Sunday, March 29, 2015

Missing the Point

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!  Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. -- Zech 9:9

 (Source for the following: Matthew 21, Luke 19, John 2 and 12; all quotations from the NIV 84)

Six days before Passover, Jesus paid a visit to Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and Simon (the Leper, or possibly the Former Leper) threw a big banquet for Him.  Lazarus, being the man who was raised from the dead after 4 days in the grave, was almost as great a marvel as Jesus.  People came and hung out, hoping for a glimpse of either of them and possibly even a miracle of their own.  The next day, Jesus sent disciples into town for a donkey's colt, which they brought to Him and he sat down on it, riding the young donkey towards Jerusalem.

Somewhere in the crowd, a scholar must've remembered the passage in Zachariah, and told his neighbor...who told his neighbor, who told his a Facebook rumor gone viral, the crowd was reminded of the scripture and saw the fulfillment of it before their very eyes.  The King!

It's interesting to note that John records His disciples didn't understand what was going on until after Jesus was glorified.  They were as caught up in the festive atmosphere as the crowd around them.

Only the masses took it to mean a literal king, who would sit on the throne in Jerusalem in their day.  So, they threw their cloaks on the ground for Him to ride on and, just before Jesus crested the Mount of Olives  they began to shout and praise Him.  Some of the Pharisees who were tagging along to watch what might develop tried to get Jesus to make them be quiet.  But Jesus refused, stating that if the people were silent the rocks would cry out...nature itself would declare the praise of the One who was heading for His destiny and the redemption of all things.

The Pharisees were probably still trying to make sense out of 'stones would cry out' when the procession topped the hill and saw Jerusalem spread out before them...and Jesus stopped the parade, and suddenly began to weep.  But this was not a lip quiver with tears quietly sliding down his cheeks...this was agonized sobs of true grief.  He knew what was coming, He knew all the folks around him expected Him to go into Jerusalem and blow the horns and rally the tribes to supernaturally throw off the Roman oppression and restore the kingdom.  Instead, He lamented their blindness and prophesied the destruction that would take place some 40ish years later.
I think the momentum of the crowd jostled the donkey into moving again;  Jesus may have still been grieving as they started down the hill.  But He did pull that emotion into reign, and as they approached the city more and more people joined the parade, and they made a ruckus that stirred up the whole city and provoked the Pharisees to exclaim in disgust, 'This is getting us nowhere.  Look how the whole world has gone after him!' (John 12:19)

When He arrived at the temple, Jesus dismounted and, for the second time, went to the area where moneychangers converted the Roman coins into Jewish tender acceptable as offering and  livestock vendors sold animals that had been approved as sacrifices to people who either did not bring their own or whose animals had been found defective in some way...people were making money off of honest folks who wanted to worship God.  As He overturned tables, released the livestock and pushed the vendors out of the area, He declared 'You are making my house a robber's den!'...stronger words than He had used when he ran them out at the start of His ministry, 'How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!'

Then, He turned His attention to the crowd and began to heal.  Lame and blind people were made whole and seeing.  Kids were so caught up in the excitement that they were shouting praise in the very courts of the temple; Jesus was asked by the folks in charge there to please make them settle down, and again He refused, this time quoting Ps. 8:2.

And, at the end of the day, He returned to Bethany.  He hadn't blown any trumpets or summoned any freedom fighters...but He had fulfilled prophecies, healed people, and ticked off the religious leaders once more.

Passover...the day of sacrifice...was 4 days away.

How have I determined, like the crowd that day, what Jesus is going to do to break me free of my oppressors?  What will I do if His plan is something else entirely....something that looks to be the complete opposite of what I expected?  Will children...or rocks...give Him the praise I should be offering but am not, because I am too focused on my expectations to see what He is really doing?