April 9, 2017
Servant King – Week 13 – The Triumphal Entry?
Servant King – Week 13 – The Triumphal Entry?
Last week we ended with Jesus and His disciples in a conflict with the “Teachers of the Law”. Ultimately we saw that the disciples could not cast out a demon, They had failed! But we learned the big truth that failure does not define us it develop. Michael actually changed it and I think I like it even better. Failure doesn’t define us it refines us. Now that is good. How many of you failed in some way this week? Her is great news God is still working on you. He is refining you, he is developing you. Can I get an Amen? HE is the one who saves.
Today we jump ahead in the story to match the day we are in today (palm Sunday). We will look at what is commonly called The Triumphal Entry. In most of Christianity this is a day of celebration. It is a day that is widely misunderstood. Turn in your Bibles to Mark 11. This event is actually recorded in all four of the Gospels (Matt 21; Mark 11, Luke 19; John 12). But, this day was in fact far from a celebration day. The reason for that was the fact that the people that Jesus had come to save largely rejected him. Jesus was not coming as a Triumphant King the way they thought He should. Today as we look at this I want us to look deep into our own lives and inspect. Do we do the same thing? Do we reject Jesus for who He truly is and instead try to make Him something that we want to control on our own terms.
Oh Jesus, would you allow us to see you for who you are, not who we want you to be. Will you open our eyes and reveal to us how you want is to respond to you and your world today.
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’”
Jesus is coming close to Jerusalem, the place where in a few days He is going to be condemned and put to death. We know that He is coming from Jericho and is on a mission to enter into Jerusalem. Is about to fulfill prophecy and it must be now. We often think that the events of Jesus life were almost random. But Jesus has very specific things He must do at very specific times, and this is one of those times. Psalm 118:22-24 is being fulfilled. “This is the day the Lord has made”
4 And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. 5 And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go.
I always wondered who is willing to give up a donkey to a couple of guys just because they ask for it but as we discover they are coming up to the town of Bethany this is where Mary, Martha and Lazarus live. In fact that is where Jesus will stay for a few of his last days, so it would not be beyond possibility that Jesus tells a couple of His disciples to run ahead and get the colt from them and that their household would not object on the words of “The Lord has need of it”
This to me is one of the most simple but powerful lessons. God is in control of everything and when He needs something He asks for it. Are we willing to release it on His word knowing that He will take care of it and return it to us? This is the challenge of every person who tithes. Are we willing to part with what we have for God to use it for His purposes? They respond to Jesus in the right way but we will see that ultimately most of the people will not.
7 And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8 And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
Hosanna means “Save us now”. But the word had lost it’s meaning and had become a common phrase of greeting at passover. The deep richness of the passover week had been obscured by a festival atmosphere where thousands of people crowded the streets of Jerusalem to have a party instead of understanding the gravity of the moment they were in. In fact we see in Luke 19, that as Jesus entered into the city Instead of being joyful and happy he instead was weeping.
41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
This is not the picture I grew up with on palm Sunday how about you? But this is what the Bible tells us.
11 And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
Jesus enters into Jerusalem and does a survey trip to the temple. We see this very simple statement that He looks around at “everything”. The Jewish temple was an incredible sight. At this time it was still under construction and it would not be finished for another 30 years but even in His day it was magnificent. It was the largest religious structure in the World at that time. Some of the foundation stones where larger than those used to construct the pyramids, and everything was cover in gold. If we don’t read on we might think that Jesus is admiring the beauty of the Temple and what is happening there, but sadly that is not the case. Jesus leaves and goes back to Bethany and will return the next day to deal with the situation.
On a side note the temple was not finished, but remember Paul tells us we are the temple of God. We are not finished either! Just because the temple is not finished does not give us a pass to be about the purpose He has created us for. We often think when I get everything in order then I will serve God. When I figure this out then I can tell others. That is not the way God works.
12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry.
Now this is just speculation for me but I see this statement and I wonder “Why is Jesus hungry?” Surely Martha would have fixed Jesus anything He wanted to eat. This is where a little biblical imagination. comes into play. I know when ever I am stressed or bothered about something I have to tackle the next day I sometimes loose my appetite. I also don’t sleep too well. I can imagine Jesus the night and morning before having not eaten. Either in apprehension or maybe he spent the night fasting and praying. Either way we are told Jesus is hungry.
13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
Wow, that is a strange response for Jesus. Some people are really bothered by this. In fact I have read of some atheist who use this as an excuse to attack Jesus’ character. That He took out His frustrations on a poor defenseless tree. Environmentalist have a real hard time with this. To curse a tree when it is not even time for it to have fruit. But look carefully it does not say that He could not find any ripe figs. It says he could not find anything. There is more here than meets the eye. but lets keep going and we will come back to this tree in a few verses.
15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.
This is what Jesus had observed back in vs 11 where it says “he had looked around at everything”. He saw that the people who should be leading the nation of Israel in a time of repentance and cleansing, of sober reflection of the amazing work of God on their behalf. In the truth that God calls His people to be holy, to be set free from slavery, to know that because of the blood of the Lamb, that He will passover them and their sin. That He is a forgiving God, that He loves them but that He wants them to respond to Him in the right way, and that as they do that they are then a witness to the rest of the World.
Most biblical scholars believe that this was the second time that Jesus cleanses the temple. The first happened in the beginning of His ministry when he visited Jerusalem the first time. This is reflective of the Levitical Laws about Cleansing of a House in Leviticus 14:33–53. It talks about how the High Priest must go into a house and inspect it, find the leprosy in the house, the mold and uncleanness Declare what must be cleaned up. Then he is to return after 7 days and inspect again. If the uncleanness continues or spreads then the House is to be destroyed. Can you imagine Jesus returning to the temple knowing that he has to pronounce judgment on the Temple? Can you imagine the swarm of emotions he is dealing with. He loves these people. He desires for them to repent. To come back to God. To cast out the uncleanness of their worship. His heart is breaking, and he is angry about how they have let the enemy come into their worship and infect it. Notice that even in His righteous anger does Jesus take out His anger on people. In fact we see great care and restraint in our Savior.
You see those who came to the temple came from all over the world to learn and worship the one true God. If they did not have the “right money” they had to exchange the money they had for what was excepted in the temple. It tells us that Turned over money tables, because they were cheating the people in exchange rates. He drove out those who bought and sold in the temple. What is that about. What we learn is that there was a process by which when you brought a sacrifice before God their were rules about the sacrifice. It had to be an animal without blemish. So the priest would inspect the animals and other offerings and then “if it was not kosher” they would tell them that they needed to go and buy a sacrifice from the vendors would were already approved. It was a racket. There was kickbacks and schemes to raise the profits. Next, He over turned the seats of those selling doves. Notice He did not set the doves free He just flipped over their chairs. In the temple if you were poor and you could not afford the larger sacrifice, God provided the ability to bring 2 doves instead. Some estimates tell us that they were charging 16x the normal price for 2 pidgeons. ($.25 to $4) Not only were they cheating the rich people, but they were taking advantage of the poor as well. Finally, it says he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. They were using the temple courts as a shortcut. People were just nonchalantly walking through the temple courts instead of reverently approaching God as they should. This was out of hand and it was calling into question the reputation of the Almighty God to those around.
17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”
Jesus then reminds them what this was all about.
My house… God takes it personal when His temple is profaned.
House of prayer… there was to be a reverence in this time. They were in a most holy time were they were to reflect on His setting them free from their bondage.
Notice the phrase… for all the nations. Jesus says this is not just about you. It is about the world around you viewing this thing.
The popular belief was that when the Messiah came He would purge the temple of Gentiles, Instead Jesus comes and cleanses the temple for Gentiles
18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared Him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they went out of the city.
This group is out for blood literally, but ultimately the reason for this is because they feared Him. Why did they fear Him. Because He was doing what they were supposed to be doing and He calls them out on it. They should have been leading the people in righteousness but instead they were worried more about their own power, prestige and position. They had watered down the truth to the point that they had fallen into a pattern that anything goes. And Jesus confronts them. But the people were moved by the truth. And Jesus leaves with sadness and grief in His heart.
20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
So now we get back to this fig tree. This story is really book ending what happened in the temple. The truth is that Jesus cursing the tree and the tree withering was a picture of what was happening in the temple. Remember the tree had leaves it looked alive. Jesus expected to see something of fruit growing on the tree but ultimately it was fruitless. It had a form of life but there was no fruit. In 2 Timothy 3 Paul says in the last days there will be people who have a form of godliness but deny the power of it. They look alive but are truly dead. They are fruitless. When Jesus sees fruitlessness He condemns it. This is what the worship of the temple was. It had a form of godliness, It look sort of like worship but it lacked any true power. Peter sees this and is amazed. This scene should remind us of another story in the Bible Jonah. Jonah was told to go proclaim the truth that God is holy and righteous, that He does not let sin go unchecked. Jonah becomes a reluctant missionary. He goes but He does not want to. He preaches and the people repent. He decides to go sulk because God spares them and God grows a plant to shade him, then makes it die overnight so he has no more shade. Jonah gets mad because the plant dies. God condemns him because he is more worried about the plant than He is about the people. Here Jesus withers a fig tree, in scripture the Fig tree was a symbol of Israel and the blessings He would give to it. So Jesus prophetically condemning Israel for not fulfilling the purpose God had for it. To be a light to all the nations. To display His glory and to draw the nations to Himself. They forgot that they were missionaries.
22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” 26 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
This part confused me at first until I understood that this is what they should have been teaching in the temple. Faith is God alone. The kind of faith that does not doubt the power of God. Remember Jesus said my house should be called a house of prayer. Jesus is teaching them what prayer is really about. Prayer only works when coupled with faith, and forgiveness. Do you struggle with prayer? which is your biggest struggle? Faith or forgiveness? True believing prayer is not an attempt to get God to change His will to fit our plans. It is a passioinate pursuit to see God’s plans accomplished in us!
27 And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, 28 and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?”
This is by far the most formidable group that Jesus faces (outside of the romans) This is the chief preists, the scribes and the elders. This group is better know by the name The Sanhedrin. This was the most powerful most influential religious group of the Jewish faith. They come to to Jesus demanding an answer. What gives you the right to condemn us? Who do you think you are? What is your authority to question us and what we do? They do not recognize Him as God.
When God confronts us on our sin, what is our response? Are we like David who is soft hearted and willing to repent? Or, are we obstinate and hard hearted unwilling to be gathered together in His arms?
29 Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.”
Jesus shoot back to them with a deal. You answer my question and I will answer yours. Jesus’ tone is hard and fast. Where did John get His authority from? then he demands an answer from them. Jesus is fed up with this game they are trying to play. He has given them plenty of chances to come to repentance but in the end they refuse to show the “fruit of repentance” Matthew 3:8.
31 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 32 But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. 33 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Here are three responses I see that ring true today as they did for this group, about those who are unwilling to follow Jesus.
1. They do not want to submit to His authority.
They are not motivated by a willingness to know who He is. They have no interest in bringing their lives under His authority. We all have a source of authority in our lives, like the Sanhedrin, for many of us it is ourselves. We are not really interested in surrendering that rule to anyone else even God.
2. They refuse to examine the truth of who Jesus is.
Notice they do not deny that Jesus has the authority instead they argue on how they can dismiss the claim.
3. They fear Men more than God
It says they were afraid of the people’s response. Not that they really cared what God thought. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom Prov 9:10
4. We do not know… Their response is actually a lie. They would rather keep their pride and position and live in a lie than submit to Christ and walk in the truth.
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