HONOR CHRIST

 

Week of March 26, 2006

 

Bible Passage:  Luke 19: 28-32, 35-44.

 

Biblical Truth:  Christ’s followers will honor Him in every situation they face. 

 

Obey Christ as Lord: 19:28-32.

 

[28] After He had said these things, He was going on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. [29] When He approached Bethphage and Bethany, near the mount that is called Olivet, He sent two of the disciples, [30] saying, “Go into the village ahead of you; there, as you enter, you will find a colt tied on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. [31] If anyone asks you, Why are you untying it? You shall say, The Lord has need of it.” [32] So those who were sent went away and found it just as He had told them.   [NASU]

 

Jesus in the preceding parable taught his disciples how necessary it was for them to persevere faithfully and diligently to the end in His service, and warned the Jewish people of the bitter consequences of refusal to accept Him as the divine King. Thereby He again prepared His followers for what was coming, and He once more called the unbelieving Jews to repentance. The prophet Zechariah had foretold a few centuries earlier that the Messiah-King would enter Jerusalem not as a triumphant military conqueror, but as a lowly Prince of Peace [Zech. 9:9]. And here we see how Jesus, when He came to Jerusalem by finally offering Himself to the Jewish people as the Messiah-King, fulfils this prophecy literally.

 

The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was an event of outstanding significance. Note the following: (1) By means of it Jesus deliberately evokes a demonstration. He fully realizes that, as a result, the enthusiasm of the masses will enrage the hostile leaders at Jerusalem, so that they will desire more than ever to carry out their plot against him. (2) Jesus forces the members of the Sanhedrin to change their timetable, so that it will harmonize with his timetable. The enthusiasm of the crowds with respect to Jesus will hasten the crisis. (3) By means of this triumphal entry Jesus fulfils the Messianic prophecy of Zech. 9:9. When the people hail him as the Son of David, i.e., the Messiah, he does not try to restrain them. (4) However, he also shows the crowds what kind of Messiah he is. Namely, not the earthly Messiah of Israel’s dreams, the One who wages war against an earthly oppressor, but the One who came to promote and establish the things which make for peace, lasting peace: reconciliation between God and man, and between a man and his fellow man. Accordingly, Jesus enters Jerusalem mounted on a colt, an animal associated not with the rigors of war but with the pursuits of peace, for he is the Prince of Peace. But the people in general, their minds filled with earthly ideas concerning the Coming One, do not understand or appreciate this. It is not surprising therefore that Luke pictures a weeping King in the midst of a shouting multitude, nor is it strange that, a little later, when the crowds begin to understand that Jesus is not the kind of Messiah they had expected, they, at the urging of their leaders, are shouting, “Crucify him!”

 

[28-29] Jesus finishes his warning to be ready for his return, and then he turns to Jerusalem. This verse serves as a bridge. He is ready to face his fate in Jerusalem. Jesus directs his followers’ actions as he prepares for his fate. Bethphage and Bethany are located east of Jerusalem on a range of hills overlooking the city and the Kidron Valley. The exact location of Bethphage is not known. Most place it on the southeast side of the Mount of Olives, southeast of Bethany. Bethany is located one and a half miles east of Jerusalem on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. Bethany was important as the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Located east of Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives is in a range that runs north and south for two and a half miles. Olives, the middle of three peaks that dominate the range, stands 2,660 feet above sea level, directly across from the temple. The mountain has eschatological import in the Old Testament. Zechariah 14:4-5 presents it as the place where the Messiah will show himself. Luke writes in Acts 1 that Jesus ascended from this mountain into heaven.

 

[30-31] Jesus instructs two of his disciples to journey into the village and obtain an animal for his use. His confidence about the animal’s availability communicates his control and knowledge. He knows where the colt will be tied up and he also knows that it will be an animal no one has ever ridden. Jesus predicts that someone will see the disciples untie the animal and inquire why. Jesus exhibits total knowledge here: the beast’s location; its tied-up state; its unridden history; and how to procure it.

 

Praise Christ as King: 19:35-40.

 

[35] They brought it to Jesus, and they threw their coats on the colt and put Jesus on it. [36] As He was going, they were spreading their coats on the road. [37] As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, [38] shouting: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” [39] Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” [40] But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”  [NASU]

[35-36] The two disciples bring the animal to Jesus and place their outer garments on it as a saddle. They then place Jesus on the animal. This act recalls the language of Zechariah 9:9, which speaks of the ride of the king who will restore Jerusalem. The other disciples spread their garments on the road.

37] At last the procession reaches the highest part of the road on the Mount of Olives and they at once see their holy city. It lies spread out before them, with the beautiful buildings of the temple standing out majestically on the temple-mount. Spontaneously and irresistibly they now give vent to their excitement and greatest expectations by praising God exultantly for the mighty deeds which He has done through Jesus. Jesus’ ministry has been one continuous demonstration of God’s power: the deaf speak, the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the gospel is preached [Luke 7:22]. It is not only an exciting time to watch God’s work, it is unique. 

[38] With Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem comes another allusion to Psalm 118. This Psalm is one of the Psalms sung during Passover. It is also one of the Psalms most often referred to in the New Testament. It is a distinctly Messianic Psalm, which speaks about the stone which the builders rejected and which became the cornerstone. In the earlier allusion to this Psalm in Luke 13:35, Jesus lamented Jerusalem’s failure to respond to him. Here the disciples, in contrast to the nation, confess Jesus as God’s messenger. It is not correct to see 19:38 as the fulfillment of 13:35, because (a) it is the disciples, not the nation, who utter the note of reception and (b) Jesus’ remark about missing the day of visitation [19:44] shows that some still reject him. Luke 13:35 has a still future day of Israel’s reception in view. The cry from Psalm 118:26 is full of hope because the king is here. The key difference between the citations of Psalm 118 here and in Luke 13:35 is the addition of the king. Luke has previously alluded to Jesus’ Davidic connection [1:32; 18:38-39], but here he explicitly calls Jesus king. Following this eschatological blessing is a concluding note of peace and glory, much like that at Jesus’ birth. Salvation comes, and so peace and joy can be proclaimed. In this king, God is reconciling himself to humanity and reasserting his rule. The king is entering the city to the people’s cries of joy, cries that within a week will become wails of pain and disappointment. The parallels [Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9; John 12:13] all use the line from Psalm 118 about the blessedness of the one who comes in the name of the Lord, but each writer gives it his own twist. Matthew speaks of crowds giving praise to the son of David, cites the psalm, and then notes the cries of hosanna in the highest (hosanna, a cry to God “to save us,” was often a statement of confidence). Mark speaks of those going before and behind crying hosanna, cites the psalm, notes another blessing for the “coming kingdom of our father David,” and closes with cries of hosanna in the highest. John mentions the hosanna, cites the psalm, and adds the note of blessing on “the king of Israel.” Luke lacks reference to hosanna, because his Gentile readers might not have understood what it meant, and articulates instead the praise in terms of peace and glory. Luke also avoids kingdom terminology here because it might be misunderstood. The king, praise, and the Davidic hope of fulfillment dominate all four accounts. As Jesus enters the city he presents himself as the king who brings the nation’s eschatological hope. A week later he will be taken outside the city, for in the eyes of the nation he is a messianic imposter who must be stopped. The nation will say no – just as Jesus predicted. A donkey now bears him as king; soon he will bear his own cross.

[39] The sentiment of praise floating through the crowd is not unanimous. The Pharisees are exceedingly annoyed at the Messianic reverence shown to the Nazarene against whom most of them have long ago taken sides. Recognizing that they cannot silence the crowd, the Pharisees call upon Jesus to silence them. The imperative, rebuke, suggests that the Pharisees are offended or worried by the disciples’ messianic confession of Jesus and so seek to correct the situation as quickly as possible. They regard the praise as inappropriate.

[40] Jesus replies to the Pharisees with deep irony. Creation is aware of Jesus, but the leadership of Israel is not. That which is lifeless knows life when it sees it, even though that which is living does not. Luke portrays their rejection as a tragic, stinging indictment of their lack of judgment. 

 

Share Christ’s Concern: 19:41-44.

 

[41] When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, [42] saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. [43] “For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, [44] and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”  [NASU]

[41]  Once again Luke notes that Jesus drew near to Jerusalem [Luke 19:29, 37]. The drama of the slow approach signals the importance of the coming events. From the descent of the Mount of Olives there is a magnificent view of Jerusalem in which the whole city lies full displayed to the sight. As Jesus came to that turn in the road He stopped and wept over Jerusalem. These are the tears of one who knows that the people have already turned their backs on God’s messenger. Much like a parent watching a child make a foolish decision, Jesus mourns a city sealing its fate.

[42] Jesus mourns because Jerusalem has missed the nature of the times, which held the potential for a restoration of peace. This lamentation is like Jeremiah’s in Jeremiah 9:2 and shows the combination of pain, anger, and frustration that rejection causes in one who serves God. Peace was hidden from the city’s eyes. In contrast to peace, destruction comes, as the next two verses will make clear. The cost of sin is great. Judgment will result in death and darkness. But now indicates that the day of grace is past. Judicial blindness has set in, the penalty of a long course of rejecting God’s messengers [see Jesus’ parable of the wicked vine growers in Luke 20:9-18]. Like the prophets of old, Jesus finds no joy in rebuking sin and declaring its dire consequences.

[43] Jesus predicts that Jerusalem will become the object of a fierce siege in the “days that are coming,” a phrase used by the Old Testament prophets to indicate coming events of great significance. This is the payment for Jerusalem’s rejection. Just as the nation went into exile for disobedience, so Jesus predicts judgment for this generation. God’s past activity and the consistency of his actions in bringing covenant justice are the presuppositions behind such a prophecy. What was a visitation for salvation has become a visitation of judgment. Jesus uses siege terminology to picture the city’s destruction. The event in view is clearly the attack of Rome that led to the collapse of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

[44] Jesus follows the three descriptions of 19:43 with two more portrayals of the nation’s fall. The description of one stone not being on another pictures the city being leveled. The defeat is total. Nothing stands. Rome’s army will leave the city for dead. Finally, Jesus gives the reason for the tragic destruction: the nation missed the opportunity to respond to the eschatological moment, that is, to his visitation. Both 19:42 and this verse note that the nation did not know the time of Messiah’s eschatological coming. Visitation is often positive with relation to the coming of God’s grace and power, but can also be negative of judgment. Jesus knows what the nation has decided about him, but the loss is Israel’s, which will experience judgment while Jesus will be exalted and vindicated by God. The division predicted for the nation has come. It is a fearful thing to be responsible before God for the rejection of Jesus.

SUMMARY: In Luke 19:28-44, Jesus approaches Jerusalem publicly and in control of events. He tells the disciples how to procure an animal for him. He enters the city to the eschatological cheers of his followers, who praise God’s power manifested through him and who confess that Jesus comes as king in the name of the Lord. Their action pictures fulfillment of the national desire for salvation, usually expressed at the Feast of Tabernacles. It is a glorious entry, but it is all a charade because of what is about to happen. Those who orchestrate this reversal stand on the sidelines and complain to Jesus about the messianic praise he receives. The rejection is of catastrophic importance, and it causes Jesus to weep over the fate of the city he loves. Here is Luke’s ultimate apologetic to those Jews who question the role that the church gives to Jesus. Those who bring Rome to bear on Jerusalem are those who charge Jesus with being a threat to the nation. Jesus is not the enemy, but because of his rejection the enemy can come. The reader is to realize that history was never the same because of the nation’s tragic failure to accept its day of visitation. In fact, the rejection was fatal for those who shared in it. It costs to reject Jesus. With this passage, Luke concludes his central section, which is highlighted by two themes. The first is the portrait of Jesus as the confronting prophet like Moses, who is greater than Moses. The perspective and influence of Deuteronomy controls the section as Jesus the prophet calls the people to repent lest they face destruction by God’s judgment. The second theme comes as a result of mediating God’s will. Jesus describes for the people of God the way of discipleship in the face of opposition. He leads a new exodus into God’s presence and promises a seat at God’s banquet table. Repentance is the result of a life of humility lived out before God. Forgiveness comes to the humble who draw near to God and experience his grace on his terms. Faithfulness grounded in humility is the essence of the spiritual life. To come to Jesus is to receive with humility what he provides and to know and walk with God. In short, one is to walk in Jesus’ way of love, generosity, rejection, and suffering. The journey completed, Jesus now turns to meet his fate in Jerusalem; the loser is not Jesus, but those who reject him.

 

Questions for Discussion:

 

1.     Read Zechariah 9:9-13. What was Jesus proclaiming about Himself by the way He entered Jerusalem? Why did the people misunderstand? What is the significance of Jesus saying: But now they have been hidden from your eyes?

 

2.     Meditate on the character Jesus reveals in these verses and on the destiny of the people who rejected their King. What can we learn from Jesus about how we should react to those who reject the Gospel?

 

References:

Luke, Darrell L. Bock, Baker.

Gospel of Luke, Norval Geldenhuys, Eerdmans.

Gospel According to Luke, William Hendriksen, Baker.

Luke, Walter L. Liefeld, EPC, Zondervan.