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Weekly Word

Entries in Bondage (2)

Tuesday
Apr152014

The Triumphal Entry

Today we are going to pause in our study of the Gospel of Luke and look at what is called the Triumphal Entry of Jesus in Luke 19:28-44.  It is called the Triumphal Entry because Jesus is celebrated and declared to be the Messiah as He comes to Jerusalem in the week before He is killed.  In some ways it is oddly named because in 3-4 days the crowds will be crying out, “Crucify him!”  I guess it all comes down to what you call a “triumph.”  This day is not a triumph from the perspective of Jesus and heaven.  It is actually a tragic failure because the people are only fair weather friends who will largely reject Him when He embraces going to the cross.  This is not the kind of savior they were seeking.  Thus from heaven’s perspective the Triumphal entry would be either His resurrection day or we could fast-forward to the Second Coming in Revelation 19 and point to it as His true triumphal entry.  Let’s look at the story.

Jesus Heads For Jerusalem

Jesus often went to Jerusalem, but this time is unique.  Jesus heads to Jerusalem for the last time in order to offer himself up as the Lamb of God for the sins of Israel and for the whole world.  Up till now it was not His time.  But now it is.  Up till now He could not be touched by the authorities, but now they will succeed in taking Him and killing Him.  This passage says that Jesus “went on ahead” up to Jerusalem.  This is intended to mean that Jesus led His disciples, not that He left them.  Rather, He is not hiding among the herd of disciples to protect himself.  Instead, He is out front leading the way. It was He that would bear the blow in the days ahead not them.  He is the one who is our shield and strength.  If He lets anything touch us, it is because it cannot truly hurt us; that is if we keep our eyes upon Him.

Loosing Of The Colt

When they reach two small villages on the east side of the Mount of Olives, Jesus gives His disciples some instructions.  He wants a young donkey who has never been ridden to be His transportation to rest of the way.  This is not because He is tired.  Jesus is doing these things on purpose in order to teach us.  Let’s look deeper.

Many skeptics have read these verses and accused Jesus of trying to steal the donkey.  Is this theft or something else?  Why doesn’t Jesus just ask for the donkey first?  What you have to understand is that Jesus is acting out a prophecy in order to teach Israel something about His Messiahship.  Thus this is not theft, but symbolism.  In fact Jesus knew they would be asked why they were taking the colt.  He is going to act out a prophecy that would not only speak to all the people of Jerusalem, but would also declare truth to the rebellious, spiritual forces that were holding mankind captive.

In Zechariah 9:9 there is a specific prophecy that tells Israel that her King (the Messiah) would come to her having justice and salvation, humbly riding on a donkey.  In this sense Jesus was purposefully fulfilling this prophecy.  Now some accuse Jesus of doing this with all of the prophecies in the Old Testament.  However, many of the prophecies had to do with His birth and lineage.  Thus most of the prophecies about Jesus were not ones He could plot to fulfill.  So this accusation is unfounded.  By purposefully fulfilling this prophecy, Jesus was, without a doubt, declaring His kingship over Israel.  He was ready to go public.  Yet, this prophecy emphasizes that the mode of operation (MO) of the Messiah would be justice, salvation, and a humble king riding on a humble beast.  This can be contrasted with the 2nd Coming of Christ in Revelation 19, where He comes back gloriously and riding on a white horse, with the armies of heaven at His back.

The symbolism in this section is critical.  The donkey represents not the strong leaders and kings of Israel.  But the simple people of Israel.  Jesus had come to set free the people who had been tied up (brought into bondage) by the leaders of Israel.  Thus Jesus does not need to ask permission to untie the people because they are His by right.  Notice however the objection.  The religious leaders objected to the person, teaching, and ministry of Jesus.  They did not want the people free.  They enjoyed the privileged place they had and the benefits they received from having the people in bondage.  Also, the dark forces of the spirit world also objected to any freeing of people.

The answer that is given is that “the Lord has need of him.”  Why did God come down to save simple people out from under the great elite of this world?  Why did God, over the top of natural and spiritual objections, set free the lowly of this world from the powerful?  It is because He has need of us….of you.  The next time you are tempted to put yourself down as nothing, remember that He has need of you.  God doesn’t need the pomp, pride, and power of man.  What He needs is man to humble himself.  Here is the King of Israel, but He offers himself in humility.  If I am to be your king it is going to be a humble administration.  Rejoice today that the Lord has need of you.  He wants your companionship.  He wants your love.  He wants your willing heart.  He wants you!  What a precious thing that we should remind ourselves during times of doubt.

Lastly notice that Jesus is carried by the colt.  In the New Testament we are told that clothing often symbolizes righteous works.  The disciples cover the colt with their outer garments as a picture of how Jesus would use them to teach the humble believers how to take the righteousness of Christ upon themselves, so that they could then become “bearers” of Jesus wherever they go.  Now Christ is the one directing the colt.  Thus we are to live clothed in the righteousness of Jesus (versus our own ideas of righteousness) directed by our Lord.  So Jesus “rides” upon us to the work that He wants to do through us and with us, as we submit to the teachings of Jesus and His apostles.

The Celebration of Jesus

Now it is the Passover week, which would have lots of travelers on the road to Jerusalem. So as Jesus and His disciples crest the Mount of Olives they begin to head down into the valley between it and the Temple Mount.  It is then that the people begin to notice that Jesus is coming into Jerusalem on a donkey.  They break out into celebration because many had come to believe that He must be the messiah.  They get the message that He is sending.  The King is coming!

They then throw their outer garments onto the road for Christ to ride over.  This honoring of Jesus is simultaneously a humbling of yourself (and your own righteousness).  They are rolling out the red carpet for Christ.  If you are going to receive Jesus as your king, then you are going to have to lay down your righteousness and seek to be clothed with His righteousness alone. 

They people also use the words of Psalm 118 as their celebratory cry, “Save us!  Save us!  Blessed is the One who comes in the Name of the Lord!”  It would be worth your while to meditate on that Psalm this week.  It was understood to be speaking of the Messiah.  By the way, you may notice that in Psalm 118, the next thing after this cry for salvation are these words:  “Bind the sacrifice to the altar with cords.”  What cords bound Jesus to the cross?  Was it not the ties of His love for us, for you?

The Rebuke

Now all of this is being seen by Satan’s spiritual powers and the leaders of Israel who had come under their influence.  They do not like what they are seeing.  Thus the Pharisees and lawyers begin to object to Jesus.  Remember that this is the very thing that the symbolism of the objection to untying the colt was pointing to.  Jesus has come to untie the people from their sins and the wicked do not like it.  Why?  They do so because they want to keep the people in bondage.  They have worked too hard to have it all lost.  Know this, that the elite men and the spiritual forces of this world have a vested interest in keeping mankind bound in sin and under their authority.  But, Christ has set us free from all that.  Thus we live in an age of great deception.  Many Christians are being deceived to the truth of Christ that would really set them free and give them different leaders.  Thus Jesus is told to rebuke His disciples and keep them from proclaiming Him as Messiah.

Jesus points out that if they didn’t cry out then the rocks would.  Know this:  God will be praised.  The question is will you be a part of it?  The rocks will praise me.  This is a common theme throughout the prophets.  In Isaiah 55 we see the trees clapping their hands and the mountains will break forth before Him.  This reveals that the natural world will glorify God by doing what it was made to do.  But man is different.  Man has an ability to choose something other than what he was made for.

Jesus Weeps

Like He wept over the death of Lazarus, so Jesus weeps over Jerusalem as He looks out over it and its people.  Jesus weeps because He knows what is coming, what didn’t have to be.  He was there and could stop it, if they would allow.  But sadly they would not.  Yes today they rejoice, but shortly they will change their mind when He chooses a path that is contrary to what their flesh and heart desire.

Jesus says that only if they knew where their peace comes from.  Even today Israel and most of the world do not know where their peace comes from.  Only God can give us peace.  No amount of ambassadors, great sounding words, powerful militaries, and amazing leaders can give us peace.  No amount of cool movies, seductive actors, amusements, or wealth can give us peace.  Everything we plunge after only takes us further away from what would give us peace—Jesus.  The world as a whole rejects the offer of peace from God because it thinks it can create its own peace.  This is why God weeps.  He knows that this is a pipe dream that leads to the slavery of mankind and ends up in the destruction of mankind.

Jesus says that the significance and understanding of these things would be hidden from the eyes of Israel. The apostle Paul picks this theme up in Romans 11:25.  He states that this blindness of Israel to the messiah would not last forever.  Also in 2 Corinthians 3, he states that the blindness of Israel was like a veil over the eyes.  Yet, the good news is that though God may blind us because of our unbelief and wickedness, He will have mercy.  He will bring us back around again to see once again what we refused to believe before.

Lastly Jesus refers to this as the time of Israel’s visitation.  Israel was in bondage to the “Beast” kingdom of Rome.  They had cried out for deliverance for years.  Now, in Jesus, God was visiting them, in order to deliver them.  Their cry had not failed to reach God.  Though God has a different time schedule than us, He does hear our cries.  He is hurting over our injustices, and wounding of each other.  He weeps over the bondage that we continue under and longs to come and offer Himself to us.  In Jesus that day has come.  For the last 2,000 years God has been carried around by lowly Christians who offer to them the peace of Christ.  But there is a day of visitation coming; a day when it will be critical that we have eyes to see the truth.  The antichrist will come forth offering a false peace that leads to destruction, but the true Christ will come forth offering a true peace that leads to life.  Choose Jesus today!

The Triumphal Entry mp3

Tuesday
Oct082013

The True Jesus: His Mission

Last week, in the temptations of Jesus, we saw the defensive side of what it takes to be led by the Spirit, or walk with God.  The believer must resist and stand strong against temptations.  Today we will look at the offensive side, which focuses on what we need to do with all our heart, mind, and strength.  Let’s go to Luke chapter 4 verse 14.

He Was Led To Teach

Most of the time that Jesus taught was in northern Israel around the Sea of Galilee.  This was due to the fact that it was far enough away from the religious leaders in Jerusalem to furnish a relative amount of freedom.

One thing that sticks out in verse 14 is that Jesus came forth from the time of temptation in the “power of the Spirit.”  This is clearly an additional comment that brings up the connection between temptation and spiritual power.  To resist temptation is to embrace the power of listening to the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit does not become any more powerful, but our yielding to Him allows the power of His guidance to flow through us.  God wants us to be filled with the Spirit and to resist temptation so that we may be empowered by the Spirit.  Whether we do miracles as Jesus did is immaterial.  God gives His gifts in varying amounts and disperses them throughout the body.  So that, no one person has all His gifts.  However, we can all be a powerful witness of Jesus.

Jesus did teach and, though Luke doesn’t mention it at first, verse 23 shows that he was doing miracles as well.  Luke focuses more on the fact that Jesus was initially received by everyone except those in His hometown of Nazareth.  I will come back to this issue later, but recognize that even when God is operating for good, we can be envious of what He has done for others.

Now before we get into the nitty gritty of the rejection in this passage, we should recognize that Nazareth’s rejection of Jesus is only a small picture of the Jesus being rejected by Israel as a nation.  Thus, at the beginning of His ministry we see his hometown rejecting Him and thus all the other cities in the area being blessed by Him.  Similarly as Jesus is rejected by Israel as a nation, the gospel of Jesus goes out to the nations of the world and they are blessed instead.  This pattern follows Jesus to this day.  Do not be enamored when crowds and multitudes crowd to hear about and follow Jesus.  For in time as they are challenged by the Truth of Jesus many will fall away.  If the Truth of Jesus is taught it will eventually be resisted by the majority.

He Reveals His True Mission

When Jesus comes to Nazareth, the stories of what he has been doing have preceded Him.  Thus when he arrives he is given a seat of honor and asked to read the Scriptures at the Synagogue.  Jesus turns to a specific passage, Isaiah 61, and reads several verses.  Then He sits down and says, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  I’m sure that went over like a ton of bricks, but let’s analyze this. 

Isaiah 61 is a prophecy that seems to be saying that God has anointed Isaiah to give Israel good news.  The good news is that God is going to help them rebuild the ruins of Israel.  Also, there is a promise that God will demonstrate His righteousness among the nations and Israel will be exalted.  As in any prophecy, the question is who, when, where….etc.  Jesus is saying that this passage was about what He was doing that very day.  He is saying that He is that anointed one who will help Israel rebuild the ruins and exalt the righteousness of God among the Gentiles.

Now notice what the anointing or power of the Holy Spirit is for in this passage.  Israel had become so spiritually damaged by sin that they were impoverished, brokenhearted, captive, blind, and oppressed.  Jesus had come to deliver them from these things.  We must recognize in this beautiful passage the ugliness of what sin does to a people.  In fact the teaching in our own country that people are basically good is an extremely evil one.  It tells us that we should basically follow our “good” inner inklings, which in the end lead us to a place of spiritual poverty. 

Jesus had come to give good news to the poor.  Now those who are materially poor are definitely in a position to be open to the gospel.  The rich don’t need God and aren’t interested.  But a poor person knows full well that they have great need.  Yet, being materially poor is no guarantee that a person will truly hear and take to heart the “Good News” that Jesus is giving us.  The gospel can only be received by those who are poor in spirit.  They have tried clamoring after the things of the world and found them to be elusive.  Some are opened by this to Jesus, but some refuse to be softened and broken in these times and only become harder.  Sometimes our problem is not that we are materially poor, but that we are not “poor” enough.  When we drop our pride, bitterness, anger, and the hunger for wealth, our spirit is able to receive the good news of the gospel.  If you are lacking in wealth and material possessions today, then go all the way and become poor in spirit.  God has great news for you in the person of Jesus.

Jesus came to heal broken hearts.  Now we use the picture of a broken heart to refer to being wounded by those we love.  Our hearts are not just wounded, however.  They also become dysfunctional.  We refuse to embrace some things that are good and desire other things that are bad.  Instead of a heart that is singularly fixed on God, ours becomes shattered into a thousand competing lusts and we are left without peace.  The greatest healing of all is to have our dysfunctional hearts touched by the Truth of Jesus.

Jesus also came to free the captives.  Though Israel was technically in their own land, they were under the tyranny of Rome.  However, Jesus didn’t come to free them from Rome.  Thus He did not see Rome as their captor or oppressor.  Their true captor and oppressor was the devil.  Through their sins he had bound them in bondage and kept their hearts captive to lusts.  They were unable to break free from the hold of sins on their heart and the penalty of their sins.

Jesus came to give sight to the blind.  They have not only become blind to their sin, but also to the Truth of God’s Word.  They were unable to receive the insights and comfort that God had given them through the prophets who had come before.  They couldn’t even see that they had become poor, captive and blind.  This is similar to the words of Jesus to the Church of Laodicea in Revelation 3, “You say, ‘I am rich, and have need of nothing.’  You do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”  How we need to stop finding hope in everything but God’s Word.  If you are saying, “But I’ve tried God’s Word and it doesn’t help,” beware.  This is only proof that you have become blind to what it is truly saying.

If you compare what Jesus read in Luke to the Isaiah 61 passage you will see that he stops in mid-sentence.  Jesus had come to proclaim the year of God’s favor, but not the day of vengeance of our God.  That would come later.  In fact the “Day of the Lord” for this whole world looms on the horizon.  Recognize that when Jesus comes back he will finish this sentence.  But for them it was to be a time of God’s grace.  Jesus had come to offer sinners a way to freedom.

Rejected By His Own

Now in verses 23 through 30 we have the details of the rejection of Jesus.  Now it is the lot of Jesus to be quickly received only to be later rejected.  In one church service Jesus goes from the honored seat sharing the Holy Scriptures the whole lot of them trying to kill him.  We must guard against this tendency of our flesh in our own hearts.

Jesus was rejected because he laid bare what was in their hearts.  Jesus is not content to just be welcomed into your life.  His job and mission is to show you the true condition of your heart and soul.  Now, none of us are perfect and we get pretty testy when we think another impure person is trying to point out our sins, much less the hidden things deep in our hearts.  But in Jesus we have one who has never sinned and knows those hidden things.  This extreme vulnerability is a very scary place to be found.  However, at the cross God proved His heart towards you.  You can trust Him.  If he exposes your heart, it is not in order to hurt you or take advantage of you.  But, rather, it is so that he can heal you.

There is no one for Jesus to pat on the back in this picture.  All of them, all of us, need saving from sin.  Now the hearts of the people of Nazareth thought that they deserved some miracles.  Do here what you are doing in other places.  Jesus gives them the examples of Elijah and Elisha.  Both of these prophets did powerful miracles.  However, in two cases they did so not for Israelites, but for gentiles.  Why?  Jesus begins to poke and prod.  It was because of unbelief in Israel.  Thus Jesus did not do many miracles in Nazareth over the course of His 3 ½ year ministry because of the unbelief in the heart of the people there.  “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”  They said to themselves.  This hardness walled them off from the miracles of Jesus, but it couldn’t wall them off from His grace.  Jesus comes and speaks the truth in love to His hometown.  If they could only hear and see and believe. 

This crowd did not need miracles.  They needed faith in Jesus.  They become so made that they want to kill him that day.  They crowd around him and lead him out to a cliff to throw him off of it.  Now, in light of the temptations, Jesus could have jumped off to prove that he is the messiah.  But instead Luke says that he turned and walked right through the middle of them.  They are paralyzed by the Spirit of God and impotent before the Son of God.  This was their miracle.  The miracle of watching God do what He will over the top of all the power and pomp of mankind.

May God give us all the ability to humble ourselves before Him and receive the grace of His Son Jesus.

MIssion of Jesus Audio