December 9, 2012

Luke Looks Back 24


Study 24 - Luke 19:28–48

The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Jesus cannot complete his mission without entering Jerusalem and confronting the authorities there. This he does, first with actions and then with words

Please read Luke 19: 28-38.

It seems likely that Jesus had made some arrangements the twelve knew nothing about. Perhaps he had 2 sets of supporters: the apostles in spiritual matters and a group of organisers or deacons.)

Question 1: What makes that a reasonable thing to say? Are there any alternative explanations?

There is something a bit mysterious about the account of Jesus sending two disciples to get the colt. It is hard to be sure but there does seem to have been a prior arrangement made by Jesus that the two disciples did not know the details of. To think that Jesus knew through his divine powers that the colt would be there is probably to over-emphasize the divine in Jesus and forget that he was also human.

The account of the way Jesus entered Jerusalem is full of hints of OT passages. Three of the most important are:

1 Kings 1:33-35 which reads: "Take your lord's servants with you and have Solomon my son mount my own mule and take him down to Gihon. There have Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel. Blow the trumpet and shout, 'Long live King Solomon!' Then you are to go up with him, and he is to come and sit on my throne and reign in my place. I have appointed him ruler over Israel and Judah."

Psalm 118:26-27 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. The LORD is God, With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession.

Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!

Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!

See, your king comes to you,

righteous and having salvation,

lowly and riding on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Each of these is important in that Jesus did things that ensured that he fulfilled these prophecies. Jesus often fulfilled prophecies without having any apparent control on what happened but this is totally deliberate.

Question 2: Why did Jesus make sure these prophecies were fulfilled? Why did he make his entry into Jerusalem into such a public spectacle? He did not always do this. In John 7: 10 we read that after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.

Jesus knew he would die in Jerusalem. He did not want to die quietly. This was the most important event in the history of mankind. It had to be witnessed by many people. Those people needed to have all the necessary and sufficient evidence that he was indeed the Messiah, the Anointed One, even if they did not believe the evidence.

Question 3: What will each of the following have been expecting:

  • an ordinary member of the crowd?
  • one of the disciples?
  • one of the priests, lawyers or leaders of the people?
  • a watching centurion of the Roman guard in charge of keeping the peace?

This is something interesting to use our imaginations on. I reckon a member of the crowd would have been caught up in the excitement, possibly not knowing much about Jesus but sensing that something important was happening.  One of the disciples would have realised the significance of what was happening, have been exceedingly excited and wanting to be ready for anything including fighting. One of the leaders of the people would have been annoyed and worried, concerned that there might be a full blown riot before long. A centurion would have been making sure his sword slid easily out of its scabbard, that his men were all lined up and waiting, and relishing the prospect of a fight against a largely unarmed crowd.

Luke's account continues with Jesus prophesying the total destruction of the city and the destruction of the temple. All of which actually happened in AD 70, just about the time Luke was writing, and involved the slaughter of most of the inhabitants of the city and the surrounding countryside.

We read Luke 19:19-48.

What Jesus said in Luke 19:46 is a combination of Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7: 11. I will read rather more verses than these because in both cases the context adds important ideas to those in the exact words Jesus used. Listen out carefully for those extra ideas, which form the next question.

Question 4a: Read Isaiah 56:3-8. What extra ideas are there in those verses that would have been of interest to the more knowledgeable people in the crowd.

Isaiah includes both foreigners and eunuchs, those who were excluded from the temple worship that governed all of life at Jerusalem feast days.

Question 4b: Read Jeremiah 7: 3-11. What extra ideas are there in those verses that would have been of interest to the more knowledgeable people in the crowd.

Jeremiah places conditions of good behaviour on temple worshippers. He is saying it is not enough just to be a Jew or an Israelite.

Jesus was saying it was not who you were but what you were that mattered. If your worship at the temple was to be of any significance at all before God it was your life of faith that mattered, not whether you were a Jew, or not, or any particular sort of Jew. Perhaps Jesus and his disciples were just entering the court of the Gentiles, the great outer court of the temple from which the disabled (eunuchs) and foreigners were excluded, as he spoke. No race, or language, is any more important than any other to the Christian. The Bible Jesus used was a translation from the Hebrew to the Greek. We rejoice in the translation of the Bible into more and more languages.

The way Jesus clears the temple in Luke 19:45 is a symbolic picture of the destruction of the temple.  So that destruction was not accidental or due to the will of the Roman general.

Question 5: What then is the significance of the temple ruins in Jerusalem now, for Jews, for Muslims, for Christians?

The temple ruins are of absolutely no real significance for anybody any longer except as interesting relics of something which is now meaningless.

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