Saturday, March 23, 2024

Morning Message: The Time Is At Hand

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "The Time Is At Hand"
Written by:  Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As we enter Easter/Passover Week, we are taking a two week break from our study in Revelation. We have been following events of the future, and it's time to pay closer attention to the most important week of Jesus’ life while on Earth.

Palm Sunday was a day of joy and celebration for Jesus’ flock that has followed him for a week or two from the Galilee Region. As they climb the Mount of Olives from the east, they leave the towns Bethpage, and Bethany behind them, and cresting the top of the Mount, Jerusalem comes into view, that glorious City. It was at that time, as it is today, as steep climb down to cross the Kidron Valley, and before coming to the rise again leading up into Jerusalem. His followers are filled with excitement, anticipating His victorious taking of the Throne of David.

Getting caught up in an exciting event, it is easy to become distracted in the minute-to-minute things and lose sight of what is really going on. Jesus was leading His flock into Jerusalem. Passover was only a week away. Surely, this was the time for Jesus to claim the Throne of David, as David’s rightful heir. Israel’s release from the occupying Army of Rome would bring freedom to the Jews. What could possibly go wrong?

But Jesus had told His Disciples not long ago about the trip to Jerusalem.
He had to go to the City, the priests and leaders would charge Him, and being turned over to the Gentile Army of Rome, He would be condemned, beaten, abused and crucified!

Caught up in the excitement they were all feeling, they lost sight of Jesus’ own prophetic words spoken earlier. For us, we know how easy it is to be drawn away by distractions of all sorts, any sort! How do we rid ourselves of the distractions. Get your heart off the excitement, and touch base with reality again. Quiet yourself and prepare to hear from the Holy Spirit indwelling you.

Jesus said, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” - Matthew 6:6

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version:

Sunday Morning Audio Message:
Matthew 21:1-17 - "The Time Is At Hand"

Summary/Additional Bible Notes:  

In Matthew 21, we come to a monumental moment in the history of our Lord. This is the triumphal entry, the event we call Palm Sunday.

Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem to all of the praise and hosannas of the people who are acclaiming Him as the King and the Messiah. In this triumphant day of acclamation, what looked like the most hopeful moment in the life of our Lord, are many thousands of people shouting Hosanna to their conquering hero.

Palm Sunday is a day for Hallelujahs, a day for Hosannas. As King Jesus enters Jerusalem to the praise of His people, the waving of palm branches, the casting of their garments at His feet. This is the day when the people of Jerusalem and of all Israel gathered for the Passover. People who were even Gentile proselytes to Judaism, were all in a massive mob hailing Him as Son of David, King of Israel. A day in which the anticipation of the long-awaited Messiah seemed to have met its fruition, its fulfillment. Finally, He had come. Finally, the one they had prayed for and longed for had arrived. Tragically, by Friday He was dead; really, at the hands of the very people who had hailed Him on Sunday.

The death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross was no accident. It was not a bad ending to a noble effort by a good man. In fact, Jesus’ death on the cross was not the ending of His story; it was really the beginning of our salvation. The death of Jesus Christ was not even the end of His life. It was the goal of His life, and the beginning of our eternal lives.

Jesus and the disciples have nearly completed their long journey from the region of Galilee in the north to Jerusalem. They have now travelled the last leg from Jericho to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, not far from Jerusalem's gates.

Before entering Jerusalem, though, Jesus directs two of His disciples to go into a village where they will find a donkey and its colt tied up. Jesus has arranged to ride the colt into Jerusalem to intentionally fulfill a prophecy about the Messiah. Zechariah predicted the King would come humbly and riding a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). The symbolism of this is easy to miss. Donkeys are common work animals and unsuited for battle. Victorious conquerors of that era would parade on horses, much as a modern general might ride into a city on the back of a tank. Riding a donkey, rather than a warhorse, is more like a modern person sitting in a pickup truck. In the future, Christ will come in power and judgment (Revelation 19:11–16). This time, His arrival is consistent with His role as a sacrificial Savior (Matthew 21:1–7).

As Jesus rides toward the gates, the large crowd following Him is joined by even more people coming out of Jerusalem, who have heard He is arriving. They put their outer garments and branches on the road in front of Him as symbols of submission and Jewish victory. They also shout out lines from Psalm 118 that are meant for the Messiah: "Hosanna to the Son of David!" and "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" Jerusalem is stirred up. People who don't know ask who Jesus is. Some reply that He is a prophet from Nazareth of Galilee (Matthew 21:8–11).

Jesus later enters the massive temple in Jerusalem. He drives out those selling and buying animals. He overthrows the tables and benches of the moneychangers. This seems to be a second, separate incident from the one recorded in the gospel of John (John 2:13–22). Jesus' anger is not about business or money, itself, but the crass way in which these men are profiting from the spiritual needs of the people (Matthew 21:12–13).

While at the temple, Jesus heals some blind and lame people who come to Him for help. Some children see this and begin to repeat the praises of the crowds as Jesus rode into town. Jesus defends the children to some chief priests and scribes who question Him. He does this, once again, by citing Old Testament Scripture (Matthew 21:14–17).

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

Mount of Olives (21:1) - The Mount of Olives, sometimes referred to as “Olivet” in the KJV (2 Samuel 15:30Acts 1:12) or “the mount facing Jerusalem” (1 Kings 11:7), is a ridge running along the east side of Jerusalem, separated from the city walls by a ravine and the Brook Kidron. The Mount of Olives was the site of many events in the Bible and will be the site of a yet-future fulfillment of prophecy.  Jesus’ visiting the Mount of Olives three times in the last week of His earthly life, and each time something of significance happened. The first visit is what we call the triumphal entry.  second visit was to deliver what has come to be known as the Olivet Discourse, recorded in Matthew 24:1 —25:46.  Jesus’ third visit during the week of His passion was on the night He was betrayed. 

A Colt with Her (21:2) - The parallel accounts in Mark 11:2 and Luke 19:30 only mention one donkey, but that does not mean they deny that two were involved.  Matthew is the only one who mentions that this incident was in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, but the others must have known this reference.

Spoken by the Prophet (21:4) - See Zechariah 9:9. Here for the first time Christ presented Himself publicly to the Jews as their promised Messiah and King.

The Multitudes (21:9) - The fickle multitudes unwittingly fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 118:25-26.  They only perceived Jesus as "the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee" (21:11) and expected Him to defeat Roman rule and restore the kingdom to Israel.  While they had frequently called Him "son of David," they had a knowledge without understanding.  Understanding the importance of Jesus's lineage, and His legal right as heir to David's throne, they did not know Him as Savior, Redeemer, and Lord.  These Multitudes who shouted "Hosanna" meaning "save now", in just five short days shouted crucify Him. 

Cast Out All Them (21:12) - Jesus had similarly cleansed the temple near the very beginning of His earthly ministry (John 2:13016), yet only a few years later the religious profiteers were at it again.  This second purging, probably as much as anything else, caused the rulers to determine to have Him executed.

It Is Written (21:13) - There is nothing that reproves more that the Scriptures themselves.  See Hebrews 4:12-14.   This is Jesus' turf, because this is the House of God.  Jesus shows them what the temple should be, and was designed to be; "My house shall be called the house of prayer;" which is quoted from Isa. 56:7.  Then Jesus shows them their sinful hearts.  They had abused the temple and perverted the intention of it quoting from Jeremiah 7:11, "Ye have made it a den of thieves." Jesus comes and sees this horrifying but familiar scene. And it says to us something so important; it says that Christ came, first of all, to deal with men on a spiritual level.  He came to throw out corrupt worship and to bring in true worship. Only He has divine authority to do so.

Have Ye Never Read (21:16) - Again Jesus quotes the Scriptures. Quoting Psalm 8:2, Jesu rebuked "the chief priests and scribes" for rebuking the children crying in the temple (21:15). Two Hebrew words used in Psalm 8:2 to refer to infants under the age of three, because Hebrew mothers suckled their babies until they were about three - “‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise.’” In other words, even little babies can simply, and in an uncluttered way, praise God. He’s using that Psalm as an illustration of what is going on. If God will not be praised out of the mouths of the mature, He will be praised out of the mouths of the immature. God is going to get His praise to His Son, “even if the stones have to cry out,” - Luke 19:40.

And He Left Them (21:17) - Haunting words to those who deny Christ. 
And in that simple, physical act, there was a volume of truth. “He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and He lodged there.” He really left them, because the next day, in verse 23, they come and say, “By what authority do You do these things, and who gave You this authority?” And in verse 27, He gets around finally to saying, “Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.” He left them. He had nothing more to say.  It’s reminiscent of Genesis 6, where the Bible says, “God’s Spirit will not always strive with man.” There comes a time when He leaves.

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