About the author: Ed has been a member at ZPC for 31 years. He has served three terms as a ZPC Elder and has been on the Finance Team, the Mission Commission. He has also taught a men’s Sunday school class and been a part of the Great Banquet. He and his wife Julie have been married 4 years, marrying after each of their spouses passed away. They have a total of 7 grown children, Ed’s 3 daughters (who grew up at ZPC) and Julie’s 2 sons and 2 daughters. Both Ed and Julie are enjoying retirement.
About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals for Holy Week. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpcdevo to 39970. We welcome your comments and questions each day.
Today’s Scripture: Luke 19:28-40
In today’s reading, Jesus enters into Jerusalem on a donkey at the end of his earthly ministry to announce that he was the Messiah.
A little color commentary about the political climate at the time: Jesus was despised by the chief priests and the Pharisees, the Jewish ruling class, as he threatened their way of life and the power they held. They wanted to arrest him and were plotting to kill him (John 11:53,57). Entering Jerusalem was therefore very dangerous for Jesus. Secondly, the Jewish people were looking for a Messiah who would overthrow the oppressive Roman rulers, as their kings of the past would have done. This would have resulted in the Romans lashing out at the nation and ending the political power the rulers had.
Jesus’ mission, however, was different. He had come to Earth to reconcile us back to God–this required a perfect lamb sacrifice according to Jewish law. Jesus knew he would die on a cross and be that perfect spotless sacrifice for your sin and mine. The people had rejected Jesus and refused to accept his miracles and the prophets' words about him. He wept over the city, hurting for its people (us). He wanted to dramatically demonstrate who he was. His timing was perfect–it was the Sunday before Passover, when Jews from all over the world came to Jerusalem to celebrate God’s freeing the Israelites from Egyptian slavery; the city would be full. It was lamb selection Sunday, the day families would select a lamb to sacrifice the following Friday. Rather than to sneak into Jerusalem unseen for the Passover, he chose to enter into Jerusalem in a way that would be an unmistakeable claim to be the Messiah (Zechariah 9:9) and have all focus be centered on him. It was an act of supreme courage. His strategy was perfect–he chose to ride into the city on a donkey. Now, we think of the donkey as a lowly beast of burden, but it was actually a noble animal of kings at the time. It was an animal of peace; horses were only used in war. Jesus was revealing that he was a king of peace and love, not the conquering hero the people expected and wanted. It is thought by scholars that he likely came into Jerusalem through the Shepherd Gate, not the Kings Gate, further symbolizing he was the Lamb of God. He confronted the people with love, asking them to accept him as their Shepherd King.
Initially, the people did embrace Jesus with political chants of “Hosanna, save us!” waving palm branches, a symbol of revolt and freedom. However, their support of him died and they turned against him when they realized he would not be the conquering Messiah they had wanted. They had the wrong idea about Jesus. They wanted to mold Jesus into the King that would serve their needs in the way they wanted, to have life the way they wanted. They did not recognize or acknowledge him as the King he proclaimed himself to be. Their own desires drowned out Jesus’ message to them. They did not listen to or understand Jesus.
I think we sometimes do the same. We can get so wrapped up in our own world with our own desires, thinking we know the right solution, that we fail to listen to what God is telling us. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes have to check myself asking: “Am I trying to mold Jesus into a King to serve my wants, or I am I allowing Jesus to mold me to serve him?” or “Am I listening to what God is telling me?”
Jesus did not come to change our external situations, as the people had wanted. Instead, he came to change our hearts, working from the inside out. Are we asking him to change our hearts (and meaning it), or just our external environment?
His timing is perfect. His strategies are perfect. His solution for him to be our Shepherd King is perfect.
O Lord, thank you that your timing and strategies are perfect. Thank you for Jesus’ courage to carry out the mission you gave Him, so that He might restore my relationship with you. Thank you Jesus for your tears and sacrificial love for me that took you to the cross for my salvation. Thank you for pursuing me and meeting me where I am. Lord, as you transform my heart, it is difficult for me to grasp that it can sometimes only come through suffering; please help my understanding. I confess that my own wants too often drown out your voice and the whispering of the Holy Spirit. Please give me ears to listen to what you are saying and a willing spirit to obey. Change my heart and mind so I would be a faithful servant and disciple, building your kingdom for your glory.