Lesson 21 In and Out of Jerusalem, Cleanses Temple 2 nd Time. Jesus Sends Disciples for Colt Matthew 21:1-7; Mark 11:1-7; Luke 19:28-35

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1 Lesson 21 In and Out of Jerusalem, Cleanses Temple 2 nd Time Jesus Sends Disciples for Colt Matthew 21:1-7; Mark 11:1-7; Luke 19:28-35 Jesus and His disciples have now left Bethany and are headed for Jerusalem along with thousands of pilgrims making their way for the Passover. They come to a place called Bethphage, which is between Bethany and Jerusalem situated on the Mount of Olives. From this elevated position they would be able to see Jerusalem to the west. Jesus then sent two disciples into the village opposite to secure a donkey that He intended to ride into Jerusalem. None of the three gospels tell us which disciples were sent, and none explains why the owners of the donkey would allow it to be used by Jesus. The story has more intrigue if we assume that Jesus gave some sort of mind-control power to the disciples, and they were able to wave their hand in front of the owners much like a Jedi Knight and cause them to submit. It is more likely that Jesus had made previous arrangements for His use of the animals. We do not know for sure, but there is no other example of Jesus exercising control over people in that way. Matthew is the only writer who quotes the Old Testament here as a prophetic witness to this event. The first line of the quotation comes from Isaiah 62:11, and the rest from Zechariah 9:9. The emphasis Matthew is making is that the King is coming to Zion, but He is not like a military or political king. He is gentle, or humble, and instead of riding a war horse like most kings, He is mounted upon a donkey, the lowliest of animals. Instead of a show of force, Jesus shows that His path to Kingship is through suffering and humiliation. The disciples prepare the colt for Jesus to ride by placing garments on it. The Lord knew He was riding into a firestorm of anger in Jerusalem. The chief priests have already committed to killing Him (John 11:53). A mighty king with an army may still decide to ride into enemy territory because of the strength of his army. Jesus did it on a colt with no army. It may have appeared like the act of a man weak and humble, but in truth it was a show of extreme bravery and commitment. Jesus Enters Jerusalem on a Colt, Sun. April 2, A.D. 30 Jesus Enters Jerusalem on Colt He Weeps Mt 21:8-11; Mk 11:8-10; Luke 19:35-44; John 12:12-19 Matthew makes it clear that there was a large crowd or multitude of people present when Jesus began His ride. Likely He was still on the mountain rode that led to Jerusalem when the people spread their garments in the road and put palm branches on the road before Him. This was very much in line with rolling out the red carpet for royalty. The other three gospels all say the people acknowledged Jesus as a king with their shouts which come from Psalm 118. Hosanna is the Greek form of a Hebrew word that means give salvation now, or give victory now. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord was a form of Jewish welcome. Welcome, in the Lord s name is actually what they say. 1

2 Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey with a multitude of people following and crying out. Certainly this was a spectacle that aroused many to wonder Who is this? We need only to imagine being there to understand why all the city was stirred. The pilgrims following along are all too willing to inform them that, This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee. There is little doubt that the people thought Him to be the prophet of Deut. 18:15 who was promised by Moses. The prophet they believed would be a deliverer like Moses and exalt national Israel. John tells us that much of the crowd with Jesus were with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb. This would only add to their enthusiasm and expectation of His coming kingdom to Jerusalem. Others had heard that He had performed this sign and were going out to meet Him. Hopes were high as most waited to see what He would do. The Jewish leaders started blaming others for what was happening. You see that you are not doing any good; look, the world has gone after Him. This is somewhat of a prophetic statement. We know that Jews and Gentiles alike have gone after Him as the Savior of their lives. Luke tells us that some Pharisees said to Him, Teacher, rebuke Your disciples. Clearly they thought He should stop them from crying out what they were saying because it was incorrect. He answered and said, I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out! Even though most did not understand what was happening Jesus knew that it was significant enough that the shouts were appropriate and would not be silenced. Heaven and earth were declaring that the Messiah had indeed come to Israel. Jesus is so moved by the lack of understanding that as He approached, He saw the city and wept over it. He knows that Jerusalem will be leveled to the ground in roughly 40 years. Israel has never learned the things which make for peace. They do not know true peace with God, and consequently, they do not experience peace with their enemies. All this causes Jesus to cry over them. How strange it is that Jesus rides into Jerusalem among much fanfare and expectation of Him delivering it from its enemies, only to have Him prophesy that it will be leveled by its enemies. Certainly He did not live up to their expectations. They did not recognize the time of (their) visitation. They did not realize that God s Messiah truly was among them, and it cost them dearly. This is true of anyone who misses the time of their own visitation. Jesus does not come as we expect Him, and He is easy to miss. We must recognize Him on His terms and not as we want Him to be. He is a humble and gentle King, and all who follow must be willing to become like Him. Jesus Enters Temple, Then Heads Back to Bethany Mark 11:11 Mark is the only writer that tells us that when Jesus entered Jerusalem He came into the temple; and after looking all around, He departed for Bethany with the twelve since it was already late. This exit and re-entrance of Jerusalem helps explain the story of the Fig Tree. There is no explanation of why Jesus would want to go to the temple and just look around. Maybe He was gathering information for His return the next day. Most likely He was going back to Mary and Martha s house for the evening. Jerusalem by day, Bethany by night seems to 2

3 have become a routine for the Lord at this time. It would have been difficult to find lodging in Jerusalem with all the outsiders there for the Passover. Jesus Curses a Fig Tree Next Morning on Way Back to Jerusalem Matt. 21:18-19a; Mark 11:12-14 It is interesting that Jesus became hungry the next morning on the way back to Jerusalem. We wonder why He would not have had breakfast recently. It also needs to be remembered that the story of the fig tree is primarily a parable of Israel. This is made somewhat clear by the fact that He looked for figs when it was not the season for figs. Just like the tree, Jesus came to Jerusalem and hoped to find spiritual fruit, but instead found dryness of heart. The cursing of the fig tree represents the fact that the temple and Jerusalem will never bear the fruit it was intended to bear. The curse of the fig tree would be seen in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and beyond. Jesus Cleanses Temple a Second Time, Mon. April 3, A.D. 30 Mt 21:12-16; Mk 11:15-18; Lk 19:45-48 Malachi 3:1 promises the sudden appearance of the messenger to His temple. A literal rendering of Zechariah 14:21 promises a day when there will no longer be a merchant in the house of the Lord. The Jewish expectation was that the Messiah would come and cleanse the temple of pagan and Jewish false worship. Little did the Jews know that the Messiah would suddenly come and take issue with their temple practices. Jesus entered the part of the temple that was known as the Court of the Gentiles. It was a place for Gentiles of all nations to come and pray. Jesus takes issue with what is happening here by quoting from Isaiah 56:7: For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Isaiah is speaking literally of foreigners coming to the house of the Lord for prayer. Instead of that being the case, the Jews have made the temple a robbers den. Jesus has issue with the way the money is being handled, and the selling of the sacrificial animals. There was nothing wrong with selling animals to those who came from far away. It was a service to them, since it would be difficult to bring an animal. The issue was with the way it was being abused, and the way merchants were making profit off the people. There is evidence that the chief priests may have had shops in operation and/or were making profits off the sales. Jesus did not address the situation with gentleness or diplomacy. He entered the temple and overturned the tables of the money changers, and the seats of those who were selling doves, and He would not permit anyone to carry goods through the temple and all the multitude was astonished at His teaching. The Pharisees, the people, and likely His disciples were astonished at the vehemence Jesus displayed at the way the temple was being corrupted. We can only wonder if we would be surprised if He were to suddenly show up in His house today. There is no doubt we should be sober-minded and careful to not corrupt the temple of God today with sin or selfish gain. For if God did not spare the natural branches (Jews), neither will He spare you (Rom. 11:21). Yes, Jesus loves mercy, but He also loves His Father s house. His actions 3

4 here showed that He thought of Himself as having the authority to discipline those who corrupt the house of God. The chief priests and the elders will later challenge Him as to where He gets this authority (Matt. 21:23). Jesus shows His compassion again by healing the blind and the lame who are in the temple. All that He did caused the children in the temple to cry out, Hosanna to the Son of David. The children are prophetically declaring spiritual truth that is lost to the elders of the land. This causes the chief priests and the scribes to become indignant. They question Jesus as to why He would allow the children to ascribe praise to Him. Jesus quotes Psalm 8:2, which says that infants and nursing babes will praise God in strength. This would only serve to enrage the chief priests even more. In their minds Jesus should not allow the children, or anyone, to render praise to Him that is due only to God. Jesus Overnights in Bethany, Finds Fig Tree Barren Next Morning Matt 21:19b-22; Mark 11:19-26 During Passover many travelers had to find sleeping arrangements outside of Jerusalem. Jesus and His disciples were no exception. He likely stayed with Mary and Martha in Bethany on the slopes of the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:39). He and many others would make the two mile trek back and forth to Jerusalem daily during the Passover. On this particular morning Mark says they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. This would be the tree Jesus had cursed the previous morning. Matthew wants to create an impression in his reader s minds and says when Jesus cursed the tree it withered at once. The purpose of this story is to make a correlation between the barren temple and the tree. Micah 7:1-2 uses the barren fig tree metaphor to speak of Israel s moral barrenness. Jesus had used the same analogy earlier to suggest that Israel was barren, and would eventually be cut down if fruit was not produced soon (Luke 13:6-9). The idea that a tree would promise fruit and then not bear any is used to speak of a religious system that is without true godliness. The prophet Jeremiah pronounced judgement on the house of the Lord because Israel had an outward show of religion, but no inner reality of godliness (Jer. 7:8-15). Jesus has already demonstrated His anger toward such a system when He wrecked the temple stalls and money tables. The cursing of the tree and its subsequent withering clearly points to the destruction and barrenness of Jerusalem and their temple system. This has always been the fate of empty religious systems that claim to worship the true God. Interestingly, it is not the parable that the disciples notice, but rather they are impressed by the withering of the tree. They want to know how this could happen so quickly. The Lord responds by telling them they can not only do the same, but they can say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea. This was a rabbinic proverb for expressing the impossible (See Isaiah 54:10). It was not an invitation to pray for mountains to be moved. Jesus uses the moment to teach about faith in prayer. True faith does not doubt (James 1:6-7). Faith in prayer is not the ability to believe whatever we ask, but rather it is faith directed to the One we ask. This faith comes by knowing that we understand the will of God and ask according to His will (1 John 4

5 5:14-15). In no way did Jesus believe or teach that we can ask whatever we decide and receive it (James 4:3). Mark continues the teaching moment by saying Jesus attached to this the idea of forgiveness as another condition of answered prayer. There is an inherent hypocrisy in one sinner coming to a holy God expecting Him to condescend, listen, and answer, when that sinner will not exercise the same kindness and forgiveness toward another sinner. Verse 26 reminds us of Matthew 6:15 which teaches the same principle of forgiveness. Authority Challenged in the Temple Matthew 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8 Since Jesus has arrived in the area in and around Jerusalem He has stirred things up with His actions in the temple, His symbolic cursing of a tree depicting the destruction of the temple system, His healings, and His teaching. On this morning we again find Him teaching in the temple, when the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him and said, By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority? Matthew points out in this section that Jesus has conflict with the chief priests and the scribes (21:15), the chief priests and the elders (21:23), the chief priests and Pharisees (21:45), the Pharisees along with the Herodians (22:15-16), and the Sadducees (22:23). Clearly, the leaders of the nation are at odds with Jesus. Getting all these groups to agree on anything is like getting Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians to agree. In spite of their differences, they all agree that Jesus must be stopped. Luke is the one that lets us know that the content of the Lord s teaching in the temple included the preaching of the gospel. When it comes to this type of teaching for Jesus, it usually refers to the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23, 9:35). While prophetically declaring the deadness of the Jewish system and temple cult, Jesus was in the temple announcing the good news of the Messianic kingdom. The chief priests and the scribes and the elders were the leaders of the Jewish cult, and somewhat of the Jewish nation. To see someone come along and simply start destroying the temple stalls and then set up His own teaching section would naturally raise the question, by what authority are You doing these things? Instead of a direct answer Jesus uses a Rabbinic tactic of debate by answering a question with a question. His question was directly relevant to theirs. John had declared that one would come after him with more anointing and authority than he had (Matt. 3:11). Many of the people knew about John and believed him to be a prophet. It was generally believed that God sent prophets in His name (Deut. 18:15). The logical connecting of dots says that if John was a prophet he was sent by God, and he declared Jesus to be greater than he was. The leaders are caught. If they answer honestly, they answer their own question. Jesus authority comes from heaven. Who are they to challenge it at that point? If they decide to try to denigrate John and say his baptism was from men, they feared the people would stone them. So they chose not to give an answer. By not giving an answer to such a relevant question they forfeited their ability to question Jesus publically. 5

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