Jesus did not turn right – on this occasion he turned left!
Mark 11 verses 1 to 11 – Passover is only a few days away. Jesus is being welcomed by many – whilst others became challenged, upset and angry – on what has been called ‘Palm Sunday’. Over a million Jews would be visiting Jerusalem for the Passover. Would Jesus come to the Feast – many were asking that – many were wondering. John 11 verses 55 to 57.
Some would have seen Jesus as they made their way to the city. They all had to climb the hills and come over the summits and into the city.
Jesus has come up from Jericho. Go and find the colt – I need that colt.
What does Jesus need from us today?
Jesus could control this untamed untrained donkey immediately.
It takes years to train a police horse.
For many it was excitement and singing – Jesus saw it as a day of tragedy. People had been waiting a thousand years for this day – since King David reigned in Jerusalem. After David and Solomon there was civil war – and the nation never again united. Israel was then invaded – and taken off to Babylon for 70 years.
Some returned – but soon other invaders came – the Syrians – Alexander the Great and the Greeks – and finally the Romans.
Philip ruled in the north from Caesarea Philippi – Galilee belonged to Herod the grandson of Herod who killed the children in Bethlehem – the Samaritans had the centre – Pontius Pilate ruled in Jerusalem. The people looked again for another man like King David. This was their expectancy for a thousand years.
There were zealots – there were plots. Nationalism was a hope in many hearts.
They were fed up being ruled over by others. Is this not strangely relevant?
They had tried to make Him King some years earlier – but Jesus said ‘NO’. John 6.
This king could be wonderful teacher, and a loving friend to many. He loves the common people – he is able to put hypocritical religious leaders in their place – he is fond of children – can feed the hungry – and heal the sick.
Here he comes. This is it. There is a tide of national feeling. This was going to be the end of foreign domination – and the end of a divided country.
They cried “Hosanna” – which means – “Save us now” – it is an expression of impatience. Jesus – now is the time to deal with all this – these Romans.
They quoted Psalm 118 – which is about defeating the Egyptians. This was a militaristic phrase. They took Palm Branches. They did this with clothes, for a man called Jehu, who came to liberate Israel from the domination of weak Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel. II Kings 9 verse 13.
They took palm branches in the times of the Maccabees.
And, on ‘Palm Sunday’, they took palm branches or palm leaves.
The people thought this was going to be a mighty military victory – as Jesus rode down the Mount of Olives on a donkey! You can walk down that same road today.
Can you imagine the feelings among the disciples on this occasion?
Jesus is not rejoicing. Jesus is sobbing – Luke 19 verse 41. Jesus loved this city and this people. Jesus knew that this type of nationalism would end up in utter disaster. Jesus could see the Temple, and the city being overrun. This all happened 40 years later, when over a million people died in that Roman invasion.
The people had not noticed the animal – their eyes were on Jesus – and they did not notice the significance of the colt – the donkey – the ass. This was culturally appropriate at that time – a king would ride into a city publicly and be hailed by cheering crowds. But Jesus departed from part of the script – Jesus did not ride in on a strong powerful horse, but on a POLO – a colt or small donkey.
Jesus was indeed King, but Jesus would not fit into the world’s categories of Kingship. Jesus brings together majesty and meekness.
Jesus comes with infinite majesty – and complete total humility – and perfect justice.
This is our King – and he is riding into battle – spiritual warfare – into Jerusalem – on a little donkey. Jesus comes as the Prince of Peace – not a military leader.
Zechariah Chapter 9 explains – riding on a donkey is not a symbol of humility but of kingly power – fulfilling prophecy – submitting to the Scriptures – but the people did not know the Scriptures.
When on 11 December 1917, General Allenby liberated Jerusalem, he dismounted from his horse. He entered the city at the Jaffa gate, on foot.
Jesus came with peace – Jesus came for peaceful purposes, but the people were unaware. Many were disappointed by Jesus, and with Jesus, on that day.
Jesus entered Jerusalem through the Golden Gate – and turned left – not right, where the Roman Antonia fortress was – the HQ of the Roman garrison.
Jesus enters the Temple area. There were throngs of people – buying and selling animals – exchanging money at an exorbitant rate. Some 250,000 lambs were bought and sold and sacrificed during this Passover season.
Think of the noise – the tumult – and this was supposed to be the place of quiet reflection and meditation and worship and prayer. This was profoundly disturbing.
Jesus’ reaction was to start overthrowing the furniture.
“What is going on? Why are you doing this?” Jesus quotes from Isaiah 56 verse 7 – “My house shall be called a House of Prayer for all nations.”
These courts were meant for the Gentiles – for us – and they had become commercial trading floors.
It was popularly believed that when the Messiah came, the Messiah would purge the Temple of foreigners. Instead – Jesus is clearing the Court of the Gentiles – the place of worship for the Gentiles – for foreigners – for us.
Within the week we were going to have direct access to God – although that did not come about for some weeks – not until Peter went up to meet with Roman Centurion Cornelius at Caesarea – but the curtain was torn in two – 15 verse 38 – the dividing wall was about to be demolished. Ephesians 2 verse 14. God did it.
The curtain was not just ruined – it was made obsolete – and we now have access to God through Jesus Christ. Our loving concerned God did it.
The crowds were so disappointed with Jesus that within a few days they were shouting “Crucify Him”. You either crown Him – or kill Him.
Jesus wanted to gather the people like a hen gathering chicks under her wings, but they would not come – Luke 13 verse 34f.
O Jerusalem – if only you had known what would bring you peace!
O Europe, if only you knew him, who could bring you peace.
O Islam, if only you knew him, who could bring you peace.
O Scotland, if only you knew him, who could bring you peace, at this troubled time.
Jesus wants to come in and put right what is wrong,
I want to deal with your sin and sins and throw out what should not be in this temple.
Meekness and majesty – manhood and deity –
In perfect harmony – the man who is God –
Father’s pure radiance – perfect in innocence –
Yet learns obedience – to death on a cross –
Suffering to give us life – conquering through sacrifice –
And as they crucify, prays, “Father, forgive’.
O what a mystery – meekness and majesty –
Bow down and worship – for this is your God!
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