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Matthew 21

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

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.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Matthew 20

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

FRIDAY, APRIL 21

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 20

As we pick up the story in verse 17, Jesus is talking about His arrest, mistreatment, crucifixion, and resurrection.  This is the third time in Matthew’s Gospel that He spoke of His arrest and resurrection (Matthew 16:21; 17:22).  But this is the first time He mentioned the crucifixion.  

Because of how familiar His disciples would have been with crucifixion (They would have seen it often.), you might think that Jesus’ mention of being crucified would have stopped them in their tracks.  Surely, they would have been horrified at the prospect of their friend, their rabbi, their Lord being crucified like a criminal.

But instead they got into an argument about who was going to be the most important in the Kingdom to come.  In other words, Jesus just spoke of His ultimate service to and sacrifice for humanity and all His closest friends could do was argue about who was going to be greatest.

As much as I want to bash those disciples, I have to be careful that it doesn’t splash back on me.  I think all of us (especially me), have a tendency not to listen as closely as we should.  Much of the time the reason we don’t listen well is we are too preoccupied with our own lives, wants, wishes, etc.  It is easy not to listen to what is being said to us because we are too focused on formulating what we are going to say.

As the story develops we meet the first helicopter parent or maybe even the first tiger mom.  Mrs. Zebedee was on a mission to reserve the prime seats in the upcoming Kingdom for her two boys.  By the way, her two boys were known as “the sons of thunder” and one time wanted to pray down destruction on a village or two.

To Mrs. Zebedee’s credit, she did want what she thought was best for her children.  Every good mom should want the same thing.  But what we believe is best is not always best.  We tend to see things from a closer perspective that often clouds our view that a longer look might reveal.  

Jesus knew how this would play out.  He actually tried to warn Mrs. Zebedee and her two boys.  But they were locked in on what they thought was what they wanted.

It is interesting to me that Jesus wasn’t upset about this at all.  The other 10 disciples were mad probably because they hadn’t thought to ask for those prime seats for themselves.  But Jesus seemed to take it all in stride.  He does that you know.

There are a couple of important lessons. One, we need to listen closely and allow what we hear to inform what we say.  Two, there is nothing wrong with talking with Jesus about our children.  But it might be helpful to start trusting Him to do what is best.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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