Today’s Reading: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19; Psalm 115
When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus. – John 12:9-11
Lazarus was making a difference in the lives of so many people because he allowed his story to be shared. Jesus had done something miraculous in his life and he used that miracle to share with others the difference Jesus could make in their lives. Once he was dead, but now he was alive! What Jesus had done for him became his story, but it did not stay Lazarus’ story. His healing was about Jesus; it was HIS story. It was used for Jesus’ glory and to bring others to Jesus, so that they could see for themselves the power of the Messiah.
Many in the crowd had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, and they were telling others about it. That was the reason so many went out to meet him – because they had heard about this miraculous sign. Then the Pharisees said to each other, “There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!” – John 12:17-19
The town of Bethany was on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, while Jerusalem was on the western side. So as Jesus was leaving Bethany to head to Jerusalem for the week of Passover, crowds began to form. Word was spreading that Jesus was back (the Jesus who had raised Lazarus from the dead) and lots of people were coming out to give him the triumphant welcome he deserved.
As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.”
This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said,
“Tell the people of Jerusalem,
‘Look, your King is coming to you.
He is humble, riding on a donkey – riding on a donkey’s colt.’” – Matthew 21:1-5
The only thing the owners of the donkey and colt had to hear was that the Lord needed what they had, and their response was to IMMEDIATELY let the disciples take them. They did not get possessive with what they owned or concerned whether they would ever see the animals again. They did not focus on the value of what was theirs but they shared with Jesus without questioning what he had planned. The donkey and its colt were no longer needed for their purposes as much as they were needed for Jesus’ glory. I like to believe that the owners followed the disciples; that they were in the crowd of people that day.
Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it.
Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting.
Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessings on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David!
Praise God in highest heaven!” – Mark 11:7-10
What an incredible moment in history. Prophecy was being fulfilled and Jesus was receiving glory for all God was doing through him. But the reality was that not all of Jerusalem was ready to receive the Messiah. As Jesus came closer to Jerusalem, he began to weep over the condition of Jerusalem. He had come that all would experience life but he knew what was ahead. He knew this city would not accept their opportunity for salvation (Luke 19:41-44).
Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!” – Matthew 21:12-13
The Temple was built to give God’s people a place to worship Him. It was to be a building where God was glorified, but the people had lost their focus. The building was now more about ritual instead of relationship; about profit instead of the Great Prophet.
Jesus’ time on earth was drawing close to an end and the people were still so focused on themselves that they were missing the presence of the Messiah. Jesus’ words to the people held great purpose:
“Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels – a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.” – John 12:23-26
That is the desire of my heart this morning – to follow Jesus, to be where He is. I want everything God does in my life to be more than just my story, but to be for Jesus’ glory. I want my possessions to be available for His use and for His glory. I want to be in the crowd welcoming Jesus with garments and palm branches, instead of missing the moment because I am too caught up in the chaos of the Temple. I do not want Jesus to weep when he considers my future, but to be pleased with the plentiful harvest of his power at work in my life. Oh Jesus, this is my prayer!
Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
but to your name goes all the glory
for your unfailing love and faithfulness. – Psalm 115:1