In the last week before Jesus was crucified, He went into Jerusalem and turned the religious establishment upside-down by going into the temple and driving out the corrupt money-changers who were in cahoots with the corrupt priests.
WHAT RIGHT DID JESUS HAVE TO UPSET THE RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT?
In response to these events of Luke 19, the priests came to Jesus and asked by what authority He acted and spoke and what right did He have to upset their religious establishment?
As children, as parents and as citizens we all understand the concept of authority. Authority denotes power, permission, responsibility, and control. We all exercise and/or submit to human authority.
However, Jesus, who is God in human flesh, stands apart from all others when it comes to authority. Though Luke 2:51 tells us that as a child, Jesus was submissive to His mother and step-father and was respectful to His elders; as a grown man from the time He commenced His earthly ministry at the age of 30, He exercised authority as no other human.
Though submitted to His Heavenly Father, the authority He exercised throughout His ministry, was unlike anyone else. Whatever He did, wherever He went, His power and authority was absolute and unlimited by any man. No one told Him what to do or where to go or what to say. His authority was absolutely unique. In Matthew 7:28-29 we read that Jesus spoke as one having authority; in contrast to the teaching of the scribes, which must have been a boring experience to sit through.
In Luke 4:36 we have a sampling of the two Greek words that speak of Jesus power and authority. Dunamis is the Greek word that speaks of power, a word from which we get the word dynamite. Exousia is the Greek word for authority. Jesus had absolute power and absolute authority to do whatever He desired in Bible times and He has that same power and authority today and throughout all eternity.
He has authority to save anyone who comes to Him in saving faith. John 1:12
He has authority to forgive sins, authority belonging only to God. Matthew 9:1-8
He has authority over demon powers. Matthew 10:1
He has authority to lay down His life in death and authority to take it again, which He did when He raised people from the dead and when He Himself arose from the dead. John 10:18
He has the keys to death and Hell. Revelations 1:18. Keys speak of authority.
We American like to speak about our rights. We once had a flag picturing a coiled rattle snake with the words, “Don’t tread on me!” I love that independent American spirit and have some of it myself. However, under God, none of us has any rights, but to die and go to hell for our sins. All we are and all we have is only by the grace of God.
The Jewish leaders in that final week before Jesus was crucified recognized and were confounded by Jesus, the personification of absolute power and authority. As God in human flesh, He never had to ask for permission from anyone for what He did or said.
When you, as a teen, say “I don’t have to listen to my parents or teachers. I can do whatever I please”, then you are acting as though you were your own god. By rebelling at authority, you are rebelling against God.
Now getting back to the events of Luke 19, when Jesus cleansed the Temple and drove out the money-changers with a whip, He got no permission from human authority. He was acting by His own power and authority as God.
He called the temple, “My House”. He totally ignored the entire religious system of His day, with it’s corrupt priesthood. He was totally indifferent to their Councils, and opinions. Can you see why the chief priests and elders were furious with Him and wanted to kill Him?
Understand that Jesus was not received, accredited or approved by the world. John 1:11-12 and 15:18-21 teach this. It was also prophesied 700 years earlier by Isaiah in Isaiah 53.
With this background, we now approach Luke 20:1-2 as the chief priests, Annas and Caiaphas, and the scribes approached Jesus and asked by what authority He did these things. They were the accepted authorities of Judaism, and they were furious with this intruder upsetting their establishment. They were hell-bent on silencing Him forever.
JESUS’ ANSWER TO HIS ENEMIES
When they asked Jesus by what authority He spoke and acted, Jesus answered them by whose authority did John the Baptist preach and baptize? Was it authority give to Him by God or by men? Luke 20:3-4
They well knew the answer to Jesus’ question. They had been there three years earlier when John baptized Jesus and they heard the voice from Heaven as God the Father spoke to His Son, Jesus, ” Thou art My Son in whom I am well pleased!” Mark 1:1-11 Matthew 3:16-17
They had heard John the Baptist announce Jesus as “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:19-36
Those wicked priests, scribes and Pharisees knew exactly who Jesus was and why He had come to earth; but in their rebellion, they hated and opposed Him throughout His three year ministry among them. They refused to receive Him as their Messiah and Saviour from sin. In their rebellion they asked Him this question about the source of His authority.
They reasoned among themselves concerning Jesus’ question and answered Him nothing. So Luke 20:8 informs us that He was not going to answer their question. They already knew the answer and they refused it. Furthermore, Proverbs 26:4 instructs us to not answer a fool according to his folly.
JESUS WAS APPROVED BY HIS HEAVENLY FATHER
Though Jesus was not approved by the religious leaders of Jerusalem, as we’ve been noting ever since Luke 10. John 7:40-53 and John 1:11-12 also confirm this rejection. Acts 2:22 teaches us that God approved of His Son, as evidenced by His signs and wonders.
THE APOSTLES WERE ALSO APPROVED OF GOD
The Book of Acts is a record of the beginnings of the early church. The Apostles, Peter and John preached Jesus, and the enemies of Christ immediately tried to silence them by questioning their authority to preach, as recorded in Acts 4:1-7.
Peter answers his critics in verse 8-12. The enemies of the Gospel responded by threatening them in verse 13-18 to stop preaching or suffer the consequences. Peter responded to the threatening by declaring to them “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye: for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
In Acts 5 we see God confirming the authority and message of the Apostles, by killing two lying Christians right on the spot. Take time to read this very interesting and sobering story. It resulted in a reverential fear of God throughout the church, as we read in Acts 5:11. Verse 12 of that chapter tells of how the Apostles moved forward with signs and wonders from Heaven confirming their authority. The Apostles, as well as Gospel preachers today, have God’s authorization and responsibility to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world, Read that Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20.
Paul, the special called Apostle to the Gentiles declares his call and authorization from God in Galatians 1:1-18.
Paul’s message of the grace of God infuriated the Judaizers and they repeatedly tried to silence and even kill him, just as Jesus infuriated the scribes and Pharisees, leading to His crucifixion.
WHAT IS BIBLICAL ORDINATION TODAY?
Just as Jesus was confirmed by His Heavenly Father at His baptism and just as the Apostles were ordained and instructed by Christ to carry His message to the world; so God calls and ordains men today to preach the Gospel,
Ordination today is the recognition and affirmation of an examining council of pastors and elders that the candidate has been called of God and approved Biblically and is personally qualified to be a pastor or missionary.
That approval is not based merely on an education or college degree; but because the candidate evidences a clear grasp of the Gospel message and has an overall understanding of the Bible. It is also based on the evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit in his life and ministry. They have a God-given ability to understand and clearly declare the message of the Bible, as declared in II Timothy 3:16-17.
It is then that the candidate is set apart for the ministry in a public service by the laying on of hands by the examining pastors. See I Timothy 4:14.
A true preacher does not seek the approval of the world, Paul reminds us in Galatians 1:10. Rather he is approved of God as He faithfully continues to study and expound the Scriptures, as we read in II Timothy 2:15.
Not only does he preach the Scriptures, but by God’s grace he lives the Scriptures so that he cannot be condemned as being hypocritical or insincere. I Timothy 4:7 tells us that he has a good reputation in the world.
Philippians 2:14-16 teaches that we are to live without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.
As the world grows darker as they turn from the light of the Gospel and the preaching of God’s Word, may God raise up a new generation of preachers who, like the Apostles of the first generation, will turn this upside down world right side up with the truth of His Word. Is God speaking to you about this?
The Jewish people were looking for a Messiah who would deliver them from Roman oppression. They saw Jesus as the perfect Messiah; one who could feed and heal the people miraculously and one who could overthrow the Roman Empire and enable them to be free people.
That was not Jesus’ agenda. Instead, He concluded His earthly ministry as He had throughout, by concentrating His attention and efforts on dealing with the perverted worship in the Temple. It would be helpful for you to read the accounts of the cleansing of the Temple as found in Matthew 21:12-16, Luke 19:45-48. This was not the first time Jesus had cleansed the Temple. Three years earlier as Jesus commenced His earthly ministry, He had cleansed the temple, as recorded in John 2:13-17.
THE FOCUS OF JESUS’ MINISTRY
The spiritual relationship of Israel to God was always Jesus’ primary concern. Political and social issues were secondary and incidental. His spiritual concerns for His people are found in His Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in Matthew chapters 5-7 and in Luke 6. There we find His concerns for His spiritual Kingdom that dealt with heart issues, more than outward conduct issues. In fact, a prophecy of Christ in Psalm 69:9 speaks of Him being “eaten up” or consumed with zeal for the honor and glory of His Father’s House, the Temple.
When Liberalism began to permeate the churches of America in the mid-nineteenth century, they replaced the Gospel of salvation through the shed blood of Christ, with a social gospel which was concerned only with social issues, rather than spiritual issues. There is a place in Biblical missions for social issues: meeting physical needs of food, clothing, education and health needs of people; but we cannot afford to ignore the spiritual needs.
When our lives are centered on social issues and ignore spiritual issues, we become as irrelevant as those who would attempt to arrange the deck chairs on the sinking Titanic. Social issues must always be a means to an end. They must never be the end in themselves, but as opportunities to express love to people that their hearts may be opened to the Word of God. After all, what good is it to feed and clothe and educate lost sinners who will spend eternity in Hell?
If Jesus came back today, where would He focus His attention? Not on political issues and not even moral issues such as abortion and crime and immorality in the world. Rather His concern would be for the purity and blessing of His Church that through His Church the world would be blessed. That’s obvious from reading Revelation 2 and 3. In these two chapters Christ shows His burden for the spiritual condition of His churches of that time, which reflects His concern for churches throughout the past 2000 years known as the Church Age.
WHAT ANGERED JESUS?
The Jerusalem temple and grounds, His Father’s house, had been turned into a crooked money-making business scheme by the priests who took a cut from the profits of the business men who sold the livestock for sacrifices and exchanged money for profit for a special coin needed for the temple tax. As bad as the stench of the animals was, the stench of the moral corruption was even more repulsive.
WHAT DID JESUS DO WITH THESE CORRUPT BUSINESS MEN?
Did He go to them quietly and politely and say, “You know, I really would appreciate it if you would move your businesses out of the temple area? No, that’s not what He did. Instead in righteous indignation and disgust He physically forced those who sold animals and those who exchanged money to flee, threw over their tables and chairs and freed the live stock, knocked over the crates of doves to be sold and broke them open and within a few minutes doves were flying, animals were stampeding and everyone was scrambling to get out of Jesus’ way and money was scattered all over the place. As they fled before this powerful and authoritative Jesus, they heard Him shout, “Is it not written My House shall be called of all nations the House of Prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!”
WHY DID JESUS DO THIS?
Not only was Jesus dealing with sacrilege and corruption in the old system, but He was also doing away with the whole animal sacrificial system that would be obsolete in less than a week when He, as the Lamb of God, would be slaughtered on the cross once for all for all the sins of the world.
HIS PHYSICAL POWER AND AUTHORITY
The physical strength and authority He showed that day is just a sampling of the power and authority He will exercise over the whole world when He returns to Jerusalem in His glorified state for His Millennial reign, as prophesied in Psalm 2. There it says He will “break the power of His enemies with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” You can read more about this under the category PROPHECY on this Hidden Treasures web site.
THE TEMPLE DESTROYED
The Temple had become so corrupt that God had Rome destroy it in 70 AD when Rome destroyed Jerusalem. The Temple has not been rebuilt in over 2000 years; however, God has plans for it to be rebuilt more glorious than ever when He returns to reign during the Millennium. The prophecy of that Millennial temple is found in Ezekiel 40-48.
WE CHRISTIANS ARE HIS TEMPLE TODAY
I Corinthians 6:19-20 explains that we believers who have been born again are His temple today. As God dwelt in the temple in the Holy of Holies, so today He dwells in the bodies of Christians. We are God’s holy property and must not defile our bodies with sin. When we sin, we must confess our sins to God and seek to gain victory over sin by feeding on God’s Word and surrendering ourselves to the control of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
We, who are His temples, meet together weekly in gatherings we call churches. The Church is not really the building, but the Christians who gather in the building or in secret in some lands where Christianity is forbidden.
We worship together; singing praises to God, praying to Him, hearing the teaching and proclaiming of His Word, the Bible, and supporting financially ministries that further the Gospel of Christ.
But even as we attend church, we must never forget that it is our bodies that are the Temple and holy property of God and, therefore, it is essential that we not allow sin to reign in our lives.
The Church. then, is the gathering together of believers, redeemed saints. Christ, not some man, is the Head of each local church and is Head of His Church universal.
Various denominations, having different understandings of Scriptures, organize their churches differently, but most Protestant churches call pastors and elect elders and deacons to lead and set examples of godliness for the church family.
What, then, should the Christian’s relationship be to his church?
1. RESPECT AND REVERENCE IT
As true Americans respect and reverence the Capitol and the White House in Washington DC and Independence Hall in Philadelphia as well as many other historical and sacred landmarks, so we respect and show reverence when we enter our churches. One way we show respect is by dressing appropriately, just as we would dress appropriately to meet with the President or go into a court room before a judge.
At the same time, we need to avoid dressing to make a fashion statement or to show off and call attention to ourselves. One can call attention to himself that way or by purposely coming in dressed as a bum or a tramp. The poor and the wealthy should equally be received without even a hint of partiality. James in James 2 deals with this topic at length. In I Timothy 2:9-10 Paul deals with the topic of women’s hair and dress styles. Ladies, I encourage you to go to the category VIRTUOUS WOMAN for more on this topic.
In either case, one can call attention to himself and away from Christ by trying to look like a movie star going to the Oscars or by trying to appear humble by dressing and smelling like a bum. In either case it show disrespect for Christ.
Now understand that if a genuinely poor person enters our church looking and smelling shabby, let us reach out to him or her in love and do what we can to meet their needs and make them feel genuinely welcomed.
I remember a time when my wife and I used to pick up little children in our car to take them to church. Our two sons were still pre-school age. My wife remembers watching fleas jump from one of the kids we picked up to our own little ones. Of course, when we got home after the service, she gave them a thorough bath, getting rid of the fleas.
Showing reverence does not mean that we have long solemn faces or put on cloaks of false piety. Attending Church should be a happy, joyful occasion. We can smile and even laugh and be light hearted, but there is also a time to be quiet and listen and reflect on the preaching of God’s Word. We respect the preaching of God’s Word and avoid doing anything and we keep our children from doing anything that would distract others from hearing God’s Word.
Certainly church should not be a place where we make connections for business deals and to take advantage of others to make money.
2. CARE FOR IT
The building or sanctuary where we meet is not an end in itself. Therefore, we don’t pour money into it as though the beauty and grandeur of it were an end in itself. Rather we do what we can to make it a comfortable place to sing God’s praises and to hear the teaching and preaching of the Word of God. Keeping it clean and serviceable should be the joint effort of each member as well as the custodian.
The buildings and grounds are the first impression for visitors. A messy looking building and grounds will reflect badly on Christ and His Church. But even more important is the atmosphere. All of us, including our youth, are responsible to show genuine love and kindness to one another and to help visitors feel comfortable and welcome.
3. USE IT
Take advantage of the teaching and preaching opportunities to learn God’s Word and grow spiritually. What good is the preaching if there are no listeners?
Every Christian is gifted by the Holy Spirit with spiritual gifts to help edify the Body of Christ. Discover your gift and use it; not to make yourself feel important, but to be a blessing to others. I Corinthians 12-14 and Ephesians 4 are good chapters to learn about the spiritual gifts and their use and their abuses.
4. FINALLY, PROTECT YOUR CHURCH
Protect your church from gossip. Refuse to listen to it. Refuse to spread it.
Protect your church from apostasy, If you suspect it, talk with your pastor about it. If he refuses to discuss it, take the matter to your church leaders, which would include elders in some churches and deacons in others. The New Testament is filled with warnings concerning apostasy and how to deal with it. II Timothy 3:1-17, 4:1-8. II John 7-11, Jude 3-13, II Peter 2:1-22, and Romans 16:17-18 as well as warnings from Jesus in Matthew 7:13-23 and Revelation 2-3.
May we be consumed with zeal for the purity of His Church as it consumed Jesus for His Temple.
As a background to what you are going to read in this article, I encourage you to read first the Luke 19:28-44 account of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
When Jesus came into Jerusalem, He did not weep in self pity for what was going to happen to Him within a week’s time; rather, He wept for individuals, for a city and for a nation. The reason He wept is because He beheld them differently from the way we behold people, cities and nations. He beheld them as sinners headed for destruction and as sheep having no shepherds.
When we go into big cities, such as New York City, Washington DC or San Francisco, or even our own city; we tend to primarily observe the buildings, the works of art and the culture of the city. When we go shopping, our focus is usually on our interests. That’s perfectly normal. We seldom look at crowds of people and see most of them as lost souls headed for destruction.
When Jesus beheld crowds. He discerned the souls of men and wept in concern for them.
EXAMPLES OF HOW JESUS BEHELD PEOPLE
Read Mark 10:17-27 to see how Jesus beheld a young ruler.
Read Mark 12:41-44 to see how Jesus beheld a widow’s benevolence.
Read Luke 22:54-62 to see how Jesus beheld Peter after His denial.
Read Matthew 9:36 to see Jesus’ compassionate heart for the crowds whom He saw as lost, scattered sheep without a shepherd.
As you reread the text in Luke 19:28-44 note some observations concerning Jerusalem.
It was a city of opportunity
Luke 13:34-35 informs us that no other city in the world has had as much reason and as much opportunity to prosper and enjoy peace, as Jerusalem. Of all the nations of the world, God saw fit to send His Son Jesus into the tiny nation of Israel. Of all the cities of the world, He came to Jerusalem and to the little villages in the land of Israel. Of all the people groups of the world, He came to the Jews.
Jerusalem was a city rebellious towards God.
Though Jesus lived and ministered among them for thirty years, they were not aware of God’s visitation upon them, nor have they been aware of His visitation throughout the past 2000 years. Luke 18:42 speaks of how they rejected Jesus and the peace He offered them. During this time they have suffered desolation. Observe Jesus’ broken heart over them as He prophesied their perpetual desolation in Luke 13:34-35. Read there of how one day they will recognize and accept Him as their Messiah.
They praised and commended Jesus and He condemned them. Why?
Jesus was not impressed with the praise of the Jews at His Triumphal Entry in His last week before His crucifixion because their praise was superficial. They simply wanted a political Messiah to deliver them from Roman oppression; not a Saviour who would save them from their sins.
Three years earlier, John the Baptist had introduced Jesus to them as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. They were not interested in Him as a Saviour from sin. Their praise of Jesus as He entered Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey, was a sort of Jesus Mania. “Hurrah for Jesus!”
Note in Luke 19:37-44 that while they praised Him, He condemned them.
Nor is Jesus impressed with the modern day Jesus mania expressed in rock concerts in His name. That sort of thing began with the rebellious Hippie culture of the 60’s and 70’s and with the blasphemous rock opera, Jesus Christ, Superstar.
That Jesus mania continues today in churches in what is called worship. In many churches, that “worship” rejects Biblical preaching against sin and of the need of Jesus’ blood sacrifice for sin. It rejects the need for holy living. It rejects any preaching that makes them feel uncomfortable and they brand such preaching as negative and legalistic. It is rather, a Jesus Pep Rally.
Young couples living together unmarried can feel comfortable in such “worship services”; but are offended when preachers declare from God’s Word in passages such as Hebrews 13:4 that such conduct will be judged by God.
Such Christians (whether they are or not, only God knows) do not understand the truth of Psalm 138:2 that God wants His Word magnified even over His Name. Only when God’s Word is magnified in our lives can we truly worship Jesus.
I would not dare to attempt to judge the hearts of Christians who claim they are inspired to love Jesus by the pounding beat of rock music. I only wonder why such Christians have turned their back on centuries of varied, beautiful music that draws hearts to worship Jesus and His blood sacrifice for sin. They claim it is too old fashioned for them. How sad that churches, aiming to please everyone, have to cater to the older generation in one service and cater to the younger generation in a different service.
God never meant for generations to be divided in worship of Christ. There was certainly no trace of that division fifty years ago when I was a teen. We teens enjoyed and were blessed by the same hymns and Gospel songs the adults enjoyed. Sure, we teens had our Gospel choruses we loved to sing, but the adults enjoyed them almost as much as we did. The point is there was no generation gap in church.
Listen to the solemn warning of the very last two verses in the Old Testament. Malachi 4:5-6 tells us that before Jesus returns, He is going to send the prophet Elijah to restore the rift between generations. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the father to the children, and the heart of the children to their father, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
Did you hear what Malachi said? He said that unless the generation gap is healed, God is going to smite this earth with a curse. I think we are seeing that curse today.
Whereas the Palm Sunday crowd were excited about Jesus conquering their Roman oppressors; Jesus was preaching a message of pending disaster and doom from their Romans oppressors. They were a city doomed for destruction and they were not even aware of God’s visitation.
Not only is Jerusalem a city of opportunity and a city of rebellion towards God, but they are
A City of Promise.
In Genesis 22 we read of Abraham being called to offer his son as a sacrifice on a Hill called Moriah. You remember the story. As Abraham was about to plunge the knife into his son, Isaac’s heart, God stopped him and provided a ram as a substitute. Both Isaac, as the submissive son to his Father’s will and the ram as a substitute sacrifice; speak of Jesus Christ, the Son submitted to His Father’s will and the sacrifice who offered Himself as the perfect and final sacrifice for our sins. The Hill Moriah is the very place where Jerusalem was later built and it was the very spot upon which the temple was built and sacrifices were offered for centuries. I encourage you to read the full story in Genesis 22 and again in Hebrews 11:8-14
For further prophecies concerning Jerusalem read Micah 4:1-2 and finally Zechariah 14 which tells of how Jerusalem will one day be the capital and holy city through whom God’s blessing comes when Jesus returns to reign over the whole earth. To get the full picture, go to my series on PROPHECY on this web site.
Finally, Jerusalem is the true Eternal City.
Normally, we think historically of Rome as being the “eternal city.” But that is not true. One day Rome will be destroyed during the Tribulation. You can read of her destruction as the center of world commerce and the destruction of the ecumenical church in Revelation 17 and 18.
Rather, Jerusalem is the true eternal city. After Jesus catches up believers in the Rapture, and after the seven years of Tribulation have run their course on this earth, then Jesus is returning to this earth to reign over the whole world from the city of Jerusalem. One thousand years later, after this earth is destroyed, God is going to make a new Heaven and new earth and the Heavenly City of the New Jerusalem, spoken of in Revelation 21, will exist forever.
As you reflect on what you have just read, consider your city and the cities around the world. When we think of cities we think of multitudes of people. When you see cities, what do you see? Do you only see the culture and the business opportunities, or do you see the masses of people lost and condemned to hell? Do you see the masses as lost sheep having no shepherd?
Luke 19:41 tells us that when Jesus saw the people He was moved with compassion and wept over them, even as He was riding into the city on a donkey to be crucified within the week. It says He wept. This was not the weeping of sadness for Lazarus and his sisters in John 11:35. This is a different Greek word that describes Jesus as being overcome with agonizing sobbing that shook His whole body. That’s how observing sin-sick people affected Jesus and that’s how it ought to affect us as Christians.
How are we attempting to connect with our city, our sin-sick dying nation, and a lost hurting world? Are our hearts broken? They ought to be. Will you surrender to Christ your Lord and allow Him to break your heart and use you to reach the lost?
Rejection of Jesus was catastrophic for the Jews.
Within forty years the inhabitants of Jerusalem were surrounded and starved out by the Roman invaders. Then they went into the city and plundered it, leaving not one stone upon another.
Rejection of Jesus is just as catastrophic for you today. It won’t be long before you face death and the judgment of God for your sins. Will you receive Him as your Saviour now or reject Him as the Jews did two thousand years ago?
Christian friend, we live each day in a sinful, materialistic temporal world doomed for destruction. Are you living in the light of your eternal Home in Heaven? Are you, as Abraham in Hebrews 11:8-10, looking for your eternal city described in Revelation 21?
In the Luke 19:26-40 account of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, we see the crowds exalting Jesus as their long awaited Messiah and King. Of course, this exaltation was superficial. They had no desire to turn from their sins; they just wanted a powerful political leader who would free them from Roman domination. A week later this same crowd, stirred up by their religious rulers, would be shouting for Jesus’ crucifixion.
Some of the Pharisees among them became very incensed. They rejected the deity of Jesus and saw this homage of Jesus as blasphemous and demanded that Jesus take control of the crowd and put a stop to it.
It reminds me of the liberals in America today who want to stifle the voice of Conservatism on radio and TV through the so-called “Fairness Doctrine”. What they really want is not fairness, but censorship. No one is being unfair to the Liberals. They are free to use the media to promote their doctrine. In fact, they have controlled the major news media for generations. Not only do they control the media, but they control the public educational system from Kindergarten through college. They control the unions in the work place. They control the legislative, judicial and now the executive branch of government. What more do they want to control? They will not be satisfied until the voice of Truth is silenced in our land. If they could, they would also silence preachers across America just as Socialism and Communism has persecuted and attempted to silence the voice of preachers throughout the world.
Jesus answered the irritated, whining Pharisees that even if He tried to stop the people from praising Him, the inanimate stones would cry out in praise to Him. All of creation praises Him. Certainly, we who are redeemed should never stop praising the Lord for all He has done for us.
The Heavens declare the glory of God.
Everything God has created from the invisible atom to the largest of the galaxies of stars brings glory to God, as Psalm 19 declares. Many other Psalms speak of this, including Psalm 97 and 148. The Lord reminded Job of this in Job 38. Every rational person who observes this creation, is aware of the fact that He must one day deal with the God who created him. That is made clear in Romans 1:18-32 and 2:1-11.
The earth and all animate and inanimate objects bring praise to God.
Everything God has made reflects His glory and bring praise to Him. This was a constant theme of the Psalmist as is seen in Psalms such as 96,98 and 148.
Isaiah 55:12-13 is but one passage among many in the Bible that uses the literary form of anthropomorphism, that is, ascribing human characteristics to inanimate objects, to glorify God.
Other examples of nature glorifying God by being obedient to His commands and laws are the frogs, flies and lice of the Exodus plagues in Egypt and the hornets of Exodus 23:28 driving out the Canaanites from the land God had given Israel.
In Numbers 22 we read of a donkey who spoke to the disobedient Prophet Balaam.
Nearly everyone is aware of the great fish that God prepared to swallow Jonah who stayed for three days and three nights in the fish’s stomach undigested. Even the fish could not stomach a disobedient prophet Jonah. He was finally vomited up on shore and got back to doing what God called him to do.
By the way, those three days and three nights in the fish’s belly is extremely important to the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ. To understand the full significance go to the category RESURRECTION and read “Jesus, Our Passover Lamb.”
An Ominous Warning to Israel
Would you notice that following that Triumphal Entry. All praise from the crowds ceased. From that point on to this very day, the Jews as a nation have ceased praising Jesus as the Messiah and Saviour of the world. The shouts of praise turned to angry shouts calling for His crucifixion later that week.
Jesus, in Luke 19:40-44 prophesied that the stones of the buildings and walls of Jerusalem would cry out as a testimony of their destruction which occurred about forty years later when Rome sacked Jerusalem leaving not one stone on top of another. The nation of Israel was scattered and has been hunted down and persecuted for 2000 years.
Only since 1948 has Israel been back in their homeland and that is the first step to the unfolding of prophecy that will lead to Israel‘s recognition of Jesus as their Messiah and Saviour. But that’s a big, exciting story that you can read about in my series on PROPHECY. For a foretaste of this wonderful truth, read Romans 9, 10 and 11.
But until that wonderful day, the stones continue to cry out concerning the Jews rejection of their promised Messiah, foretold so clearly in the Old Testament.
In Habakkuk 2:9-14 the prophet Habakkuk prophecies how the stones would cry out in condemnation and judgment against the persecution of the Jews down through the centuries by the nations of the world. No wonder Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem again, as recorded in Luke 19:41.
Beware of following the crowds!
Have you ever noticed how fickle people are? Note, how they fawn over a political leader, such as the president. Then note how quickly they follow leaders in mass, turning against a once popular president. They do the same thing with pastors and others who stand before the public. Crowds are fickle as are individuals. By God’s grace, don’t be a crowd follower. Any dead fish can float down stream with the rest of the fish, but it takes a strong, fighting salmon to swim upstream against the current. I encourage you to be a salmon Christian, standing for Jesus and living your life by the Bible, regardless of how unpopular the position.
As Jesus continued His final journey to Jerusalem to be crucified, He came to two small villages of Bethany and Bethphage, just outside of Jerusalem. Probably He was in Bethany, where His friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived. He had raised Lazarus from the dead a little earlier. Certainly He was well known by the town’s people.
It was there that He asked two of His disciples to go to Bethphage and there they would find a colt, the foal of a donkey, tied to a post. He instructed them to untie the donkey. He explained that the owner would come out and ask them what they were doing. They were to answer, “The Lord has need of him.” The owner would give his permission to them. No doubt, the owner was also a follower of Christ, and therefore knew exactly who was asking to borrow the donkey.
Everything worked out just exactly as the Lord said it would. The two disciples returned to Jesus, leading the colt to Him.
Try to grasp this!
God, the Creator of the Universe, came down in human flesh and had to borrow a colt, the foal of a donkey, on which to ride into Jerusalem. God had need of a donkey. But that’s the way is has always been. Even to this present day, God still delights to use unlikely people and things. Read I Corinthians 1:28-31 and rejoice that God can even use you and me. He can use anyone who is totally yielded to His will and anyone God uses, He blesses. Let me give you some well know people and things Jesus used while He walked on this earth.
First, He used a virgin, Mary, to be his mother so that He could come to this earth in a human body to die for our sins. Mary gave her permission and God blessed her above all women. Imagine, being given the privilege of being the mother of God come down in a human body. You can read the story of this miracle of the virgin birth of Christ in Luke 1 and 2. It doesn’t make Mary great or worthy of our worship. She was simply blessed in a way no other woman has ever been blessed with the privilege of being the mother of Jesus.
He needed Joseph, a young man betrothed to Mary. They had not yet consummated their wedding, when he heard of her pregnancy. Crushed, he tried to grasp what had happened. The Angel Gabriel who had announced to Mary God’s plan of using her, now came to Joseph and explained what had happened. Joseph humbly and gratefully accepted God’s will and became a good foster father to Jesus.
God needed a place for His Son to be born. It ended up being a stable. No one had room for Him. Mary delivered and laid the baby Jesus in a manger.
God needed someone to tell others about the birth of Jesus. He chose to announce this amazing news to some shepherds caring for their sheep. And ever since, God has been using shepherds, pastors, to proclaim the Good News.
Years later, Jesus tired and thirsty while traveling through Samaria, met an immoral promiscuous woman. Jesus needed a drink and asked a cup of water from her. Read the wonderful story in John 4 of how He led this woman to drink the Water of Life and become a changed person, on fire to share her good news with the people of her home town.
Once, while preaching to crowds by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus asked Peter to loan Him his boat so He could push off a little from the shore to have more room to preach to the crowds who had gathered.
Another time, He asked a boy to give Him his lunch, five loaves and two small fish. The boy gladly gave it to Him and He multiplied the lunch and fed 5000 men besides the women and children.
Jesus traveled for three years throughout the land of Israel, having no place to call home, no bed but to lie in the fields under the stars. Sometimes, Jesus was invited to spend a night in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. What a blessing that was for this little family!
When it came time for Jesus to die on a cross, a friend, Joseph of Arimathaea, gave his tomb for Jesus’ corpse. It turned out to be a loan, for Jesus only used it for three days and three nights and then rose again in His glorified body.
What does Jesus need of us today?
He needs our faith in Him, just as husbands and wives, parents and children, pastor and people, mutual friends need faith in each other. We need to receive by faith His sacrifice on the cross as the full payment for our sins. He took the death penalty that we deserved.
As He has loved us, so He needs us to reciprocate by loving Him with all our heart. He needs our love as it is expressed in spending time with Him in prayer and in the reading and studying of His Word and He needs our love as it is expressed in obedience to Him.
He needs our bodies. In Romans 12:1-2 we are challenged to present our bodies to Him as a living sacrifice. He needs our intellect, our voices, our hands and feet to do His will. Are you willing to respond as the Apostle Paul, “Lord, what will you have me to do?” or as Isaiah, “Here am I, send me!” How can we do less than give Him our best?
Hebrews 13:15 teaches us that He need our praise. Not just the superficial praise of the Palm Sunday crowd who were excited about using Jesus as their political saviour from the oppression of the Roman Empire. He wants more from us than just an emotional feeling in a praise service. He wants us boldly standing for Him and living consistently for Him is the midst of a world that scorns and reviles Him. He wants us to be willing to bear that suffering with Him. He wants our full surrender to Him for life.
The Rewards of Living for Him
In II Corinthians 6:9-10 we see how eternal rewards are linked to our willingness to suffer with Him.
The unknown by the world, we are well known in Heaven.
Though living a crucified life daily, we discover His abundant life.
Though chastened by God for seemingly little wrongs, and though it seems as though the ungodly get away with murder, we have the comfort of our loving Father’s concern for us. See Hebrews 6:5-11 for more on this.
Though we sorrow over a lost hell bound world, yet we can live a life of rejoicing in Christ.
Though many Christians have little in this life, we possess everything that Christ possesses as joint-heirs with Him.
Be careful of possessions. They can easily possess us. What matters most is not how well we do in the stock market, but how well we do in Heaven with the time, money, possessions and life we have invested in Heavenly concerns.
The Lord has need of YOU! Have you given yourself completely to Him? Remember, if God could use a donkey to speak to the disobedient prophet, Balaam, and if He could use a donkey for Jesus ride, then surely He can use even you and me. Are you surrendered and broken before Him?
Accounts of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem are found in each of the four Gospels: Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:26-40 and John 12:12-19. It was a humble, but natural effort of the common people to honor Christ, the Miracle Worker; but it turned out to be rather superficial. The same multitude that shouted Hosanna to Jesus as their political saviour from Rome were, for the most part, a week later changed into a rabid mob shouting for His crucifixion.
It’s somewhat like the masses today who call themselves Christians who superficially worship God, but have never recognized that they were lost sinners in need of a Saviour. They are people who seek emotional, good feeling experiences, but have never been broken before God as guilty sinners and have no appetite for the Word of God.
This so-called Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was the response of the crowds to the initial phase of His coming; as Jesus rode into the city on a colt, the foal of a donkey, as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9.
There is coming a true Coronation of Christ at the end of the Tribulation, as described in Revelation 19:11-21; when Jesus will appear on earth in His glory, riding on a white horse conqueroring as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Those of us who have received Him as Saviour will return with Him to share in His victory.
In Philippians 2:5-11 we read of these two comings of Christ. Verses 5-8 speak of His first coming in humility to die for our sins. Verses 9-11 speak of His glorious return to reign.
EVENTS LEADING UP TO THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY
This journey to the cross actually began in Luke 9:51. Follow along as I paraphrase. “And it came to pass when the time was come that (He should go to the cross and die for the sins of the world, and be buried and rise the third day) and be be received up (back to Heaven), He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.” The die was cast. There would be no turning back.
Returning to His Triumphal Entry story in Luke 19, note that Jesus sent two of His disciples to find a donkey, in the Village of Bethphage. They found the donkey and her colt, just like He said they would. They untied it as He told them. The owner came out to find out what was going on, just as Jesus said it would happen. They answered, “The Master has need of him,” just as they were told to answer. No doubt, the owner of the donkey and colt was a follower of Christ and was thrilled at the opportunity of providing the animals for Jesus.
All of it was a fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem. Behold, thy King cometh unto thee. He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding upon a donkey, and upon a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Incidentally, this colt had never been broken or ridden. Jesus, who is Lord of all, had no problem with the colt. It was instantly broken the moment He sat on it.
THE CROWDS THAT GREETED JESUS
The growing crowds, exalted Jesus as their political Messiah. They were excited that perhaps now, there would be peace in Jerusalem and in the land of Israel and that’s why they cried out as Matthew records it, “Hosanna, which means save now! The people were not concerned about being saved from their sins. They weren’t interested in a suffering Messiah. What they wanted was a powerful political Saviour who would free them from the oppression of Rome.
THE STONES WOULD CRY OUT
The Pharisees, who had been plotting the death of Jesus for some time now, were upset with the crowds that honored Jesus. They insisted that Jesus put a stop to all this celebration. Jesus answered them that even if He tried to put a stop to it, the stones would cry out in homage to Him.
GOD PUT HIS SON TO DEATH AS A SACRIFICE FOR OUR SINS
At the same time the Pharisee’s were plotting the death of Jesus; unknown to them, God was Master-minding the crucifixion. According to Revelation 13:8. the crucifixion of Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb slain for sin, was known and planned by God before the foundation of the world.
A CONSTANT LAW OF GOD
Read and memorize Psalm 76:10. This is a constant law of God. Don’t ever forget it. You will need to remember it throughout your life as you are confronted by the wrath of man. “Surely, the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder or wrath shalt Thou restrain.” What does this verse teach us about the wrath of man? Whenever you are confronted by the wrath of man, don’t be too upset. God always uses the wrath of man to accomplish His purposes. Beyond that, God restrains man’s wrath. In other words, the wrath of man is never wasted. What God does not use for His glory, He restrains.
JESUS IS NOT SEEKING NOISY WORSHIPPERS
The Palm Sunday crowd made a great fan-fare, a great outward show of their loyalty for Christ; but it was all simply hyper-emotionalism and noise.
Jesus is not seeking noisy worshippers. He is not asking us to whip up our emotions and loudly proclaim our allegience to Him. Rather, He is looking for humble, grateful followers who are so overwhelmed with His sacrifice for our sins that we gladly present our lives to Him to be used as He sees fit for His glory. Romans 12:1-2 teaches us that true worship always results in surrender to Christ, and separation from the influence of this sinful, Satan-controlled world system and in joyful service to Christ.
I encourage you, dear reader to make sure that you are among those who have received Jesus as Saviour and Lord. Come in humility to Him in your sins and ask Him to save you and cleanse you from sin. He will save you now and make you fit to join His family and make you fit to worship Him. One day we will join Him in celebration as He comes to this world as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.