Daily Archives: April 13, 2014

Dealing with Death

 

If you really want to kill a conversation, just start talking about death and dying. But is it really wise to avoid this important subject? Christians in our time appear to be doing this, particularly as they emphasize Christian living and having our best life now. So how should we think about death? Is it okay to mourn during a funeral, or should we consider it a celebration of life? That’s the focus of this edition of White Horse Inn (original air date: Feb. 6, 2005).

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Anti-God ‘Noah’ Dives, ‘God’s Not Dead’ Soars

“Noah” is now in real danger of losing money. Between its $125 million production budget and promotional budget likely in the $50 to $75 million range, the anti-God epic needs to gross something close to $400 million worldwide just to break even. Depending on how many countries remain for the film to open in, as of now $400 million is a long ways off.

Going forward, “Noah” is also facing serious headwinds.

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A COMPROMISER’S FALL- Balaam, the prophet

God's Enduring Love

BALAAM- THE DISOBEDIENT, SELF-WILLED, AND COMPROMISING PROPHET

“And God said to Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.”  (Numbers 22:12)

n his ass, and his two servants were with him."  (Numbers 22:22)

“And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.” (Numbers 22:22)

Balaam- the Story of a Great Compromiser

This story of Balaam, the prophet, is an excellent illustration of how a person who starts well with God can progressively backslide and eventually lose all of his reward.  Compromise is a root cause of the today’s apostasy in the churches and of the great falling away (2Th2:1-3).  The Bible account in Numbers chapters 22-24 is a good example of how compromising God’s Word is a step in the wrong direction- when a person professes…

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Economic Doom: A Stock Market Collapse Within 12 Months, Is the Market Primed For a Major Collapse, And 2014 Will Be Year Of Reckoning For U.S.

These Christian Times

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SCROLL DOWN FOR NEWS AND VIDEO: For those of you who say that I spread fear, I want to make myself clear. I do not get these articles from some top conspiracies sites that misses the mark on so many stories. I get these articles from supposed reputed sources. Conspiracy websites aren’t the only one that passes doom and gloom articles. CNBC and Daily Mail Online are running a story that Marc Faber believes that within the next 12 months a Stock Market Crash will happen. I report what I read from these websites. If you have an issue with the titles than take it up with those reputed and supposed trustworthy website. I take the titles that “THEY” put up on their news site as the headlines for readers to read. With that being said; Here is what Marc Faber said on Future Now:  I think it’s very likely…

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Holy Week, Day 1: Palm Sunday

Sunday, March 29, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with New Testament professors Doug Moo (of Wheaton College Graduate School) and Andreas Köstenberger (of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary). We will be releasing a new video each day this week.

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Tertullian Hits the Nail on the Head

Zwinglius Redivivus

[W]e did not get eyes to minister to lust, and the tongue for speaking evil with, and ears to be the receptacle of evil speech, and the throat to serve the vice of gluttony, and the belly to be gluttony’s ally, and the genitals for unchaste excesses, and hands for deeds of violence, and the feet for an erring life; or was the soul placed in the body that it might become a thought-manufactory of snares, and fraud, and injustice?

I think not; for if God, as the righteous ex-actor of innocence, hates everything like malignity—if He hates utterly such plotting of evil, it is clear beyond a doubt, that, of all things that have come from His hand, He has made none to lead to works which He condemns, even though these same works may be carried on by things of His making; for, in fact, it is the…

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Herescope: The PASSION of the PRESENCE & the Purpose of the Passion (Part 5) – The 2nd Coming of the “Presence”

Read Part 1 
Read Part 2 
Read Part 3 
Read Part 4 

We’ll have the power to raise people from the dead,
that even death won’t stand before the power of the Church.

—Mike Bickle[1]
I don’t know what the Second Coming is to you, …but let me tell you he’s coming to you, he’s coming to his church, he’s coming to abide in you, to take up his abode in you…. I want you to know he’s coming to the Church before he comes for the Church. He’s gonna perfect the Church so the Church can be the Image, be Him, and be his representation.
—Paul Cain[2]
God spoke to the children of Israel to build Him a tabernacle because He wanted to come and dwell with them. If you don’t build it He won’t come and stay. You won’t have a habitation without it. We are talking about creating an atmosphere so He can dwell and linger, a sanctuary, a place reserved. A place where the heavens open and we keep going back to keep it open.
—Todd Bentley[3]
Now, in this age, there are people being transformed
from natural earthly spirit beings into supernatural spiritual sons of God –
literally becoming as Christ
is in this world today.

—Ron McGatlin[4]

The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) teaches the same basic doctrines as the IHOP movement. This is because they both have the same historical roots that track directly back the old Manifest Son of God/Latter Rain cult. There is a noticeable difference, however. Mike Bickle invented his own unique verbiage in his “Bridal Paradigm” in order to update the old Latter Rain doctrines with the prophetic visions of his group of “Kansas City Prophets.” It takes some in-depth indoctrination to grasp the gist of Bickle’s message. But it is somewhat easier to figure out what the NAR is teaching. Both groups rely upon the old George Warnock “Feast of Tabernacles” allegory[5] for their eschatology. And both are eagerly anticipating a “Second Pentecost” experience of a coming “Presence.”

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Sharing Christ in South Asia Means Sacrifice

Following Christ can be deadly in South Asia. According to Open Doors USA, “Pastors are frequently beaten up or killed, church buildings destroyed, and converts forced to flee their homes.” However, people in this region desperately need to hear the Gospel. One country in South Asia holds the most unreached people groups in the entire world. A Scriptures In Use worker from South Asia says despite the danger, he and others are risking it all to share the Good News. As a result, “The Gospel is penetrating regions where there has been no Gospel witness before, bringing tremendous hostility to people who are working [there], tremendous persecution for new believers.” “We are living in a very difficult time of great persecution, great hostility to the Gospel, and a great challenge to the Church.” Christian News Network

Questions about Easter: What Is Passion Week?

 

Passion Week (also known as Holy Week) is the time from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday). Also included within Passion Week are Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Passion Week is so named because of the passion with which Jesus willingly went to the cross in order to pay for the sins of His people. Passion Week is described in Matthew chapters 21–27; Mark chapters 11–15; Luke chapters 19–23; and John chapters 12–19. Passion Week begins with the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday on the back of a colt as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9.

Passion Week contained several memorable events. Jesus cleansed the Temple for the second time (Luke 19:45–46), then disputed with the Pharisees regarding His authority. Then He gave His Olivet Discourse on the end times and taught many things, including the signs of His second coming. Jesus ate His Last Supper with His disciples in the upper room (Luke 22:7–38), then went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray as He waited for His hour to come. It was here that Jesus, having been betrayed by Judas, was arrested and taken to several sham trials before the chief priests, Pontius Pilate, and Herod (Luke 22:54–23:25).

Following the trials, Jesus was scourged at the hands of the Roman soldiers, then was forced to carry His own instrument of execution (the Cross) through the streets of Jerusalem along what is known as the Via Dolorosa (way of sorrows). Jesus was then crucified at Golgotha on the day before the Sabbath, was buried and remained in the tomb until Sunday, the day after the Sabbath, and then gloriously resurrected.

It is referred to as Passion Week because in that time, Jesus Christ truly revealed His passion for us in the suffering He willingly went through on our behalf. What should our attitude be during Passion Week? We should be passionate in our worship of Jesus and in our proclamation of His Gospel! As He suffered for us, so should we be willing to suffer for the cause of following Him and proclaiming the message of His death and resurrection.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Easter: What Is Palm Sunday?

 

Palm Sunday is the day we remember the “triumphal entry” of Jesus into Jerusalem, exactly one week before His resurrection (Matthew 21:1–11). Some 450–500 years earlier, the Prophet Zechariah had prophesied, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). Matthew 21:7–9 records the fulfillment of that prophecy: “They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!’ ” This event took place on the Sunday before Jesus’ crucifixion.

In remembrance of this event, we celebrate Palm Sunday. It is referred to as Palm Sunday because of the palm branches that were laid on the road as Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem. Palm Sunday was the fulfillment of the Prophet Daniel’s “seventy sevens” prophecy: “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times” (Daniel 9:25). John 1:11 tells us, “He (Jesus) came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” The same crowds that were crying out “Hosanna” were crying out “crucify Him” five days later (Matthew 27:22–23).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

An Biblical Examination of Palm Sunday

The Triumphal Entry (Matthew 21:1-11)

21 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

    “Say to the daughter of Zion,

‘Behold, your king is coming to you,

humble, and mounted on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’ ”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” [1]

 

Triumphal entry of Jesus Christ: Thematic Outline

Synopsis

Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on a colt, royally yet humbly, to the rejoicing of his followers, but provoking opposition from the Jewish religious leaders.

      1. The colt used in Jesus Christ’s entry into Jerusalem
        1. Jesus Christ’s instructions to his disciples
          1. Lk 19:29–31
              1. Luke 19:29–31 (ESV) — 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’ ”
        2. The obedience of the disciples
          1. See also Mt 21:6
              1. Matthew 21:6 (ESV) — 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them.
      2. Jesus Christ’s entry into Jerusalem
        1. Jn 12:14–15
          1. John 12:14–15 (ESV) — 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
        2. See also Is 62:11 ; Zec 9:9
          1. Isaiah 62:11 (ESV) — 11 Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.”
          2. Zechariah 9:9 (ESV) — 9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
      3. The response of the crowd to Jesus Christ’s entry into Jerusalem
        1. Proclamation of Jesus Christ’s kingship
          1. Mt 21:8; 2 Ki 9:13 Spreading cloaks on the road was an act of royal homage.
              1. Matthew 21:8 (ESV) — 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
              2. 2 Kings 9:13 (ESV) — 13 Then in haste every man of them took his garment and put it under him on the bare steps, and they blew the trumpet and proclaimed, “Jehu is king.”
        2. Proclamation of Jesus’ messiahship
          1. Mt 21:9
              1. Matthew 21:9 (ESV) — 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
          2. See also Ps 118:26
              1. Psalm 118:26 (ESV) — 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord.
        3. Proclamation of Jesus Christ’s victory
          1. Jn 12:13 Palm branches were used in celebration of victory.
              1. John 12:13 (ESV) — 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”
          2. See also Le 23:40 ; Ps 118:27 ; Re 7:9
              1. Leviticus 23:40 (ESV) — 40 And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.
              2. Psalm 118:27 (ESV) — 27 The Lord is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar!
              3. Revelation 7:9 (ESV) — 9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,
      4. The response of the Pharisees to Jesus Christ’s entry into Jerusalem
        1. Lk 19:39–40
          1. Luke 19:39–40 (ESV) — 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

 

The Triumphal Entry: Commentary

Matthew 21:1–11

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to the Daughter of Zion,

‘See, your king comes to you,

gentle and riding on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest!”

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

The most important life ever lived was that of Jesus Christ, and the most important part of that life was the momentous week that ended it. The week began with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. It included a second cleansing of the temple, the final teaching, the institution of the Lord’s Supper, and the arrest, trial, and crucifixion. It ended with Jesus’ resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday. Eight momentous days in all.

This final week is so important that the Gospels give a disproportionate amount of space to it. Jesus lived thirty-three years. His active ministry occupied three years. But large portions of the Gospels are given over to the events of just the last eight days. Matthew devotes one-fourth of his Gospel to it (chaps. 21–28). Mark uses one-third of his Gospel (chaps. 11–16). Luke gives a fifth of his chapters to the events of this last week (chaps. 19:28–24). Most remarkable of all, John gives half of his Gospel (chaps. 12–21). Taken together, there are eighty-nine chapters in the Gospels, but twenty-nine and a half of these (exactly one-third) recount what happened between the triumphal entry and Jesus’ resurrection. Such is the case because these are the climactic events not only of Jesus’ life but of all history. They were planned from before the foundation of the world, and our salvation from sin and wrath depends on them.

It is not just the Gospels that emphasize these events either. We can think of the one verse summary of Christianity that Paul gives at the end of Romans 4: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (v. 25). Better yet is the outline Paul provides near the start of 1 Corinthians 15:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

verses 3–8

This is the outline followed by the early preachers, whose sermons are preserved in the Book of Acts: “You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this” (Acts 3:15).

Final Break with Judaism

From Matthew’s perspective, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem also marked the Lord’s final break with Judaism. We can remember from earlier studies that the presentation of Jesus as Israel’s king is a major theme of the Gospel, which I have highlighted by subdividing the book along these lines: part 1: “The Coming of the King” (chaps. 1–4); part 2: “The Sermon on the Mount” (chaps. 5–7); part 3: “The Power of the Kingdom” (chaps. 8–10); part 4: “Is Jesus Really God’s King?” (chaps. 11–12); part 5: “The Parables of the Kingdom” (chap. 13); part 6: “The Withdrawal of the King” (chaps. 14–17); part 7: “The Citizens of the Kingdom” (chaps. 18–20); and now, part 8: “The King’s Final Break with Judaism” (chaps. 21–23).

There will be two more significant divisions after this, part 9: “The Sermon on the Mount of Olives” (chaps. 24–25) and, finally, part 10: “Death and Resurrection” (chaps. 26–28). The death and resurrection of Jesus have already been anticipated by three specific predictions: Matthew 16:21; 17:22–23; 20:17–19.

A Planned Demonstration

This climactic week begins, then, with what we call the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Each of the Gospels records this event, and the first significant detail they record is that Jesus arranged what was to happen. In other words, this was not merely a case of some spontaneous outburst of excitement on the part of the people, though there was obviously some spontaneity about it. Rather, it was something about which the Lord himself carefully planned to make a statement.

Matthew says that as Jesus and the disciples were approaching Bethphage, an outlying district of Jerusalem, Jesus sent two of the disciples ahead of them to procure a donkey and her colt. Matthew is the only writer who mentions two animals, and some scholars have suggested, in a manner insulting to Matthew, that he misunderstood the text he is about to cite from Zechariah and invented the extra animal to conform to it. Matthew was not stupid, of course. Jesus did not ride on two animals. He is merely recording a detail the other writers omit, namely, that there was a mother donkey and her foal, on which Jesus actually sat, though the clothes were spread on both. As far as the prophecy is concerned, it is an example of Hebrew parallelism in which two lines say the same thing, which Matthew certainly understood. We could translate, “on a donkey, that is, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Matthew records Jesus as saying, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away” (vv. 2–3). Mark and Luke say that some people (Luke, “the owners”) did ask why the disciples were untying the animal but that they were willing to give it when they learned “the Lord” needed it (Mark 11:4–6; Luke 19:33–34).

Why did Jesus arrange to enter Jerusalem in this way? He did not need to ride. He had already walked the entire distance from Galilee. In fact, this is the only occasion when we hear of Jesus doing anything but walking. Obviously, Jesus wanted to make a statement (as we say) or, to use a biblical way of speaking, a symbolic action. He was acting like Jeremiah when Jeremiah was told to buy and then break a clay jar to symbolize the breaking of the nation (Jer. 19:1–15) or buy a field to symbolize God’s commitment to bring the people back to the land of Israel after their captivity in Babylon (Jer. 32:6–44).

The meaning of what Jesus arranged is found in the quotation of Zechariah 9:9, for Matthew says that this took place “to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet” (v. 4).

“Say to the Daughter of Zion,

‘See, your king comes to you,

gentle and riding on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”

The quotation is from a section of the book prophesying what was to happen to Israel in the future, and what it prophesies is the coming of God’s King. The quotation does not appear in Mark or Luke. John contains it, but it is not as complete nor is it emphasized. Matthew is the Gospel of the King, and this is the point at which Matthew shows Jesus coming to his capital city as the rightful King of Israel.

But what a king! Not a warlike monarch, arriving on a battle steed to marshall his armies for action. Rather, Jesus comes “gentle and riding on a donkey,” as Zechariah says (v. 5). In these far-off days a donkey was not an ignoble animal. Kings did ride them. When David appointed Solomon to be his successor as king of Israel, he had him seated on his personal mule and taken to Gihon to be anointed by Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet (1 Kings 1:32–40). Yet the donkey did symbolize that Jesus was coming in peace, not for war, and that his was to be a gentle, peaceful reign. This is what Jesus indicated by his action and what Matthew emphasized by retaining the word gentle in the quote. John omits the line containing gentle in his quotation because he is interested only in the fact that Jesus’ riding on a colt fulfilled the words of Zechariah.

Is Jesus ever going to do battle? Yes, indeed. In Revelation 19 he is described as arriving on a white horse to judge and make war (v. 11). His robes are dipped in blood (v. 13), which probably recalls the warlike figure of Isaiah 63, who comes from Edom with his robes dyed crimson. But that is for then. For now the King comes humbly and in peace, for his is a peaceable kingdom. We sing in the hymn “Lead On, O King Eternal,”

For not with swords loud clashing,

Nor roll of stirring drums,

But deeds of love and mercy,

The heavenly kingdom comes.

Up to this point Jesus had been keeping his messianic claim a secret lest there be a premature attempt to make him king, and because Jesus was not the kind of king the people wanted. But now, knowing that the time of his passion was at hand, Jesus deliberately provoked this demonstration.

The People’s Praise

Jesus had sent two disciples for the donkeys. When they arrived, the disciples spread their clothes on both. Jesus sat on the colt, which was probably led by the mother donkey since it was a young animal that had not been ridden before (Mark 11:2; Luke 19:30). The entire band then made its way down the steep descent of the Mount of Olives in full sight of the city of Jerusalem, attracting people as they went. As the crowd came near, others who were in Jerusalem saw what was happening and went out of the city to join the group that was arriving (Matt. 21:9). The people began to cry out,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest!”

Luke adds the cry “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38), and John adds, “Blessed is the King of Israel!” (John 12:13).

These were spontaneous praise chants, but they were not arbitrary words. Two of these sentences come from Psalm 118. The first is verse 25: “O Lord, save us.” The second is verse 26: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” In the psalm the words “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” are found exactly as we have them in our English versions. Verse 25 is quoted differently, but we can see the connection if we know that the words “save us” (from “O Lord, save us” in the first half of the verse) are literally “Save us now” which is the Hebrew word Hosanna. This is what the people were shouting when they exclaimed, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” and “Hosanna in the highest!”

The significance of this is that Psalm 118 is the last psalm of the Egyptian Hallel (Psalms 113–118). Hallel means “praise,” and the Egyptian Hallel was the collection of praise psalms sung at the great Jewish feasts: the feast of dedication, the feasts of the new moons, and by families at the yearly observance of the Passover. At Passover two of the psalms were sung before the meal and four afterward. In fact, they were probably the psalms sung by Jesus and his disciples in the upper room just before Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion (Matt. 26:30; Mark 14:26).

Jesus entered Jerusalem during Passover week, probably at the very time the thousands of Passover lambs were being brought into the city, later to be killed and eaten as part of the Passover observance. It is natural, then, that lines from Psalm 118 were on the people’s minds and tongues on this occasion.

Did the people understand that Jesus was the Son of God and that he was coming to save his people from their sins? Of course not, though a few, such as Mary of Bethany, seem to have understood that he was about to die (John 12:7). But whether the masses understood it or not, these verses describe what Jesus was doing and was about to do. He had indeed come “in the name of the Lord” to do the will of his Father in heaven, and what he had been sent to do was save his people from their sins.

Who is This?

Matthew ends his account of the triumphal entry by telling us that when Jesus entered Jerusalem, “the whole city was stirred,” as it had been thirty-three years earlier when the Magi came to inquire, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” (Matt. 2:2–3). Here they ask, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee” (vv. 10–11).

That does not seem to be a very profound answer, but it is probably more significant than it appears. We should remember that the crowd was calling the man who was entering Jerusalem on a donkey the Messiah, for that is what the shouts of praise meant. John tells us that they called him “the King of Israel” explicitly (John 12:13). Therefore, when the people in the city asked, “Who is this?” they meant, “Who is this person you are calling the Messiah?” The answer identified Jesus as the Messiah. The words recorded in Matthew as the crowd’s answer seem to mean, “Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee, is the messianic Son of David, the King of Israel.”

Significant? Yes, but not good enough for two reasons.

First, they were still thinking of a powerful political ruler, the kind who could marshall an army and drive out the occupying Romans. The disciples were thinking along these lines themselves even after the Lord’s resurrection (see Acts 1:6).

Second, the people were shallow even in their confession of Jesus as the King and Messiah of Israel. We cannot help but remember that the triumphal entry took place on Sunday, and by the following Thursday (my dating) or Friday (the traditional day for Jesus’ execution) they would be singing an entirely different tune as they beseeched Pilate, the Roman governor, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” (Matt. 27:22–23).

What is Your Answer?

Who is Jesus? This is the time to get your answer to that question straight, in case you have never done it before. Matthew has presented Jesus as God’s King. We have seen him rejected by many but believed on by a few. Where do you stand on this issue? Is Jesus the King? Is he the Son of God? Is he the Savior? Have you trusted him for the salvation of your soul?

If you are still hesitating with your answer, let me take you through the possibilities. There are only three of them, once we eliminate the one truly impossible idea that Jesus was merely a good man. Whatever he might be, he was certainly not just a good man, for no good man could honestly make the claims he made. Jesus presented himself as the Savior of the human race, claiming to be God. Is he? If so, he is more than a mere man. If not, then he is at best mistaken (consequently, not “good”) and at worst a deceiver. What are we to do with his claims? John R. W. Stott wrote, “The claims are there. They do not in themselves constitute evidence of deity. The claims may have been false. But some explanation of them must be found. We cannot any longer regard Jesus as simply a great teacher, if he was so grievously mistaken in one of the chief subjects of his teaching, namely himself.”

C. S. Lewis wrote similarly, “You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool; you can spit at him and kill him for a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Thinking of Jesus merely as a good man or a good teacher is impossible, but what are the alternatives? The quotation from C. S. Lewis lists the actual possibilities clearly.

First, Jesus may have been insane or suffering from megalomania. Hitler suffered from megalomania. Napoleon probably did as well. Was Jesus like them? Before we jump too quickly at that explanation, we need to ask whether the total character of Jesus as we know it supports that speculation. Did Jesus act like a person who was crazy? Did he speak like one suffering from megalomania? As we read the Gospels, we see that rather than being mad, Jesus was actually the sanest man who ever lived. He spoke with quiet authority. He was in control of every kind of situation. He will not fit that first, easy classification.

The second possibility is that Jesus was a deceiver, that is, he set out intentionally to fool people. Before we settle on that answer, we need to examine what is involved in it. In the first place, if Jesus was a deceiver, he was the best deceiver who ever lived. Jesus claimed to be God, but that claim was not made in a Greek or Roman environment where the idea of many gods or even half gods was acceptable. It was made at the very heart of monotheistic Judaism. The Jews were ridiculed, even persecuted, for their belief in one God, but they stuck to their conviction fanatically. In that climate Jesus made his claims, and the remarkable thing is that he convinced people to believe in him. Lots of people—men and women, peasants and sophisticates, priests, rulers, eventually even members of his own family.

On the other hand, if Jesus was a deceiver, if he was not God, he should be judged a devil, for he did not merely say, “I am God,” and let it go at that. He said, “I am God come to save humanity; I am the way of salvation; trust me with your eternal destiny.” Jesus taught that God is holy, that we are separated from him because of our sins, and that he came to be our sin bearer. That is good news, even great news—but only if it is true. If it is not true, then his followers are of all human beings the most miserable, and Jesus should be hated as a devil from hell. If it is not true, Jesus sent generations of gullible followers to a hopeless eternity.

Is he a deceiver? Is that the explanation we have for one who was known for being “meek and lowly,” who became a poor itinerant evangelist in order to help the poor and teach those whom others despised? Somehow the facts do not fit. We cannot face the facts of his life and teaching and still call Jesus a deceiver. What then? If he was not a deceiver or insane, only one possibility is left. Jesus is who he said he is. He is the one the Gospels, including Matthew, proclaim him to be. He is the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior. Do you believe that? If you do, now is the time to turn from your sin, trust Jesus for your salvation, and follow him.[2]

 

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Mt 21:1–11). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2001). The Gospel of Matthew (pp. 432–440). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

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