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Jesus -- the Guru #41

 “The Confrontation”


Jesus had forewarned His disciples that the climax of His ministry and purpose was coming. The Master now heads to Jerusalem, the headquarters of His enemies. It was the “Passover” time. Thousands of Jews from around the country and around the world would be in Jerusalem for these holy days recalling with joy God’s deliverance of the Jews from slavery in Egypt a thousand years earlier.


The popular belief was that the Messiah would reveal Himself during this festival. God would come to deliver His people once again.


A. Actions of Confrontation


Read Matthew 21:1-17.



The Triumphal Entry


1As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples,2saying 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.3If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”


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


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


6The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.7They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.9The 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!”


10When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”


11The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Jesus at the Temple


12Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.13“It is written,” he said to them, “ ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’’”


14The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.15But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.


16“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “ ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’ ?”


17And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.


 


The reputation of Jesus had reached Jerusalem. Could this prophet from Galilee be the Messiah? The people were living under the oppression of the Roman Empire. They were looking for a deliverer. Could Jesus be the one? They heard He was coming to the city, just as the Messiah should. The crowds welcomed Jesus like a king. (vv. 8-10)


Note: “Hosanna” = “save” in Hebrew. It was often used in temple songs.


When this event is celebrated in Christian churches, it is called “Palm Sunday.” It is the Sunday before Easter Sunday because that is how it happened in Jesus’ life.


Not only did Jesus arrive in Jerusalem to the welcome of the Messiah, He immediately did what the Messiah would do. Jesus immediately went to the Temple. The Messiah was expected to restore proper worship in the Temple. Jesus went beyond temple rituals. Jesus was not concerned with rules of worship and sacrifices and clean/unclean as all the Temple priests were. Jesus was concerned once again about the people whom the religious leaders had rejected and condemned and abused.


Why did Jesus immediately attack the money changers in the Temple? For two reasons. One reason was that this practice oppressed poor people. They had to change their “unclean” money for temple coins. Of course, the money changers and the temple authorities made huge profits at the poor people’s expense.


The second reason was that this business was set up in the “court of the Gentiles.” This “temple area” (v. 12) was the first court as one entered the Temple. Gentiles (non-Jews) were not allowed to enter any further. Jesus rejected this religion of rules, this religion of “clean” and “unclean,” this religion of insiders and outsiders, this religion of oppression and rejection. (v. 13)


We saw in Lesson Seven that there were no “outsiders” in Jesus’ religion. In God’s rule of love, all people are to be included and welcomed. Jesus quoted the Old Testament prophet Isaiah once again. People knew what Jesus meant, for the passage in Isaiah states: “My house will be a house of prayer for all people.” (Is. 56:7)


The religious leaders saw what was happening. They knew what it meant. In vv. 14-16, they knew what Jesus was claiming by these Messianic actions. The final confrontation was coming.


Jesus entered the capitol city like the Messiah, and He did what the Messiah would do. He knew this would provoke His enemies to action against Him. He had to take the lead and bear His cross. (Remember Mt. 16:24) What do you learn from this about your discipleship?


Are there abuses and oppression in religion that you would like to “overturn” like Jesus did, even if it would provoke opposition?


Looking forward to your email today,


Yesudas


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