LIFE OF CHRIST
In our last lesson, Jesus was having supper with Mary, Martha and Lazarus, and we have few more verses to look at regarding that event starting in:
John 12:9 Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.
Many times when the Jews are mentioned in the Gospels, it is talking about those who were opposed Jesus. But sometimes it is used to refer to the Jews who believed in Him as in our verses here. When the Jews found out Jesus was there, they went to see Him and Lazarus who had been raised from the dead. I imagine some of these people touched Lazarus to see if he felt any different from anyone else. He would certainly be getting more attention than he ever had in his life.
Many of the Jews believed in Jesus because of this great miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, which put Lazarus on the chief priests’ hit list. They probably thought if they could kill him, it would stop more Jews from believing in Jesus.
Next, Jesus is going to make His triumphal entry toward Jerusalem, which is recorded in all four gospel accounts: Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19, and John 12. Since all four accounts cover this, I was trying to figure out the best way to look at all four accounts. What I decided to do is to blend parts of the various accounts along the way to capture the full picture. Then I will offer some commentary when I start getting into John’s account.
Matthew 21:1 Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage (and Bethany [Mk. and Lk.]), at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her (on which no one has sat. [Mk. and Lk.]) Loose them and bring them to Me. 3 "And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord has need of them,' and immediately he will send them." 4 All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: 5 "Tell the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.' " 6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. (Mark 11: 4 So they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door outside on the street, and they loosed it. 5 But some of those who stood there said to them, "What are you doing, loosing the colt?" 6 And they spoke to them just as Jesus had commanded. Luke 19:34 And they said, "The Lord has need of him." So they let them go.) 7 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them.
As I blended these accounts together, we now have a complete picture. One difference not mentioned above is that both Mark and Luke only mention the colt, but Matthew mentions the donkey and the colt. We also saw that another prophecy is being fulfilled, but I will talk about these differences as we continue blending, but this time our main text will be John’s account.
John 12:12 The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: "Hosanna! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' The King of Israel!"
Now some of this will overlap, but I want to add parts of this great event from the other accounts as the say similar things, but add more details. See, if you can catch them.
Matthew 21:8 And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: "Hosanna to the Son of David! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' Hosanna in the highest!" 10 And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, "Who is this?" 11 So the multitudes said, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee."
Mark 11:8 And many spread their clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: "Hosanna! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' 10 Blessed is the kingdom of our father David That comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!"
Luke 19:36 And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road. 37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying: " 'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!' Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
This is known as the triumphal entry and it is recorded in all the Gospels. The use of Palm branches was customary for the reception of popular heroes and Kings.
F.F. Bruce notes:
From the time of the Maccabees palms or palm-branches had been used as a national symbol. Palm-branches figured in the procession which celebrated the rededication of the temple in 164 BC (2 Macc. 10:7) and again when the winning of full political independence was celebrated under Simon in 141 BC (1 Macc. 13:51)… On this occasion, then, the palm-branches may have signified the people’s expectation of the imminent national liberation, and this is supported by the words with which they greeted the Lord (F.F. Bruce The Gospel and Epistles of John p. 259).
This explanation makes sense because most of the Jews believed that when the Messiah came that He would establish an earthly kingdom. Since these Jews believed He was the Messiah, they thought He would help them overthrow the Romans and establish a kingdom like they had under David. Not only did they put down the palm branches, they even put down their own clothes on the pathway. They praised Him saying things like Hosanna in the highest.
Hosanna literally means “help” or “save, I pray” (BDAG). They welcomed Him in the name of the Lord and even called Him the King of Israel.
John 12:14 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: 15 "Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey's colt."
Jesus was fulfilling a prophecy about Him:
Zechariah 9:9 " Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be 'from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.'
Notice, He would come in riding on a donkey and not on a horse. A horse represented war and a donkey represented peace and humility.
According to Raymond Hagood:
Kings … would enter upon an ass or mule, which was symbolic of their humility and their desire to be at peace with their subjects. It was not appropriate for a king to enter a city upon a horse, but rather to enter meekly and humbly upon an ass. Jesus is the king of His kingdom, the church. It was appropriate for Him to enter the holy city the way that a king would enter it, riding upon an ass (Denton Lectures electronic edition on John).
In Matthew’s account it says:
Mat. 21:5 "Tell the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.' " 6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them.
Just as the prophecy states, He was riding a donkey showing His humility and His desire for peace. Some think there is a contradiction in Matthew because it says they put their clothes on the donkey and the colt, and they set Jesus on them. They think Matthew has Jesus riding on two donkeys at once, while the other accounts have Him on the colt.
First, it grammatically possible for the colt to represent both donkeys according to a rule called “plural of class” (Winer, Grammar of New Testament). However, a much simpler explanation comes from Raymond Hagood:
The explanation is found in Luke's account in Luke 19:30, when he says "whereon yet never man sat." Luke is describing a young animal still attached to his mother. They are linked together because of their mother-and-son relationship. The Lord would be riding a young, untamed colt, still closely attached to its mother, which is the reason the Lord needed them both, even though he would ride the young colt only. The mother would provide the comfort and support to allow this young animal to perform his important task (Denton Lectures electronic edition on John).
This is just another case where the whole counsel of God gives us the complete picture. Matthew lets us know the mother donkey was there beside the colt, but Jesus was riding the colt. This humble act should have showed the people that He was not coming to overthrow the Roman government because He was the King of peace.
John 12:16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.
This passage teaches us that Jesus’ disciples did not fully understand the spiritual significance of this event because they were thinking of a physical kingdom too. There was much they did not understand. For instance, they did not understand that Jesus was going to be raised from the dead (Jn. 20:9). However, after Jesus was raised from the dead, their eyes became open, especially after they received the Holy Spirit who guided them in all truth (Jn. 14:26).
John 12:17 Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. 18 For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign. 19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, "You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!"
This 7th miracle in the gospel of John of raising Lazarus from the dead is the one that drew the crowds to Jesus. The Jews who witnessed this miracle were letting every person know what He had done. Even though the opposing Jews did everything in their power to make Jesus out to be evil, they had failed. These Pharisees believed the whole world had gone after Him.
Since all these people were calling out to Jesus and basically calling Him the Messiah, Luke’s account tells us this:
Luke 19:39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." 40 But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."
You could just imagine how horrified the opposing Pharisees were to hear the disciples praising Jesus and claiming that He is the Son of God, the Messiah. So, they tried to get Jesus to rebuke them for offering up such praise to Him, but Jesus makes it clear that even if these people were silent, the stones would cry out the same thing.
With such a powerful moment, you would think things would turn out different for Jesus, but we know that rest of the story and how this praise would turn into some saying, crucify Him, crucify Him.
Next we read:
Luke 19:41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 "For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 "and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation."
At this point, Jesus has not made it into the city, He is on the descent toward the city from the Mount of Olives, which gives Him a great view of the entire city. As He looks at the city and knows what everything that God has done for this nation, it causes Him to weep. Relying just on the English translation of the word wept, we might think that this weeping was the same as the weeping that Jesus did when He saw Mary and the other weeping for Lazarus, but it is not. When Jesus wept for Mary and the others, the Greek word used primarily means to weep and shed tears while remaining silent or doing it quietly, but the Greek word behind wept when Jesus looked at the city, means that he bewailed, this is the same word used to describe how people wept about Jarius’ daughter and how Peter wept after He denied Jesus 3 times and heard the rooster crow.
So, we should be able to image Jesus crying and mourning loudly as He looked at the city knowing that many of them would suffer a cruel death. In fact, listen to what McGarvey says about this:
The summit of Olivet is two hundred feet higher than the nearest part of the city of Jerusalem and a hundred feet higher than its farthest part, so that the Lord looked upon the whole of it as one looks upon an open book. As he looked upon it he realized the difference between what his coming might mean to it and what it did mean to it; between the love and gratitude which his coming should have incited and the hatred and violence which it did incite; between the forgiveness, blessing, and peace which he desired to bring it and the judgment, wrath, and destruction which were coming upon it. The vision of it all excited strong emotion, and the verb used does not indicate silent tears, but audible sobbing and lamentation.
I want to read part of our text again, but as I do pay attention how this describes the destruction of Jerusalem that would take place in A.D. 70.
42 saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 "For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 "and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation."
Jesus will talk about the destruction of Jerusalem in much greater detail, which is known as the Olivet Discourse, but even if all we had was these few verses, we could still know that Jerusalem and her people would end up being surrounded by their enemy, which we know was the Romans. Since, we will discuss this in more detail later, let’s just take in the sadness of this all. While God’s people had every opportunity to accept Jesus as their Messiah, many rejected Him and their rejection would not only cost them their lives in A.D. 70, it would cost them their souls because they denied Christ and would not follow Him.
Now the events that just happened, happened on Sunday. Now Mark’s account will move us from Sunday to Monday.
Mark 11:11 And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve. 12 Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. 13 And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 In response Jesus said to it, "Let no one eat fruit from you ever again." And His disciples heard it.
This is pretty straight forward. It is late in the evening, but Jesus took some time to look around in the temple area, He and His 12 apostles went back to Bethany to sleep on the next day, which is Monday, they head back to Jerusalem, but on the way, Jesus is hungry and sees this fig tree in the distance with leaves. Usually a fig tree will produce its fruit before the leaves, so it has leaves, it should certainly have fruit, but this one did not because it was not the season for figs. Jesus will use this fig tree on the next day to teach His disciples a lesson, but I want you to notice what the Gospel Advocate commentary says about what Jesus said and did here.
McGarvery says? “The fact it was not yet fig time made it worse for this tree. On this kind of tree the fruit forms before the leaves, and should be full grown before the leaves appear: so this tree, by putting on its foliage before the time for gigs, was proclaiming itself superior to all the other fig trees. This made it a striking symbol of the hypocrite, who, not content with appearing to be as good as other people, usually puts on the appearance of being a great deal better.”
It was barren, and therefore worthless. This was the point Jesus was emphasizing and from which he drew his lesson. Its signs were false, it general appearance was deceptive. It was thus an emblem of the hypocrite, and particularly of the Jewish people, with their high professions, their show of ritual and formal worship, without the fruits of righteousness (Jer. 2:21; Luke 13:6-9). The Jews professed to be worshippers of God – they had all the outside appearance – all the signs, but they were barren of the fruits of righteousness. This was the point Jesus drove home to the Jews. (Gospel Advocate – Mark p. 264).
So, this teaches us a great lesson today. You can act like a Christian and talk the talk, but if you do not walk the walk and actually produce the fruit of righteousness, then you will not be pleasing to God. So, do not be a fake Christian and think you can somehow fool God by your outer appearance because He can see into your heart and can know if you are a real Christian who produces fruit.
This reminds me a lot of the parable that we looked at earlier in this series, which I read:
Luke 13:6 He also spoke this parable: "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 "Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, 'Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?' 8 "But he answered and said to him, 'Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. 9 'And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.' "
Nothing good will come from being unfruitful no matter how pretty your leaves are. Next Jesus clear out the temple area for the second time. This is recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but as I did before, I will blend these together to give you a complete picture.
Matthew 21:12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 And He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves.' "
Mark 11:16 And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple.
We need to realize that there was nothing wrong with someone purchasing an animal for a sacrifice because this was allowable under the law as can be seen in:
Deuteronomy 14:24 "But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the LORD your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the LORD your God has blessed you, 25 "then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the LORD your God chooses. 26 "And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.
Jesus was clearing out the money changers because they were abusing the practice and basically robbing people with their prices for money exchanges and animals. I have drawn this conclusion from Jesus saying that they had made this place into a den of thieves.
Also, there are many O.T. prophecies associated with what Jesus was doing here such as Mal. 3:1-4; Ezekiel 40 – 48; Zechariah 6:12-13. Jesus would not let anyone carry any merchandise through this area of the temple, which was in located in the Gentile court. Some would view this a unloving act, but Jesus had every right to make His point about this being a house of prayer, not a den of thieves.
Next, let’s read the 3 accounts together, even though some of the information overlaps.
Matthew 21:14 Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant 16 and said to Him, "Do You hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes. Have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise'?"
Jesus was working more miracles by healing the blind and the lame, which means they could not walk because something was wrong with their feet or legs. The opposing Jews become very angry about how these children were praising Jesus as being the Son of David. When they complained, Jesus quotes Psalm 8:2, which teaches that young children speak what they know is true. Even young children under the age of 3, would have praised Jesus because He was the Son of David, the Messiah. Mark’s account says:
Mark 11:18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His teaching.
Luke. 19:47 And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him, 48 and were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him.
Jesus knew that His death was near, but this did not stop Him from going to the temple daily right in the midst of these very men who had asked people to let them know if they saw Jesus. Well, here He was, right in plain sight in the temple area, but they did not touch Him because they feared Him because of how much the people were enamored with Him. Oh, how I wish people today were so enamored with Jesus and His Word that they would listen carefully to what the Word of God teaches and that they would obey it.
Finally, we read:
Matthew 21: 17 Then He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and He lodged there.
So, Monday is over, and as we will see, there is a lot recorded about what happens on Tuesday, and it will take several lessons to cover it.