John 12:12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” ESV
What is the general theme of the passage?
What seems like a victory parade for Jesus is really a crowd full of curious people. Some in this crowd wave palms because they are Jesus’s friends and support Him though they don’t fully understand His mission. Some in this crowd wave palms because they saw Jesus raise a man from death to life and it’s all they can talk about. Some in this crowd wave palms because they are filled with a kind of nationalistic fervor that Jesus may be the one God has sent to be their king. Lastly there must surely be some in this crowd that wave palms to hide their identity as enemies of Jesus and gather evidence they can use against Him. Jesus recognizes them all. He deliberately chooses a donkey’s colt, the symbol of a king coming in peace, for His last journey into Jerusalem.
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
This IS His time and His choice. Jesus has thoughtfully managed His involvement with the crowd. He’s chosen to enter into Jerusalem as a visible sign of Peace that is to come.
What does it say about people?
Whatever the underlying motives of the crowd; friendship or nationalistic fervor, the reason why they’ve come to usher Jesus into Jerusalem is “they heard” of the amazing sign he had done in raising Lazarus.
Is there truth here for me?
Jesus is going to give them another sign that will be life restoring and make peace a part of their future. “Behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” Though they “did not understand these things at first,” some will come to recognize Jesus IS the sign to remind them “that these things had been written about Him and had been done to him” and prove the Pharisees prophetic words in a way they never intended “Look, the world has gone after him.”
Exodus 13:3 And Moses said to the people, “Remember this day, in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage, for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place; no leavened bread shall be eaten. 4 This day you are to go forth, in the month of Abib. 5 And when the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jeb′usites, which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this service in this month…9 And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt…18 But God led the people round by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle…
“by strength of hand the Lord brought you out.”
Memory of the Lord walking with us is still “the road out” of bondage! The Israelites began their journey with the promise of an oasis, a land flowing with milk and honey. But between their bondage in Egypt and that land of freedom lay a vast wilderness with other less obvious adversaries they would have to conquer. Remember, their battle wasn’t just with an Egyptian army, a sea, a lack of water, unfamiliar food, dietary restrictions and years in a vast wilderness, but with themselves. The Lord’s plan was to equip their memory by His faithful presence for an ongoing battle against the unrelenting, hidden influences of the other enemies that must be met and overcome along the way: the Hittites, broken and fearful, the Amorites, bitter, broken and babbling and the wicked Hivites. “And the Lord went before them” leading them by day and by night. Remember!
Exodus 1:1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3 Is′sachar, Zeb′ulun, and Benjamin, 4 Dan and Naph′tali, Gad and Asher. 5 All the offspring of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. 6 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers, and all that generation. 7 But the descendants of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong; so that the land was filled with them. 8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war befall us, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land”…12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. RSV
Exodus literally means “the road out.” The word itself was adopted into English (via Latin) combining the Greek prefix ex- (meaning “out of”) and hodos, “road” or “way.” This book is the way Moses’s story unfolds. The facts of the story are yet another episode of the struggle of men [the generic pronoun] determined to control their circumstances. History has erased the Egyptians memory. They’ve forgotten, over time, that their salvation came through a family of blue-collar farming and shepherding immigrants and a man who’s wisdom saved their nation and their people from starvation and ruin: Joseph, who???
The Egyptians are now consumed by their “dread of the people of Israel” and their need to maintain control even if it means enslavement and genocide of those same people. God has made sure that family will be remembered by name as the foundation of Moses’s story continues to unfold. The title of the Book, Exodus, is more than the history of the promises for God’s people, then. Exodus is going to be like a contemporary mystery story where “in the beginning” we know the “who done it” and now It’s going to ask us to remember what has been forgotten in between – the circumstances, people, choices and time – and watch how the “exodus” then, has become the “way” to our deliverance, now.
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life;
no one comes to the Father, but by me.“
John 19:28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Jesus’ words “It is finished” are an important reality of our life in Christ. I thought about their importance to the personal drama of my own “first” Easter with Jesus. It felt so big, so dramatic, so epic…and so complete…but it had just barely begun.
I wonder why it’s so easy to look at epic moments in our life of faith as finales when beginning right there on that cross, our hope lies in exactly the opposite being true. That’s the truth of Jesus words “It is finished.” Easter was not an epic finale but The Crescendo of a New Beginning.
John 19:31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.
This is the second time the phrase – “the day of Preparation” with that same capital “P“ appears in this chapter. I am convinced God has shown me that capital “P” to teach me something important about the celebration of Passover, and Lent. The capital “P” Preparation is Jesus; the one very real difference between the preparation for the celebration of the Jewish Passover and the celebration of Lent that leads to Easter morning. Both celebrations recognize the need for an annual, dedicated break in time with sacrifice so the heart might remember with thanksgiving and worship what the Eternal, Almighty, Righteous God has done in the past to make new beginning a reality.
• Passover is the dedicated break in time for devout people whose desire is to remember the blood of the perfect lamb that saved them in the past.
• Lent is the dedicated break in time for devout people whose desire is to remember the blood of the perfect lamb that saved them in the past.
• The Passover remembrance begins with the recognition of need for removal of the decay that leads to ruin.
• The Lenten remembrance begins with the recognition of need for removal of the decay that leads to ruin.
• The hope of Passover lies in the Eternal, Almighty, Righteous God’s acceptance of their sacrifice for Him…so He might be pleased with them.
• The hope of Lent lies in the Eternal, Almighty, Righteous God’s sacrifice of Jesus for them…so He might be pleased with them.
3:13 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons. 16 He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot,[b] 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. NLT
Jesus “started a little society of his own–and a very queer society it was. There were some fishermen; there was a reformed tax-collector; there was a fanatical nationalist. They were not the kind of people whom any ambitious man would particularly want to know. They certainly were not the kind of people who would be any good to a man who was set on a career. No sensible man, they must have been thinking, would pick a crowd of friends like that. They were definitely not the kind of people a prudent man would want to get mixed up with.a“
Edification [the improvement of a person morally or intellectually].
Today’s lesson for you:
[Jesus] “called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him.”
aWilliam Barclay on Mark 3
I Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. [ESV]
I learned the meaning of the Greek word “eleos,” translated “mercy” in reading my commentary resources for this post. Eleos also means pity and compassion so the Scripture could be read “but now you are God’s people; once you had not received pity and compassion but now you have received pity and compassion.”
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles:” remember why you’ve been chosen! You’ve been chosen to be a visible and undeniable display of God’s eleos, virtue and perfection. The powerful, all-knowing, ever-present God of the universe looked at your separation from Himself and rather than exercise His power to punish you, chose to trust the power of His pity and compassion to change you. You are chosen to be witnesses of that change: “Conduct yourselves properly (honorably, righteously) among the Gentiles, so that, although they may slander you as evildoers, [yet] they may BY witnessing your good deeds [come to] glorify God in the day of inspection [when God shall look upon you wanderers as a pastor or shepherd looks over his flock].” AMPC v12.
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. [Psalm 118:24 ESV]
Remember that chorus? I needed to sing it out loud in my own living room this morning. I needed it’s reminder! I needed to re-read this quote from a sermon by C.S. Lewis in 1942 and be reminded that in Jesus own plan it’s more than OK to rejoice; it’s critical for “this” day. I think you may need all those things too.
“If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point.
I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire.
If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are far too easily pleased.” [C.S. Lewis – Weight of Glory]
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:9-11 [ESV]
THIS is the day….REMEMBER?
2 Samuel 11:1-5 It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house. And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, “I am with child.” [NKJV]
“While Joab is busy in laying siege to Rabbah, Satan is [laying seige] to David, and far sooner prevailed.” [Trapp]
God’s plan for marriage
The condition,1 the promise2 and the blessing.3
Genesis 2:24-25 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother.1 and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.2 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.3
The reality of the relationship…Deuteronomy 17:17a He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.
The evidence of accumulated sin…2Sa 3:2-5 Sons were born to David in Hebron: His firstborn was Amnon by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; his second, Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron.
News flash! Deceit and cover up from a position of power are not new and the consequences of sin are not normalized by repetition or by calling it by some gentler name. How does a nation deal with the complete moral failure of its leader? Consequences aren’t just a dismal surprise resulting from corrupt acts, they’re a given. Heart-breaking consequences were the result for a whole family and a whole nation as a result of the accumulated sins of the very king who had captured God’s own heart. Satan found a way to expose those accumulated sins into the tragic reality of consequences that included adultery, murder and death.
Here’s the Good News from 2 Samuel this Sunday: God did provide for the king’s heart to remember the grace of repentance and restoration that could forgive accumulated sins even in the midst of heart-breaking circumstances. That should sound familiar to our heart too. God has provided for our hearts to remember the grace of repentance and restoration we have through the death of another child, His own Son. Jesus, is God’s provision for our hearts to find repentance and restoration in every circumstance.
NIV Hebrews 3
• 1…think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest…
• 7 That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today when you hear his voice, 8 don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness…
• 15 Remember what it says: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.”
There’s a mystery involved in hearing the unspoken Word of this book we call our Bible. We know the mystery involves our training to recognize guidance and respond to Word that can speak truth into the human heart. “There is a beautiful story in the Old Testament where the prophet stands at the mouth of a cave and the Lord is passing. There is thunder, and the Lord is not in the thunder. There is an earthquake, and the Lord is not in the earthquake. There is fire, and the Lord is not in the fire. Then there is a still, small voice, and the Lord is in that voice. (See 1 Kings 19: 11–13.)” Intro to Following Jesus [Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety] by Henri Nouwen
OK, it’s the Holy Spirit…√. Do you imagine the writer of Hebrews was just casually writing “think carefully about this Jesus” or “today when you hear his voice” or “remember?” The answer of course is no! The Holy Spirit is the vital voice that teaches us to consciously respond to that mystery. The “gentle whisper” that happens “today” when you allow Jesus to teach you is the Holy Spirit speaking the reality of the Word within you despite the noise of the world around you.
The passage from 1 Kings ends with the question of the day. “And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here Elijah [insert your name here]?” I hope your answer is thinking, hearing and remembering.