April 5th – The Palm Before the Storm
Jesus Anointed at Bethany
John 12:1-3 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
Jesus sends two of his disciples on ahead to bring the colt to him so that he may ride down the descent of the Mount of Olives, across the Kidron Valley, and in through the so-called Golden Gate in the eastern wall into the Temple court.
Mount of olives
Other Gates to Jerusalem – Damascus Gate – Zion Gate
Easter Gate or The Golden Gate, as it is called in Christian literature. The Hebrew name of the Golden Gate is Sha’ar HaRachamim (שער הרחמים), Gate of Mercy. Because the walls have been destroyed and rebuilt many times across the last 2000 years we do not know that is the exact gate but if not the exact location it’s very close.
Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King
John 12:17-19 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, ‘See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!’
We need to understand something of the Jewish feelings toward Rome. In 63 BCE Roman legions under Pompey had put an end to an independent Jewish state, conquering Jerusalem and deposing the King. Although Israel had returned from its exile in Babylon hundreds of years earlier, the golden age predicted by the prophets had not yet materialized. Instead Israel labored under the oppressive military dictatorship of a pagan nation. The Jews struggles under the yoke of Roman rule. Within 35 years after Jesus’ death, Jews would be in full-scale rebellion against Rome, finally resulting in the catastrophic destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. In the meantime, Israel was filled unrest. Jews yearned for a messianic deliverer who would once and for all restore to Israel the throne of David and establish God’s Kingdom in the land.
Messiah – a leader or savior.
The literal translation of the Hebrew word mashiach (messiah) is “anointed“, which refers to a ritual of consecrating someone or something by putting holy oil upon it. … That is why he is referred to as Messiah ben David, which means “Messiah, son of David”.
Jesus in Mark 14.27 applies Zechariah prophecy to himself in telling the disciples that they will all desert him. He says, “You will all fall away, for it is written, (quoting Zechariah 13) ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered’”: Jesus is applying to himself Zechariah’s prophecies.
Jesus is deliberately fulfilling the prophecy
Zechariah 9-10. Listen to this: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.
The triumphal entry shows us Jesus’ messianic self-consciousness and who he took himself to be. He identified himself with the Shepherd-King predicted by Zechariah.
They cut palm branches or other leafy plants as Jews did at other celebrations and festivals and strewed them in Jesus’ path. And then people, cried out “Hosanna! (or God saves!) Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Video – Gladiator
You see, the crowd thought that at last God’s anointed king had come, the teacher and miracle-worker from Nazareth, who would cast off the pagan rulers of Israel and establish God’s true kingdom, centered not in Rome but in Jerusalem.
But what a disappointment for those who had hailed his entry! What kind of a Messiah was this? What sort of a deliverer is this? In the ensuing days, Jesus did cleanse the Temple, but he didn’t raise a finger against the Romans. In fact he didn’t even raise his voice against them. Instead he said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Mark 12.17). Who needs a king like this?
Chart – Jesus Activities
By Friday, enough of the multitude were sufficiently disenchanted with Jesus that the Temple priesthood who had engineered his arrest and delivered him to the Romans on the treasonous charge of claiming to be “King of the Jews” were able to turn them against him. And now they chanted, not cries of “Hosanna!” but “Crucify him! Crucify him!” And so to the cross he went, to die as he knew he must.
Jesus doesn’t always meet our expectations.
The Jews were expecting a king who would be a great military leader like David, who would throw off the yoke of Rome, and establish God’s kingdom by force. When we read some of the Old Testament prophecies, we can understand why they had such expectations; they weren’t at all unreasonable. But Jesus was radically different than their expectations. When he rode into Jerusalem, he did not do so on a horse, the symbol of warfare and the choice of conquerors, as Pompey had done. He did not even pick a mule, the steed of Jewish kings like David himself. Rather, he chose a donkey, a pack animal, a lowly beast of burden, as his royal mount. As Zechariah had prophesied, he came humbly and bringing peace. The Kingdom of God which he preached and inaugurated was not an earthly, political kingdom, but the rule of God in the hearts of people who know and serve Him. But this was not the kingdom which the people expected or wanted, and so they rejected Jesus as their Lord.
I’ve seen these sorts of things happen again and again in the lives of Christian friends. When God doesn’t live up to our expectations, then we jettison God and do things the way we think they should be done or resent Him for not giving us what we want.
John 18:36-37 Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.’
‘You are a king, then!’ said Pilate. Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’
God is in Control
John 16:33 ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (Paul) Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Easter info and communion supplies
The last supper is the antithesis to the triumphal entry. Jesus tells his disciples everyone will abandon him, he will be betrayed, and put to death… even his closest followers will experience this darkness, and search for the strength to stand strong.
I’m thankful to this article by William Lane Craig in putting together this message.
Click Here for sermon Notes Jesus Challenges Judgements Pro
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