own donkey down to the Gihon spring, where he would be anointed with oil. King David expected there to be loud blasts from trumpets and shouts of “Long live King Solomon!” during the procession and ending with King Solomon on the throne, as the appointed ruler over Israel and Judah.

And the procession and ceremony went just as King David had ordered.

So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, the Kerethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon mount King David’s mule, and they escorted him to Gihon. Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the sacred tent and anointed Solomon. Then they sounded the trumpet and all the people shouted, “Long live King Solomon!” And all the people went up after him, playing pipes and rejoicing greatly, so that the ground shook with the sound.
1 Kings 1:38-40, NIV

It was the noise from the great celebrations echoing through the valley that announced to Adonija that his plan to take the throne had failed and Solomon had officially been crowned king. 

Coronation Procession Route in Jerusalem

Understanding the geography of where Solomon’s coronation took place helps us to better understand the significance of what happened that day and see the foreshadowing of when a very similar celebration would take place many years later. 

Geographical & Linguistic Context


31° 46’ 38” N, 35° 15’ 02” E 

Bethphage (Ancient Greek: Βηθφαγή, romanized: Bēthpagḗ; Imperial Aramaic: בֵּית פַּגִּי, romanized: Bêt̲ Paggî, lit. ’house of unripe figs’)[1] or Bethsphage,[2] is a Christian religious site on the Mount of Olives east of historical Jerusalem.

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bethphage

“According to Jewish literature, Bethpage was considered the city limits of Jerusalem. For example, according to the Mishnah, bread prepared for use in the Temple was considered to have been made in the city of Jerusalem if it were made in Bethpage.
James C. Martin, John A. Beck, and David G. Hansen, A Visual Guide to Gospel Events, page 137

Gihon Spring

31° 46’ 49”N, 35° 14’ 17”E

Gihon Spring (Hebrew: מעיין הגיחון) or Fountain of the Virgin,[1] also known as Saint Mary’s Pool,[2] is a spring in the Kidron Valley. It was the main source of water for the Pool of Siloam in Jebus and the later City of David, the original site of Jerusalem

Gihon is the name of one of the four rivers coming from Eden (Genesis 2:13). The name Gihon is thought to derive from the Hebrew Giha which means “gushing forth”.[7] The city of Jerusalem’s modern waterworks corporation, Hagihon, is named after the spring.

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gihon_Spring
Discovery House Bible Atlas, John A. Beck, pg. 267

They had seen this before

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 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.  If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
Matthew 21:1-3, NIV

Jesus had just walked for at least twenty minutes up a steep path from Bethany to Bethpage. The rest of the journey was downhill toward the Gihon Spring. It is obvious His request for a donkey was not about making His trip easier or more comfortable.

By sending His disciples ahead of Him and requesting a donkey, Jesus made a huge political and religious statement. He was participating in a Roman custom called “Angaria”, where a major political or religious leader could request livestock if they needed it. Through Jesus’ request, He established who He was!

It was at this moment that Jesus became so much more than just a traveler, a rabbi, or even a miracle worker. He was declaring, to everyone gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Feast, that He was a King and the fulfillment of prophecies found in Zechariah 9 and 14.

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Zechariah 9:9, NIV

He is the One the people of Israel had been waiting for. Jesus was following in the footsteps of King Solomon–riding on a donkey and declaring that He was the new King, the long-awaited Messiah!

As Jesus rode down the Mount of Olives on a road that overlooked the Kidron Valley going towards the Gihon Springs, the crowd saw Jesus‘s silhouette superimposed on the City of David, and they made the powerful connection. Their ancestors had seen this before!

“The symmetry with Solomon’s coronation is unmistakable– history appears to be repeating itself. It looks like a son of David is on his way toward the Gihon Spring, where he will be crowned king of Israel. The place makes the people think “coronation” – so the idea of a king is intimately linked to the events of Palm Sunday.”

John A. Beck, Along the Road, page 124

The crowds recognized Him as the new son of David, the long-awaited One, who had been prophesied, and Who would sit on the throne forever, just as God had promised.

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 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!”
Matthew 21:9, NIV 

They waved palm branches as a symbol of Jewish nationalism, believing that this new king would be a great king like David, who would bring freedom, remove foreign powers, and return Israel to the great nation it once was. The people rejoiced and shouted the last of the Hallel Psalms that were sung during Passover. Because these Psalms mention the deliverance from captivity in Egypt, they’d developed Messianic undertones.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Psalm 118: 26, NIV

 Jesus, Geography and Divine Titles 

Jesus was intentional about every detail of that day, which we now celebrate as Palm Sunday. He knew the timing had to be just right for the hearts and minds of the people of Israel to be focused on the Passover celebrations, so they could recognize what was happening.

He was strategic and bold, as He sent His disciples to go get Him a donkey as a symbol proclaiming His power and authority. And Jesus knew the essential piece geography of Bethpage and the Gihon Spring would play in helping to spread the news that He was indeed the son of David, the long-awaited King, the Messiah!

Resources to Study Further:

1. God had explained His plan to King David, for Israel’s royal line of succession.
2. King David ensured Solomon was the next king according to God’s plan. 
3. Jesus followed the same route as Solomon’s coronation procession.
4. The Jewish people celebrating the Passover recognized Jesus as a son of David and celebrated Him as their next king.

How was the Old Testament title “king” linked to the Gihon Spring?
What does it mean for you that Jesus is the King?

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Along the Road | John A. Beck

A 5-week study providing a fresh perspective of Bible stories separated by centuries, but related by shared geography, and delve into the conversations that would have happened along the road with Jesus in the first century.

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Along the Road by John A. Beck - Winter Online Biblical Study | Intentionalfilling.com

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