Jesus Gets Treated Like a Rock Star
[Luke chapter 19, verses 28-48]
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Last week when we left off at verse 27 of Luke’s gospel chapter 19, Jesus had just finished telling the parable of the ten ‘minas’ as he spoke about using that which God has instilled within us since before we were born. We as followers of Christ are charged with the responsibility of being diligent stewards and serving Christ with as much distinction as we can as we journey through life with our Savior towards our ultimate goal, which is to spend eternity with him. This week as we move on to part 3 of Luke 19, Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem with the Twelve as they were on their way to celebrate Passover at the main Temple there. As we will see, Jesus’ arrival on the outskirts of Jerusalem as he made his way into town was met with a tumultuous welcome. So let’s go there with Jesus and his apostles as they make their way through two small villages just north of Jerusalem, starting at verse 28.
“After Jesus 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?’, tell him, ‘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, ‘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 to the highest!’” (Luke 19, verses 28-38)
Jesus was coming south from Jericho towards Jerusalem. The straight-line distance from Jericho to Jerusalem is 15 miles; however, the precipitous mountain road between the two cities takes the traveler much further. Embedded within this text, specifically verses 30-35, we find additional proof that Jesus was the Son of God. He sent at least two or three of his followers ahead to a village, presumably either Bethphage or Bethany, to fetch the colt mentioned in Luke’s gospel. Only a man with supernatural powers could have known in advance that the colt was tied up where it was, there is simply no other way this could have occurred. Nor do I think Jesus had ESP, or was clairvoyant in any way. Neither of those even scratches the surface as far as the infinite powers possessed by the Son of God. After all, he is the only Son of an omniscient God. Moreover, the unidentified owner of the colt clearly knew who Jesus was, most likely by his impeccable reputation.
So, let’s take in the full scope of what was occurring in real time back then. Jesus and the Twelve, together with an entourage that must have been in the hundreds at least, and could have been as high as several thousand, are journeying en masse to Jerusalem. At this point Jesus’ ministry has been active for the last three and a half years, and his following has grown immeasurably during all that time. All the miracles, the healing and the eviction of evil or unclean spirits – which today we would likely call mental illness – for all that time had made Jesus a celebrity, something our Lord and Savior would never have called himself.
“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!’” Keep in mind that for the entire duration of Jesus’ ministry, a few of the Pharisees and experts in the Law of Moses – which was the entire Bible at that time – had been shadowing him and the Twelve, looking for a way to catch Jesus in a contradiction or some kind of mental lapse with regard to what our Lord and Savior had been teaching. They were looking for anything they could find because Jesus had really gotten into their business for their hypocrisy, and they hated that! But all the people were sure of exactly who Jesus was, or so they thought. The Old Testament they were using at the time spoke reverently of a messiah that would save the Jewish people from their Roman captors, and those in the crowd were sure that Jesus was that man. Instead, his fate was far worse, as everyone would soon find out. But for now, let’s go to the second half of our study, beginning at verse 39.
“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 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 recognize the time of God’s coming to you.’ Then he entered the temple area and began driving 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.” (Luke 19, verses 39-48)
Here in verse 39 we have yet another example of the Pharisees trying to rebuke Jesus and the Twelve for their manner of teaching, only to be rebuked themselves by the Savior of the world! I find Jesus’ range of emotions interesting right here, with him showing anger mixed with a little sarcasm in one sentence, and being reduced to tears in the next one. Jesus also prophesied against Jerusalem and its inhabitants when he said, “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 recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” Jesus was referring to a time nearly 40 years into the future, when the Roman Empire overran Jerusalem and destroyed the temple in 70 A.D. Thousands of people perished in this attack, and the Jewish people were scattered from their homeland across the entire known world at that time, and very likely beyond that. So great was their sin against God Almighty – handing his Son over to be crucified – that the Jewish people stayed scattered abroad until Israel was made a sovereign nation by the United Nations on May 14, 1948. And that, good people, is what happens to those who make Jesus cry!
“Then he entered the temple area and began driving 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.” I want you all to picture this in your mind. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus made a whip and physically drove the money changers out of the temple courts, but Luke doesn’t mention that, I’m not sure why to be perfectly honest with you. Still, Jesus is overturning the tables as he physically forced these ‘Shylocks’ out of what was supposed to be a sacred area, throwing some of the chairs in the process! These tables and chairs didn’t come from a store because there were no furniture stores back then. Everything was made by hand. Since these tables and chairs were made of solid wood, they were likely fairly heavy, with each table topping 100 pounds or more, maybe much more if they were of solid hardwood construction. These were not card tables and folding chairs, you can be sure of that! And Jesus’ rage and indignation at his Father’s house being turned into a virtual flea market was equally solid, you can be sure of that as well!
“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.” Right here is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to our Lord and Savior! Even though Jesus came into the Temple area and began driving out the Shylock money changers, physically assaulting all of them who were unable to get out of his way – although the religious establishment wanted to kill Jesus, the overwhelming power of the people dissuaded them. We could and should take a lesson from just that, for in today’s crazy times where so many are unhappy with the status quo it would be in the best interests of the American people to rise up against this monstrosity known as the Federal Government before we all find ourselves being liquidated and slaughtered by it (think nuclear war, climate change, FEMA camps, etc.). There is an additional lesson that we can all take from the last of Luke 19, which is that “all the people hung on his words”. How about you, is that what you’ve been doing? Are we all ‘hanging on his words’ as we learn from Christ? Not on my words, I’m just the teacher, so let’s put me aside for the moment even though I personally write all these Progressive Christian Bible studies and my weekly commentaries. I’m just the messenger, but Jesus is the message. The only effective way we can “hang on his words” is by reading our Bibles daily. If you don’t have a print edition, consider one of the many Bible apps there are out there and just pick one. You don’t get the message of Jesus just by reading this blog, although I take heart in the fact that I perform this ministry for my Lord and Savior. You get it by reading his Word, and “hanging onto every word”. He’s the Author and the architect of our minds, hearts, and faiths! Cling to Jesus and you can’t go wrong! And next week we’ll start on Luke chapter 20.