MONDAY, APRIL 24
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 21
As this chapter opens, we encounter a couple of interesting things. One we call the Triumphal Entry. In this event, Jesus is making His way into Jerusalem but He is actually going to the cross. The other interesting thing is an apparent judgment that Jesus levies. Let’s talk about the Triumphal Entry first.
When this chapter begins, the city of Jerusalem is preparing for the Passover Feast. As a result, the city would have been inundated with Jewish people from all over the nation of Israel. Some believe there could have been as many as 2 million people in and around Jerusalem in preparation for this Passover.
Jesus does an interesting and unusual thing as He prepares to enter Jerusalem. He arranges to ride in on a donkey colt which the Gospel of Mark tells us had never been ridden before.
So, why would Jesus ride a donkey into Jerusalem? Actually there are a couple of different answers. One, in the Old Testament, the donkey was the royal animal of the Jewish monarchy. In other words, the Jewish kings in the Old Testament often rode donkeys. So, Jesus being the “King of the Jews” should rightfully ride on a donkey. The other reason had to do with the fulfillment of a prophecy written by Zechariah. That means Jesus’ chosen mode of transportation was another proof of His identity.
When Jesus rides into Jerusalem the next time, He will not be on a donkey. Instead He will be on a white horse. He will come from the eastern sky and touch down at the Valley of Megiddo north of Jerusalem (think Armageddon). His white horse will be symbolic of purity and ultimate victory.
When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, He made His way to the Temple. There He drove out the money changers and overturned their tables. This is actually the second time Jesus did this. The first time (John 2:13-25) happened early in Jesus’ public ministry. So, what was this about?
The Jewish religious leaders were actually operating a scam. All the Jewish pilgrims that came to Jerusalem for Passover had a couple of things they needed to do. One was pay the Temple tax. The Jewish religious leaders had made the own coinage and required the Temple Tax to be paid with those coins. So, a Jewish pilgrim had to exchange his money for temple money and the exchange rate was most exorbitant.
The other thing a Jewish pilgrim would do during Passover was take an animal to the Temple for a sacrifice to be made. But the Jewish religious leaders had to approve every animal that was to be offered. Oddly enough any animal brought into the Temple to be sacrificed would be found unacceptable. Thankfully (Hear my sarcasm), they had folks there who were selling animals that would meet the approval of the Jewish religious leaders. That way the common people could participate in worship.
Jesus’ response wasn’t about selling things in the Temple or in the church (our context). Jesus’ response was about people who intentionally developed systems and structures that prevented others from worshipping God. That’s why Jesus lashed out at people and turned stuff over.
I don’t know about you but I don’t want Jesus that upset with me. In fact, I don’t want Him upset with me at any level. So, we have to be sure that we are doing everything we can to make sure our church is open to everyone who would come. Let us not be a hindrance to others but a help to all.