By Pastor Gilbert Owen Contributing columnist
April 14, 2014
(This series, incuding Parts 2-4 today, is based on Pastor Gilbert Owens study and research.)
It is early Sunday morning. As usual, Jesus Christ is up before dawn praying to his Father. After prayer Jesus and His disciples began their final journey to Jerusalem. When they came to the Mount of Olives, they can all see Jerusalem and the Temple. Jesus gives two of His disciples an early morning task. He tells them to go on ahead to the small village of Bethpage, where they will find an ass (donkey) tied, that has never been ridden, and a colt with her. Jesus tells them to bring both animals to Him. This was done to fulfill the prophecies of Isaiah (62:11) and Zechariah (9:9) as stated in the Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint.
The two disciples went and did as Jesus told them. Upon the animals being brought to Jesus, the disciples place their garments on the colt and Jesus placed himself on the colt. As Jesus prepared to descend from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem, the disciples took off their garments and placed them in the road. When others in the area became aware of the presence of Jesus, many did the same and some cut down palm branches and placed them on the road to Jerusalem. By this time, the multitudes that are in the area for Passover see Jesus coming on a donkey and began to shout, “Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna is the highest.” (Matt. 21:9)
Jesus entry into Jerusalem was like that of most Kings who enter a city. Often a king comes riding on an ass/donkey, which is a sign of peace. If a King comes riding on a colt/horse, it was a sign of war. Jesus came into Jerusalem as a King of peace. Jesus entry into Jerusalem shows us three things about Him. (1) It shows us His courage, for He knew his entry would lead to his death. (2) It show us His claim to be the Messiah as prophesied by Isaiah and Zechariah. (3) It shows us His final appeal to the hearts of men. Jesus did not want Israel to open up their palaces to Him, but to open up their hearts to Him.
As Jesus gets closer to Jerusalem, He is overcome with emotion and begins to weep over Jerusalem. He weeps because his ministry is about to come to an end. He weeps because He knows most of the Jews will not repent. He weeps because He sees the coming destruction of the Temple. He weeps because the rejection of God’s grace through Him will lead to God’s judgment.
When Jesus comes into Jerusalem, the entire city was at an uproar. Some asked, “Who is this?” Many believed this was the day they had been waiting; a King that would free them from the bondage of Rome. But many, like the Pharisees and Sadducees were disgusted with His entry. Jesus goes into the Temple and looked around upon all things. Evening was now coming and Jesus and his disciples travel back to Bethany to spend another night at Lazarus house. They will return to Jerusalem on tomorrow – Monday.
Jesus sets things in order
It is early Monday morning. All of Jerusalem is still buzzing about the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem the day before. Jesus and his disciples are already walking from Bethany back to Jerusalem, without eating breakfast.
As they walk to Jerusalem, a hungry Jesus spots a fig tree. Although it is not time for fig trees to bear any fruit, Jesus approaches the fig tree hoping to find fruit to eat, He only finds leaves on the tree. The fruit of a fig tree normally appears in February followed by leaves that which are not formed until late spring, (April/May). Therefore, there should have been some fruit left on the tree. Out of disappointment Jesus curses the fig tree by saying in Mark 11:14, “No man [will] eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever.” The disciples here this and wonder. Jesus would later, (Tuesday) use this as a teaching moment for His disciples.
As Jesus and his disciples enter Jerusalem, they immediately go inside the Temple. As at all prior Passovers, the Temple is full of commerce. There are aides of the High Priest selling doves for the sacrifices and for profit. There are aides of the High Priest collecting the Temple Tax which will be shared among the High Priest, Pontius Pilate and the Roman Emperor. There are aides of the High Priest making loans and receiving payments for loans for profit. There are also tables of money changers, called “shulhanim” exchanging coins into shekels, which is the standard currency for Jerusalem. This exchange is also done for profit.
By now, Jesus has a crowd following Him everywhere He goes. Many are wondering if He will again overthrow the tables of money changers as He did once before. Their question is answered and Jesus once again overturns the tables of the money changers. But this time, as He does so, instead of saying, “My Father’s house is a house of prayer, you have made it a house of merchandise,” (John 2:16); Jesus now repeats Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11 by saying, “My house shall be called the House of Prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” (Matthew 21:13 and Mark 11:17) This act of Jesus further intensifies the angry against Him from the religious establishment for He once again interferes with their flow of money into their pockets.
After this, Jesus commences to heal the blind and the lame inside the Temple, causing further antagonism among the religious establishment. Later the Greeks request a visit with Jesus. Jesus uses this opportunity to tell of his coming death and to give additional spiritual truths as found in John 12:20-50. Jesus and his disciples again leave Jerusalem to spend another night in Bethany with Lazarus only to return again to Jerusalem on Tuesday morning.
A full day of teaching
It is now Tuesday morning and Jesus along with his disciples are on their way back to Jerusalem from Lazarus’s house. As they take the same trail as the day before, they once again pass the same fig tree, which is now withered. Peter remembers Jesus cursing the tree the day before and the rest of the disciples marvel at how the tree is now withered away. Jesus uses this moment to teach them that all things are subject to the Word of God. He also uses this moment as an opportunity to teach his disciples more about faith, prayer and forgiveness.
Jesus enters the Temple and begins to teach. He is immediately challenged by the priests and elders about His authority. Jesus ultimately reveals that all authority to do all things comes from God and not from man. From there, Jesus talks about John the Baptist. He teaches the parable of the two sons, the parable of the wicked husbandmen and the parable of the marriage feast.
The Pharisees in an attempt to trick Jesus while He is teaching send their disciples and the Herodians to question Jesus about loyalty to Caesar. The Sadducees then come to question Jesus about the resurrection of the dead. The Pharisees themselves come back to Jesus to challenge Him on which commandment is the greatest. Jesus confounds them all with his wisdom and teaching. Jesus then challenges the Pharisees on Christ being the Son of David.
While yet in the Temple, great multitudes of people are around Jesus and according to Matthew chapters 23. Jesus gives his last public sermon to the masses. Jesus begins His last public sermon denouncing the scribes and Pharisee by calling them hypocrites. He ends the sermon by lamenting for Jerusalem and by referring to His death, resurrection and ascension.
Jesus then leaves the Temple with his disciples and begins to give them foresight into the future. He tells them of the coming destruction of the Temple, the signs of His coming back to earth for his people, (elect/church) after His ascension into heaven, the forthcoming years of tribulation, the coming of false Christs and false prophets, (preachers). After this, Jesus began teaching His disciples the parable of the ten virgins, the parable of the talents and concludes by telling them that after two days he would be betrayed and crucified, (Matt. 26:2)
As in the days before, Jesus and his disciples leave Jerusalem for Bethany and they enter the house of Simon the leper, who is the father of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. While there, Jesus is anointed for burial by a woman with an alabaster box of ointment. Jesus and his disciples settle in for the night. Tomorrow is Wednesday, and it will be the day when a trap is set for Jesus.