Week 44 Devotion
As we continue reading in the gospels this week we are going to see Jesus moving closer to the end of His ministry and the fulfillment of His mission. Along the way, we have seen Jesus pointing to the fact that one of His trips into Jerusalem would result in His arrest and suffering. Here it is from Matthew 16:21…
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
Once Jesus’ identity became clear when Peter confessed Him to be, “The Christ, the Son of the living God” the next big question was about His mission and His mission was to die in Jerusalem.
This week we are going to read about the final stage of His final journey to that city and we are going to read about His triumphal entry into the city. This is a really strange twist to the story of Jesus’ life because He arrives in the city and the people are praising Him but by the end of the week they are cursing Him. So let’s spend some time week looking at this triumphal entry and try to understand what is going on.
Something to meditate on…
The Triumphal Entry is a monumental event in the life of Jesus, but it is also the hinge upon which all of history turns. Jesus has made His way to the city but more importantly, all of history has been leading up to this moment when the Son of God enters the city where He will rescue fallen humanity from sin. God’s promised King is standing on the doorstep of Jerusalem and for this reason; this scene might be the most anticipated event in the Bible. But it is not without irony.
The irony has to do with the fact that Israel’s perfect King has finally come and by the end of the week they will have Him put to death. Israel had been hoping for God to raise up a King to lead them out of oppression and into freedom and prominence. They had prayed for such a king, longed for such a king and God has indeed sent them that king. But his posture is not what they expected. Jesus hasn’t come as a warrior King firing arrows into enemy lines, instead, He has come as a humble prophet whose words pierce people’s hearts. Israel expected a conquering king and God sent them a suffering servant, a sacrificial savior.
Even now as the disciples complete the final leg of their journey to Jerusalem, the city of Kings, they are not prepared for how this journey will end. Their sights are set on a throne but Jesus is focused on the mercy seat. They expect to soon see Jesus wearing a crown of gold but in just a few short days they will see Him crowned with painful thorns. The disciples are filled with hope on Sunday as Passover week is set to get underway, but by the end of the week, they will be filled with grief and fear.
The week kicks off with a very humble version of what you might expect at the coronation of a Hebrew King. Jesus rides in on a donkey to the songs of His people. He rides in over palm branches and shouts of “Hosanna, to the Son of David” and “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
As a King He shows compassion for His people when he stops to weep over them in Luke 19:41. Then He deals with the corruption in the temple when drives out the money changers and runs off those who used the temple of God as a place to make money. The week gets started on the right foot. Finally, this is a man like the kings of old who can take charge and execute justice but who will also show mercy and compassion.
But this is just the beginning of Jesus’ passion week. The cross is just days away and God's anointed King has come but before He will sit on His throne He will first go to the cross. He comes as the greatest King the world has ever seen, more powerful than any before Him; but He is also humble, gentle riding like a servant because He has come to lay down His life in order to save us from sin and destruction.
Something to discuss…
In John 11 we see what will be the final sign of Jesus ministry and remember there is 7 signs total in John’s gospel and each of them is intended to show the unique power of Jesus over the effects of sin. In this case, we are going to see Jesus overcome the final effect of sin which is death because Jesus is about to raise one of his dead friends from the grave.
This comes at a point in Jesus life when things are really heating up around Him. The more He preaches and makes these “I AM” statements the more attention He gets from guys who want to arrest Him. With every new sign He performs, the leaders of Jerusalem take one step closer to putting their plan in motion to put Him to death. So some might expect Him to try and keep a low profile as He gets nearer to Jerusalem, but that is not Jesus’ plan.
First, of all, He delayed the trip to see Lazarus in the beginning of the chapter and this was by design. He wanted this miracle to take place. So a few days after He heard that Lazarus was sick Jesus begins to make His way to Bethany and He comes to the tomb to find that His friend has been dead for 4 days. Lazarus’ sisters are there and Jesus joins in their grief. Don’t miss the fact that Jesus identifies with us in our pain and loss.
But next, He calls for the stone covering Lazarus’ tomb to be moved and He calls for Lazarus to “Rise and come out.” The people looked on in shock as a man walked out of the tomb still covered in grave clothes. Lazarus was alive. He had been raised from death. This was an amazing day, but it was also a day that set in motion the plan to kill Jesus.
Some of the Jews who had seen what Jesus did, they ran ahead and told the Pharisees and the Chief Priest. They gathered the Jerusalem council together and decided that they could not let Jesus go on like this and so they made plans to put Him to death. The raising of Lazarus was the final straw.
But here are a few questions for you to discuss. Why would these men want to kill a man like Jesus? What was their motivation for wanting Him to put to death? What did they hope to accomplish by their plot against Him?
The raising of Lazarus was an incredible sign of Jesus’ power over death but it was also foreshadowing His own resurrection.
Something to pray about…
In Luke 18 we see Jesus teach a parable about two men and how they prayed when they came into the temple. One prayed with pride in his heart and contempt for others in his mouth. The other man prayed with brokenness in his heart and deep sorrow over sin in his mouth. At the end of the parable, Jesus lets us know that the humble sinner is the one whose sins were forgiven.
As we pray this week, think over Luke 18:9-14 and ask God to give you a heart of humility like that of the Tax Collector. Pray that God would help you know the truth about your sin and that it would produce a God-honoring humility in your life. Start by confessing your sin and your sinfulness. Then ask God to work in your heart and your life and your circumstances.