Greg Spires – Teaching Pastor
When it was very near time for Jesus to go to the cross, He entered Jerusalem. The scene is described in Matthew 21:1-11. His disciples brought Him a donkey, which He rode down the Mount of Olives. The crowd around Him responded, knowing He was coming to Jerusalem the way a victorious king would.
Matthew 21:8-11 reads, “Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’ And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, ‘Who is this?’ And the crowds said, ‘This is the prophet, Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.’”
Why was the crowd so enthusiastic at that moment? We need to remember how much the people were suffering under the rule of Rome. They longed for their suffering to end. Not only that but seeing Jesus arrive in such a fashion opened their eyes to the fact that He was sent from God to fulfill prophecy.
Notice one such prophecy from Malachi 3:1, “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.”
The people knew the messenger of Malachi 3:1 was John the Baptist. They knew John the Baptist testified that Jesus was greater than he. And then, Jesus approached the Temple in Jerusalem the way a king would. Moved by prophecy and the presence of God, they responded in resounding worship.
Their excitement would soon turn to disappointment when Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross. All their hopes for freedom were dashed. Overwhelmed with their grief, they hurled insults on the one that just days before they had worshipped.
How did this happen? The people wanted a conquering king, and Jesus is a conquering king. However, they wanted Jesus to defeat their political enemies, free them from bondage, bring financial blessings, and rid them of all their difficulties. While these were worthy desires, Jesus came for something more significant: to deliver people from their sin and give them a relationship with God that will last forever.
Suffice to say, most during those days didn’t think Jesus was very practical. Real problems need real solutions; they might have said. We could imagine them saying, “Forgiveness is great, but it doesn’t put food on the table.” The problem was in disbelief people became short-sighted. We all want to be forgiven, but what good is that if the difficulties of life persist?
Jesus would have us reverse that question: What good is it to have our problems go away if we don’t have forgiveness? All difficulty is temporary. The longest any problem can last is our lifetime. However, forgiveness is necessary to have eternal life. The issue wasn’t that Jesus was unable to deal with the big problems people faced. The issue was people were primarily concerned about too small of difficulties. Jesus came to give us the most significant solution of all time: That after we die, we live forever with Him.
This Sunday is Palm Sunday – where we remember that great day of worship in the days before Jesus gave His life for us. On the one hand, it should fill us with joy to know that one day we too will worship the King in praise when He comes to bring His final victory.
But, on the other hand, we should be willing to examine our own hearts, too. How often do we just want God to deal with the stuff of life? We have problems, and we want Him to fix them. We should pray and ask for His help, for sure! But we should also be mindful that He is up to something much bigger in our lives than solving our daily problems. He is working day in and day out to make us more like Jesus – in times of challenge, and in times of blessing.
I look forward to being with you this Sunday as we celebrate the work of God in Jesus Christ together! This Sunday, we will be seeking God through His Word in Malachi 2:17-3:5.
See you Sunday,