My Gracious friend:
The Holiday seasons are now upon us, as Canada will be celebrating their Thanksgiving early this month. We to the south will do so shortly, and then can Christmas be far behind? It is a wondrous time of year. We all to some extent will experience the glorious colors of autumn, and most will awaken some morning to a white wonderland covering the landscape if you haven’t already. It should be a special time, just as it surely was for the Galilean pilgrim as they traveled up from Jericho with Jesus for this last visit to the city of Jerusalem.
Last month we saw that our Lord made no attempt to hush Bartimaeus as he cried out “Son of David, have mercy.” Now as Jesus enters the city these same pilgrims are shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David.” Our Lord also makes no attempt to silence the proclamations of this multitude, praises that are saying that the Messiah is here, And Jesus has even gone so far as to arrange to ride into the city on a donkey. All this, Matthew declares is to fulfill another messianic prophecy, this by Zechariah.
If this wasn’t enough He will upon entering, what was described as one of the most beautiful structures in the world, the Jewish Temple, will again chase out the money changers and sellers. This as John tells us was another fulfillment of prophecy; this from the Psalms. It is also a clear challenge to the authority of the Temple priesthood, and their monetary arrangement with what Jesus describes as “a den of thieves.” More, the “Court of the Gentiles” was defiled for the purpose of enriching the priesthood, and as result the only place in all the world where non-Jews could engage in worshipping the one true God was desecrated. This will soon be changed permanently, but for now our Lord’s words and actions are clear, this is the city’s chance, and we learn their last chance, to accept the message of the Kingdom, and embrace He who is more than a “Prophet from Galilee.”
Yet, He is not done. Matthew tells us that “the blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them” (Mt. 21:14). This is so like our Lord, and when the “chief priest and scribes saw the wonderful things he did, and the young boys crying out in the Temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they were indignant” (v.15). Is that not just like those that try limit our worship, tell us what is appropriate and inappropriate, and heaven forbid, that we pray for healing? Jesus heals all, and as the young boys studying for their Bar Mitzvah begin to praise the Lord, these religious leaders reveal their deplorable spiritual state, “do you hear what they are saying?” Of course Jesus has heard them, and answers as only He can, “Yes I do hear, and have you not read,” and He then quotes from the eighth Psalm, “out of the mouths of children and toddlers you have brought forth perfect praise” (v16 GK).
He then leaves them. I can picture them looking at His back as He leaves, seething in anger. He has made His message so clear. He is the messiah, but they could never accept this in any form. In their minds this is impossible, like many in our day that refuse to believe despite the evidence, and unassailable probability. Here Jesus made it all the more obvious by healing the blind and the lame. And in the days following He will continue to antagonize them by thwarting every attempt to embarrass, or expose Him as some unlettered country bumpkin. Instead He will show them to be hypocrites, ill prepared to be the leaders of the Jewish people, and really not as clever or educated as the think they are.
I like this Jesus who makes puffed up self-important religious leaders uncomfortable, who is uncompromising in His ministry, lets them know who He is, and especially that He took time to heal the blind and the lame, and I’m sure anyone else who came. That is the Jesus I’ve come to know, and love so much. And the Jesus I want to always proclaim. Yes, these hypocrites would plot to kill Him, and they even thought they had succeeded in getting rid of Him. But they “neither knew scripture nor the power of God,” for their plotting, duplicity, and malice, was all in God’s purpose. This divine purpose was that we would experience Him as Messiah, Savior, Lord, and yes, Healer many times over.
Let us give Thanksgiving for Jesus Christ,
Thomas Randolf Wyatt