Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
The Unwelcome Welcome
As we come to the end of Luke Chapter 19 we come to the conclusion of a major section of Luke’s gospel. The final verses are the transition point from Chapter 9 when He “determined” to go to Jerusalem, and here—where He actually enters the city and Passion Week begins. There are really four elements contained in Luke’s account of the Triumphal Entry, where Jesus the Messiah comes to His capitol city Jerusalem:
- His arrival to the hailing masses
- His response of grief upon seeing His city
- His action in anger upon witnessing those who’d put up barriers to a relationship with Yahweh
- His sparking a plot that would lead to His own demise—but in His way, and in His timing.
28 – 40
The Triumphal Entry of Jesus to Jerusalem is a pivotal moment in God’s rescue mission for mankind. Many believe that it was foretold by Daniel the Prophet:
Daniel 9:25 (HCSB) Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince will be seven weeks and 62 weeks. It will be rebuilt with a plaza and a moat, but in difficult times. 26 After those 62 weeks the Messiah will be cut off and will have nothing.
This decree went out by the Babylonian king Artaxerxes in 444 B.C. The “weeks” of Daniel’s prophecy should be understood of weeks of years. Although there is a lot of controversy about this – some argue that if you adjust for the calendars, 173,880 days from that decree brings you to 10 Nisan, AD32 – which was this exact day. So “Messiah the Prince” would arrive on the scene at Jerusalem on precisely this day and no other.
I doubt seriously if anyone there that day had actually done the math, but clearly Jesus knew this was the day for the Messiah to declare Himself. But He does it in a strange way. Instead of riding in on a high horse with a show of force, the King of Kings asks His men to borrow the foal of a donkey. This was an accepted practice, by the way. Those in authority and even rabbis could temporarily borrow personal property. What we’re not sure of is if Jesus arranged this ahead of time, but His men do as they are told and when asked, answer as Jesus told them to and they are allowed to bring Jesus the colt.
I think the real miracle here is that the donkey allowed Jesus to ride. Matthew tells us that its mom came along too so that probably helped. This fulfilled Zechariah 9:9 “Daughter Jerusalem … your King is coming to you … humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
The disciples begin throwing their garments on the road for the red carpet treatment, in line with how the men of Israel treated Jehu when he became king in 2 Kings 9:13.
At the top of the hill of the Mount of Olives, the praise begins. It’s interesting that it is the disciples who start it, and the crowds join in. The crowds are fickle, and in just days they will follow another set of leaders in denouncing Jesus. But whether genuine or not, their words are fitting here.
The group starts chanting Psalm 118, which is a Messianic Psalm. They add the word “king” to the refrain, declaring that Jesus is both Messiah, and the King they are hoping will rescue them from Roman domination.
As the Pharisees listen to this they also get the strong hint and again are very worried about a hostile takeover of their power. They rebuke Jesus but the Lord responds that praise must take place today, if not from the mouths of the people, then from a miracle.
41 – 44
As Jesus crests the Mount of Olives He sees Jerusalem laid out across the Kidron Valley. Instead of feeling the joy of the crowds around Him, He is grieved and moved to tears. On a side note, did you know that God feels emotion? In fact, He feels things more than you do. The difference is that He is not a victim of His emotions as we often are. It’s okay to ask God to give you His emotional response to situations.
Here, the emotion is grief that leads Jesus to tears. Why? Because He knows the joyous cries will turn into angry shouts soon enough; that the seeming acceptance here will turn to rejection in just days. And He knows that that rejection will result not only in the death of the Messiah, but the destruction of the city God calls home on earth.
This of course took place in 70AD when the Roman Legions overran Jerusalem, laid seize to it, and ultimately destroyed it. But notice something else: Jesus says what they missed was the purpose of the Messiah’s visit. Instead of war, Jesus came to bring peace—peace between man and God through the mediator Jesus. Jesus said if they had known “what” would bring peace. That “what” was His sacrifice.
Romans 11:7-23 talk about how the Jews’ “eyes are darkened” in order that their rejection of that sacrifice means we are “grafted in” to the root stock which is Jesus. But God is not done with them. He allowed Jerusalem to be destroyed in order to focus on a person, not a place. Zechariah 12:10 speaks about how at some point Israel will recognize that it has killed the Messiah and repent and turn. Revelation 7:4 speaks of 144,000 from the nation of Israel that during the final 7 years prior to the Lord’s return will become saved and be like “super Christians” sharing the gospel in a very hostile environment.
So next, Jesus enters Jerusalem through the Eastern Gate (also prophetically significant in Psalm 118 and Ezekiel 44:1-3) and goes to the Temple complex.
45 – 46
Jesus entered the Temple complex and saw before Him something that was more like a shopping mall than a place of worship. Surrounding the Temple itself was the Court of the Gentiles. This was a place that non-Jews could came to worship Yahweh, but no further. An inscription was discovered on the Temple mount that reads as follows:
IS TO GO BEYOND THE BALUSTRADE
AND THE PLAZA OF THE TEMPLE ZONE
WHOEVER IS CAUGHT DOING SO
WILL HAVE HIMSELF TO BLAME
FOR HIS DEATH
WHICH WILL FOLLOW
This was where the rest of the world met Yahweh. What had happened is that the Jews came to the Temple in order to make sacrifices and pay tithes. The animals needed to be spotless and without blemish (Exodus 12:5) and the Temple tithes had to be paid in Temple Shekels (Exodus 30:11-14). Jews traveling from around the world could not afford to transport animals and had various currencies in their home countries.
As a public service, the religious leaders provided “pure” animals and sacrificial items for purchase and provided a currency exchange. Those items included animals, wine, oil, salt, and doves. They figured the logical place to put such a market was in the Court of the Gentiles. Sounds all well and good, right? There was one little caveat to this arrangement. For every sale and every currency exchange, a small surcharge was added on—a surcharge that apparently went to the High Priest’s family (according to Bock, NIV Application Commentary on Luke’s Gospel).
Though the initial idea had been good, the result was two-fold. 1) It stopped people from approaching God and 2) it focused on the sale, not the sacrifice. Jesus throws out the merchants and cites two Old Testament prophets.
Isaiah 56:7 (HCSB) “I will bring them to My holy mountain and let them rejoice in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar, for My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
Jeremiah 7:11 (HCSB) Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your view? Yes, I too have seen it.” This is the LORD’s declaration.
The fourth aspect of what Jesus did was to essentially throw gasoline on His relationship to the religious leaders. They had already decided to kill Him (John 12:10) but now Jesus openly challenges their authority. He does it on purpose. He wants them to reject and kill Him—but they will still have to be accountable for that rejection.
By the way—even as Jesus’ body was broken and the veil of the temple torn in two (Matthew 27:51), that warning of death for approaching God has also been destroyed—through Jesus you can come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16).
47 – 48
So for a time, Jesus had cleansed the Temple and now could teach there without the people being distracted. Even as He is doing that, the religious leaders plotted how they could get Him. But they had to be crafty—since for now anyway, the people loved Him and every word He spoke. Coming in with guns blazing to arrest Him in the Temple would have been disastrous. So they had to come up with a much more mischievous plan.
- How loud is Jesus’ voice in your life? Jesus cleaned out all the distractions and barriers so that He could speak and teach. I wonder if sometimes we set up our own market in the Court of the Gentiles of our minds. We have so much clutter clamoring for our attention that the voice and presence of Jesus is lost. I’m not saying to stop your life and cloister yourself away, but be aware and strive to give the voice and presence of Jesus more clear prominence.
- How honest is your praise of Him? The crowds praised Him as the disciples urged them but later were just as quick to condemn Him. As humans we are vulnerable to influence by the loud voices in our lives—the culture, the media, co-workers, and even friends and family. How much are you letting those voices tell you what to think and how much are you tuning into the voice of Jesus and His Word?
- How grief-stricken is your heart for those that do not realize the peace that has come to them? Make it a habit to pray for those who are blindly following the values of this world and do not see their need of a savior. Instead of shooting our criticism, send up prayers to heaven “that the perception of their minds may be enlightened so they may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints” (Ephesians 1:18 HCSB)