Hello and welcome to Wednesday’s podcast. I hope you are having a fabulous week.
Over the last couple of days we have looked at the offer that Jesus makes to train and disciple us and our need to be ‘all in,’ and ‘hold nothing back’. And we have asked whether we are subjects, wanting to maintain our independence, or servants, who draw close to the master and allow Jesus to shape our lives.
Today we stand outside Jerusalem to greet Jesus, riding a young donkey down from the mount of olives, towards Jerusalem, the nation’s capital city and the people proclaim him king. He is the one.
V37-40: When [Jesus] came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
Jesus comes to be crowned king, not on a stallion at the head of a conquering army but lowly riding on a young donkey, never been ridden before.
And in the crowd we see two reactions… those that cheered and those that jeered… those that cheered the coming king, those that had seen the miracles… that believed that the wind of change was blowing through the nation. And those that jeered… those who hated him, who saw him as a threat to their power and position, those who plotted to take his life.
But neither those that cheered or those that jeered would stay the course; all would call for his death, all would call for his crucifixion. They cheered his approach to the city, they expected great change. But rather than change to their external situation, Jesus did something no-one was expecting.
He didn’t wage war on the Romans, the external force that shaped and controlled their day to day lives… instead he waged war on their religion and by doing so he sought to change the heart of their nation and bring freedom to every individual.
When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”
God’s temple, his house, the most holy site in all Israel, Jesus called a den of robbers!
Jesus rides into our lives… he is all knowing, all powerful, all authority has been given to him. What do we expect of this KING Jesus? A change in our external circumstances… or do we expect him to wage war on the way that we relate to Him and those around us, our practices, our rituals, our understanding of the way things work? He wants us to know freedom and love and overwhelming joy. He wants that love to transform us from the inside…
You see, Jesus doesn’t care if you go to church, he doesn’t care if you tithe your money, he doesn’t care if you are a leader in the church or lead others in worship. He isn’t bothered if you read your Bible every day.
He cares about just one thing… only one…
Because Jesus knows if our hearts are changed then everything else will change.
Have our hearts been touched by God’s love?
Do our hearts leak the same love that he has shown us to those around us?
We can come to church and not be moved. We can give money out of a sense of duty and obligation and never cultivate generous hearts, we can lead and yet our hearts remain closed, we can worship passionately but not live passionate lives. We can read our Bibles and pray and not allow ourselves to be changed.
He’s not come to fight in the way that we understand… No! He came to die and so secure the greatest victory ever won in heaven or on earth. He came to break the power of sin and darkness and flood the earth with his love.
He has not come to overthrow but to redeem, to restore, to reconcile, to mend what is broken. He came to offer us forgiveness and teach us how to forgive.
So today, how is our relationship with God? Have we fallen into the trap of religiously going through the motions, doing our duty but allowing our hearts to be unchanged? Do we sing praises one day and deny him thorough our selfishness the next? Do we need Jesus to turn over some tables in our lives and remind us of the love, freedom and joy that he brings and wants to bring through us to the world?
Father, thank that you don’t want to weigh us down with religious practices instead you want to connect with us in ways that will change our hearts and our lives. Help us to receive your great love, your forgiveness and your grace and help us to live lives overflowing with love, generosity and a desire to help those around us. Amen.
READING: Luke 19:28-48
After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?” say, “The Lord needs it.”’
Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’
They replied, ‘The Lord needs it.’
They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’
‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’
‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognise the time of God’s coming to you.’
When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘“My house will be a house of prayer”; but you have made it “a den of robbers”.’
Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.