WHAT KIND OF A KING IS THIS?
Sorry, I'm a little behind with my postings. Today, we will continue looking at the Gospel of Matthew. I'm not necessarily in a hurry to finish Matthew's gospel, but I am speeding through it. I think that once we get through the other gospels we will have a better understanding of the whole picture.
"As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!' When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, 'Who is this?" (Matthew 21:1-2,6-10)
I will say more about this scene when we arrive at Mark and Luke's version of the story. What we need to know is, the crowds gave Jesus a parade. For a moment he is the man of the hour. What is interesting is: The "crowd" gives him a parade into the city, but notice, the "whole city" asked, "Who is this?" The crowds that give the parade answer: "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee." (Mat. 21:11) Well, there had to have been a reason for the "crowd" to behave the way they did. Why did they give Jesus a parade as he made his way into the city?
Well, they surely believed that he was in fact the messiah whom they had waited for. According to Matthew's account Jesus has not yet been to Jerusalem. So, his arrival there was a major deal. Then, the people see him riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. What is happening here is very similar to a living parable. Jesus is acting out his message. The passage in chapter five: "Say to the Daughter of Zion, 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey," is a quote from Zechariah 9:9. Clearly, the "crowd" understands Jesus as being the king who has now come. Of course, there is the question: What kind of king is Jesus to be? What is his kingdom like? Well, they understood Jesus as being the one who was to come and deliver them from Roman oppression. He would then establish his kingdom on earth. Then, to help them further believe that this is the fulfillment of scripture Jesus goes immediately to the temple.
"Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 'It is written,' he said to them, 'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a den pf robbers." (Matthew 2: 12-13)
O.K., if you are following along Jesus leaves the parade route and makes his way to the temple. I would propose that the people who gave him the parade followed him all the way to the temple. When Jesus began overthrowing the tables and exercised authority in the temple, they probably thought, "Yes! Get 'em! Yes! Finally, this is the messiah. Look at him go." But, then he left. He went to Bethany to sleep. When he returned he told a few more parables and taught a few more lessons, but no more flexing his muscles. Can you imagine the thoughts of those who gave him a parade? What happened to him overthrowing the government? Why would one who had come to rid them of the Romans be concerned with taking time to teach about marriage? And why would he instruct them to pay taxes to Caesar? Hmm....I think I can understand why the people went from giving him a parade to turning their backs on him. He wasn't who they thought he was. He wasn't what they wanted him to be.
I wonder...If Jesus actually came back to our world today just to live for a time like he did way back then, how would we react to him. What if Jesus disagreed with our traditions and doctrines and our way of interpreting the Bible? If Jesus didn't meet our expectations would we turn our backs on him?
Yesterday a few of us from church went to watch the movie, "The Star." It was a good movie and very kid friendly. Being a student of theology I had to immediately realize that the movie wasn't concerned with total accuracy, but the story was wonderful. It was the birth narrative as told through the eyes of animals. The story began with a miniature donkey having a dream of one day carrying kings upon his back. Well, as the story went along it was looking to him as though his dream would never come true. But, he eventually carried Mary into Bethlehem. When the baby was born, he realized that he had indeed carried a king upon his back. The king did ride into Jerusalem, but the people expected a different king.
Join me tomorrow as we continue to look at Jesus in Jerusalem.