Sunday, March 20, 2016

Palm Sunday (Easter Story 1) (Matthew 21:1-7, Zechariah 9:9, Psalm 8:2)

It's time for me to read the Easter story again.  Today is the day we celebrate Palm Sunday.  It originally took place around 33 AD.  Jesus and the disciples were on one of their journeys through Israel.
Matthew 21:1-17
1 Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me.  3 And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord has need of them,' and immediately he will send them.
4 All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: 

5 "Tell the daughter of Zion,
'Behold, your King is coming to you,
Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.'
This prophecy was first recorded in Zechariah 9:9, and fulfilled by Jesus.
6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them.
This is unusual for the disciples.  Usually when Jesus asked them to do something, they were full of questions.  I wonder if they shrugged their shoulders and whispered, "What do you think He's up to?"  Someone might have answered, "Don't know.  We should just do it."  So glad the disciples were people like us.  By this time they knew Jesus wasn't popular with the temple leaders in Jerusalem.  Maybe they simply did it out of faith, full of apprehension as to what came next.
They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. 8 And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 
9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:
"Hosanna to the Son of David!
'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!' Hosanna in the highest!" 
This was originally written in Psalm 118:26.  It was fulfilled by Jesus.
10 And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, "Who is this?" 11 So the multitudes said, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee." 
It must've been a wonderful moment for all who witnessed it.  I can imagine the whispers and the love of the crowd.  People who had heard His teaching and seen His miracles, continued to follow Him.  For the disciples, everything must've seemed great.  All are happy, everything's fine.  They were a part of something so much greater than their imaginations.
12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 And He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves.'"

Fun's over, Jesus had an important task at hand.  He went into the temple.  The temple that never recognized Him as the Messiah, even tried to kill Him as a baby.  It was no longer God's House like King David had dreamed.  It was now a money making industry.   
Instead of raising a scepter and wearing a golden crown with jewels like I would think a king would do, Jesus healed the blind and lame in the temple.  The children sang "Hosanna to the Son of David!"  Hosanna means, "Save now" or "Praise."  The temple had never experienced this before. It was a solemn place.
14 Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant 16 and said to Him, "Do You hear what these are saying?"

The chief priests and scribes were thrilled?  No, they were indignant.  The only way I can grasp this attitude is to realize the priests and scribes lived in a time when they didn't want a Messiah.  They enjoyed their careers.  They had nice homes and never worried about money.  Perhaps they even had nice chariots.  Maybe they just didn't want to think about God right now, it wasn't convenient.  Kind of like the temptations we face.
I can imagine how wonderful it must've been to see our King in the Temple.  The children started singing with no prompt- they just knew.  The blind and lame had the courage to come to Him.  He actually healed from within the Temple. What a wonderful image of Heaven.
And Jesus said to them, "Yes. Have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise'?" 

This prophecy was recorded in Psalms 8:2, and fulfilled by Jesus.  Amidst the beauty of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, tensions began to rise.  It was all in God's plan.
I love it when He says, "Have you never read?"  The scribes and chief priests were supposed to be extremely knowledgeable about the Old Testament.  Their job was to study scripture and apply it according to God's will.  The definition of a scribe from my Bible dictionary is "class of learned men who made the systematic study of the law and its exposition their professional occupation."  So when Jesus said, "Have you never read?" It would've been like asking a heart surgeon if he knew what an artery was.  Oy!  Think I would blush if Jesus asked me that.  I'll keep reading the Bible.  Truly we all have favorite passages though, guess we should read it all : )

Dear Heavenly Father, 
I continue to pray for peace in Jerusalem.  I know none of us will be forgotten by You.  Please protect those who are in harms way facing persecution.  Send the Angels to protect and guide them.  I pray for wisdom for our leaders in the USA.  Grant us wisdom as we seek to elect a new President.  Thank You for hope secured in our hearts like an anchor.  Help us count our blessings, especially in the good times.  

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
10 Set the world right;
Do what's best––
  as above, so below.
11 Keep us alive with three square meals.
12 Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
13 Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
  Yes. Yes. Yes.
(Matthew 6:9-13 Message)

In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen   

Here's Michael W. Smith's song, "Hosanna" (link)

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