Sunday, December 17, 2017

Matthew 21: Fever Pitch

Jerusalem circa 33 A.D. was a pressure cooker.  Roman oppressors alongside revolutionary zealots.  Galileans rubbing shoulders with Judeans.  Pharisees pitted against Sadducees.  Scribes versus sinners.  And everyone had messianic hopes and fears that were reaching a crescendo as Passover drew near. 

So it was that Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, knowing full well the implications of that action as recorded in the book of the prophet Zechariah.  This moment is remembered as the "Triumphal Entry."  In response to Jesus' arrival, the crowd gave him the equivalent of a ticker-tape parade, waving palm branches and yelling out, "Hosanna!"

When was the last time you said the word, "Hosanna?"  If ever, it was probably a Palm Sunday church service.  Do you know what it means?  It's a Hebrew expression which literally means, "Save!" or, "Save us right now!"  The people were calling this out to Jesus in the anticipation that He was coming to them as the Messiah.  It was a joyful, exuberant cry from a people looking to God's Anointed for their deliverance.

Recognizing the implications of this chant, the chief priests and the teachers of the law move to criticize Jesus and shut it down (vs. 15).  Jesus, however, tells them it's only natural and to be expected, quoting Psalm 8:2.  He is not going to be indulging the religious authorities or masking His true identity any longer.

Events are happening very fast now, and we are entering the last week of Jesus' life and ministry on earth.  In one week's time, it will be Easter Sunday.  But before He gets to the Resurrection, Jesus will have to endure the Last Supper, the Garden, the Trial, and the Passion.  Today's tumultuous crowd calls for His coronation will; in a matter of days the mob before Pilate will be calling for His crucifixion.

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