Matt 21:1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. 6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.
The beginning of what we call Holy week starts with a fulfillment of scripture at the outset. How fitting. This whole week is marked by dozens, if not hundreds, of Old Testament scriptures being fulfilled. It is also marked by so many activities that I am going to be quite selective in choosing which ones to write about. We start on Sunday, and what is commonly called Palm Sunday, or the Triumphal Entry.
In this story, the ass, or donkey, draws my attention. Riding in on the donkey was a fulfillment of Zachariah 9:9. In Mark and Luke’s gospels, we are told that Jesus says to find a donkey that man has never sat on. Now I have never attempted to break a horse, but I have seen shows where someone has, and it is not an easy task. I would imagine a donkey to be that same way.. For most people, they would prefer a donkey that had been ridden several times. But Jesus wanted one that had never been ridden. Why?
First, a donkey that had not been sat upon was most likely being held for a special purpose, perhaps an offering of some sort. It was consecrated. Donkey’s were commonly used by the Jews for transportation, so this animal had been pampered and protected from that. To be a sacrificial animal it needed to be free of any defects or blemishes. This represented the special event it was going to be used for – the ushering in of the King of Kings. I’m sure the owner was very concerned with letting the animal go, but when He heard it was Jesus who asked, he was glad to allow it.
Second, it represents to me the fact that Jesus can take a life that is restless, unbroken and untamed and calm it with ease. There is no record of Jesus having any problem with this untamed animal. He will also have no problem with a sinner who comes to Him, deep in their sin. Someone who has been through every program there is, every kind of counseling, maybe even prison, and has still not been tamed. The gentleness of Jesus can take that troubled soul and calm it in an instant.
8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. 10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? 11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
What a scene this must have been! Remember, it was just a few days ago Jesus raised Lazarus form the dead. The word had spread throughout the countryside about that miracle. I imagine the crowd had swelled the size of the city quite a bit. As the crowd gathered, I can imagine the Pharisees and Scribes hearing the murmur in the crowd that Jesus was coming. The man that just a few days ago they tried to take into custody but could not. The man they had determined needed to be put to death was coming back into their city. This time they would not miss their opportunity.
They watched as the people cheered. They watched as the people pulled down branches and laid the before Him. They watched as some even removed their outer garments to make a path for Him, riding that donkey. And they thought to themselves how blatant of Him to ride a donkey in They knew the scripture from Zachariah, because it was one of the Messianic scriptures to be fulfilled only by the Messiah. How dare He try to pretend to be the Messiah?
They wanted so badly to grab Him ow, but knew they could not. the people adored Him. They were worshiping Him in the street as He entered. The leaders could not afford to anger the people. They had to figure out a way to turn the people against Him, somehow, Luke’s gospel tells us this in chapter 19. 39 And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. 40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
I marvel at current archaeology. More and more they are finding things that verify the biblical account, from creation all the way to Christ’s birth. (As a side note, if you have never been to the Creation Museum just south of Cincinnati, Ohio, you should plan a family vacation there. It is well worth it.) As they do, the rocks are crying out about the truth of the scripture and about Jesus. Today, science refuses to admit that creation is a fact. They believe their wisdom is better than God’s. But the more they look at what the rocks have to say, the more convincing the argument for God! Man has ceased praising the Lord as he should and the rocks are crying out!
12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
This is the second time Jesus cleansed the temple and overturned the money changers tables. The first was at the very beginning of His ministry, just after He had turned the water into wine (John 2:14-21). That was His first trip to Jerusalem after He started His ministry, this was His last. Either the money changers had forgotten what happened before, or they didn’t think He’d have the guts to do it again, or they were new to the trade and didn’t know what he had done before. In any case, they were unprepared for what he would do.
We have all seen the movies where this is depicted. Animals are let loose, money goes flying, tables are overturned. This was a busy place, maybe a lot like our Farmer’s markets on a busy Saturday on July. There were a lot of people transacting business. But Jesus did not care about that. What He cared about was the indecency of it all.
You see, what the money changers were doing, under the watchful guidance of the Pharisees and Scribes, was ripping off the innocent people. People would come with their sacrifices, and these money changers would inspect them. Finding the slightest thing wrong, they would sell the innocent people another animal and let them go to sacrifice it. Then they would take that animal, which they had just rejected, and sell it to someone else. It was scam all the way, and Jesus knew it. He was indignant!
When a preacher uses trickery, or deceitful ways to take money from the people, it is the same thing, and it makes the Lord angry. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times. If you give $XXXX in this offering , the Lord has told me it will be returned to you ten fold, or twenty fold. I can recall being in meetings where a special person was designated to take up the offering, just because he could pull money from the crowd better than anyone else.
Woe be to that preacher who tells the audience “The Lord told me” when it s actually just his way of getting a bigger offering. God desires righteousness and honor. He desires truth in the inward parts. I wonder how many of our churches today would find Jesus overturning the table when He got inside! May we never find ourselves doing such a thing to help our own cause. He knows the intention of our heart.
I’m guessing you though this might be a little different than this since it’s Palm Sunday, but I always try to give you a different look, and deliver what the Lord has laid on my heart. You can expect the same this entire week. Who knows where He will take us. Tomorrow, I know we will talk about a fig tree.