April 17, 2011

Sunday (Holy Week)

This is the day that has become known as Palm Sunday.  We also refer to this as the day of the Triumphal Entry.  Bethany is only a few miles outside of the city and that city becomes the “home base” of Jesus’ final week.

Before Jesus enters Jerusalem, he is near the mount of Olives, he sends two disciples into Jerusalem to get a Donkey.
saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.”
(Matthew 21:2-3 ESV)
Getting this donkey's colt may seem like an odd event, but the gospel writers realize this was a fulfillment of prophecy and quote Zechariah 9:9 as an explanation.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
(Zechariah 9:9 ESV)
As Jesus entered Jerusalem, riding on this donkey, people were laying down their coats and palm branches.  Mark also tells us this:
And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
(Mark 11:9-10 ESV)
Luke adds this:
As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
(Luke 19:37-40 ESV)
And John tells us this:
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. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”
(John 12:17-19 ESV)
Luke also tells us about this event on the way into the city.
And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
(Luke 19:41-44 ESV)
click for image source
As most people would do entering a capital city, he visits the main attraction, The Temple.  This temple is a huge construction.  It is the dominant feature in the city of Jerusalem at this time.  It would have been the tallest structure and by far the largest structure. (considering the entire temple complex.)

At some point this interaction takes place.

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.
(John 12:27-36 ESV)

This interaction helps us to see the disconnect between the real and great and glorious purposes of the Messiah compared to what the people were expecting. Though all of the gospel accounts don’t tell us this, Mark lets us know that Jesus heads back to Bethany that first night.
And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
(Mark 11:11 ESV)