Sunday, April 1, 2012

Hosanna to the King of Kings!

...from the archives...

"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." ~Zech 9.9


"Hosanna! Blessed is the Messiah, the Son of David! Bring us salvation like the prophecies foretold! You're our King! Save us!" The shouts of praise rang throughout Jerusalem. Their songs were so loud, the priests began to worry about crowd control. But that didn't matter to the people; their King had come! They had read the prophet Daniel and they'd been counting down the years according to his prophecy; they knew the promised King would be appearing soon (*1). It'd been 483 years, and although some were starting to lose faith, all was redeemed in this moment. Surely there had never been a prouder moment to be a Jew.

Today, at the exact moment Daniel had foretold, Yeshua the Nazarene rode into the city on a colt, declaring Himself to be the new King in the line of David (*2). They rolled out the red carpet, or the the palm branches as it were, to welcome Him. Although there was symbolism here they didn't see (*3), one thing was obvious to all: Prophecy was being fulfilled today. And everyone was willing to surrender their all to the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Israel.

Sound familiar? Don't we sing those same words almost every Sunday?


So, with the anticipation building, a multitude from Bethany and a multitude from Jerusalem all gathered around, Mark delivers the anticlimactic ending to the news flash of the century. Mark writes, "Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the temple; and after looking around at everything, He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late." (Mark 11.11) What!? That's it? So Jesus looked around a little, then noticed His watch and split?

As odd as Mark makes it sound, there's actually much more going on here. Traditionally when a new king was riding into a conquered land for the first time, he would ride straight into the heart of the city, into the palace or wherever he intended to reign from, and into the throne room, where he would stop to inspect everything. The new king would then decide what would stay and what would go. Jesus does exactly that. He rides into the heart on the city, into the temple, and stops in the court of Gentiles. Surely there would have been hushed whispers behind all the commotion: "What's He doing? Why is he stopping here? This isn't anywhere special--nobody cares about the Court of Gentiles!"

But despite the murmurs Jesus dismounts the colt and begins to look around. He says nothing. Who knows how many hours went by. Finally, He motions to His disciples to head back up the hill. Jesus keeps his thoughts to Himself for the moment. And everyone slept happily that night.

What was going on in the mind of the King? We know from Luke's account that that same day he wept over Jerusalem; deeply grieved that they didn't understand the events that were bringing peace and even though this was "their day," (*4) they missed their visitation (Luke 19.41-44). He woke up the next morning in a terrible mood. He curses a fig tree (*5) for having no fruit when it looked like a healthy fruit-bearing plant, (Know anyone like that? Any churches?) and proceeds back down into Jerusalem. Headed once again for the throne room He chose yesterday: the court of Gentiles.

You know the story. The King, the same man the multitudes were singing praises to not 24 hours before, begins to change things. And they don't like it. He turns over tables, drives out the all the salesmen and the bankers and and frees the doves that were being sold for sacrifices. His message was clear: "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers."

Consider for a moment that changing things would have been totally within His jurisdiction as the new King. Wouldn't the natural response, based on their worship the day before, be something like:

"Ok Lord, you want us to dedicate this court for the nations to come and pray? Of course we will! You're the King! What else Lord? You don't want us to sell anything or lend money in here? We'll pack up right now! Whatever you wish, Lord! Tell us how to do things and we'll obey. Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD! Hosanna!"

Is that how you and I respond to His direction?

Was the temple His house or wasn't it?  ...Is your life His property? Or isn't it?



Footnotes:
*1 - See Daniel 9.25-26. Notice that that although they were excited to see the coming of the Messiah at this time, according to verse 26, the Messiah is also prophesied to be "cut off" at the same point in the timeline. Or, as hindsight would tell us, exactly 5 days later.

*2 - Interesting side note, the donkey wasn't actually a sign of humility like our Sunday School teachers taught us. It was a sign of royalty. In fact, it was the animal King David chose for Solomon to ride to his inauguration (1 Kings 1.38-39). It's possible Christ's triumphant entry on a colt, while specifically fulfilling Zechariah's prophecy, is also an allusion to Davidic bloodline.

*3 - For more detailed symbolism, check out this blog entry.

*4 - "The day of the Lord," a common idiom for the coming of the Messiah. (Isa 13:6; Isa 13:9; Isa 58:13; Jer 46:10; Eze 13:5; Eze 30:3; Joel 1:15; Joel 2:1; Joel 2:11; Joel 2:31; Joel 3:14; Amos 5:18; Amos 5:20; Obad 1:15; Zep 1:7; Zep 1:8; Zep 1:14; Mal 4:5)

*5 - Dr. Campbell observes, that the declaration, "for the time of (ripe, Ed.) figs was not yet," is not the reason why our Lord did not find any fruit on the tree, because the fig is of that class of vegetables in which the fruit is formed in its immature state before the leaves are seen. But as the fruit is of a pulpy nature, the broad, thick leaves come out in profusion to protect it from the rays of the sun during the time it is ripening. If the words, "for the time," etc. however, are read as a parenthesis, they then become a reason why Jesus Christ should look for fruit, because the season for gathering not having fully come, it would remove all suspicion that the fruit had been gathered. While the presence of the leaves incontestably proved the advance of the tree to the state in which fruit is found.

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