The Final Week of Jesus -- Day 1
The Assemblies of God Center for Holy Lands Studies (CHLS) provides a regular column to AG News that offers deep and sometimes surprising insight into the Word of God through close examination of the culture of the day, biblical sites, and archaeological records. In this first of a series of eight articles that will run through Easter Week, Amy Flattery, director of CHLS, shares insights on Jesus' final week, beginning with The Triumphal Entry.
CONTEXT AND APPLICATION -- A PERSPECTIVE
CHLS uses a method of studying Scripture that involves several facets. When studying the biblical text in relations to the land of the Bible, we review the text in its original context, culture and language, historical surroundings, landscape and geography, and the spiritual climate of the time-period. We then ask the question: What was said and meant in the original context and how can we apply those stories, lessons, and events to our lives today?
I invite you to join us in using this approach to study the biblical text concerning the final week of Jesus’ life. This method reveals the indescribable care and love God has for us and challenges us to live better through the example given to us in the text. Though we do not endure the trials of Jesus, we would be amiss to ignore the example He set for us through His life.
As we examine the final week of His life over the Easter Week, we will see clearly that Jesus is our example to how we are to show love to one another and our Father in heaven.
THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY: THE CONTEXT
The triumphal entry commences with Jesus’ travel from Jericho up to Bethany near the Mount of Olives, a journey where Luke tells us of Jesus while passing through Jericho, healed two blind men and interacted with Zacchaeus (Luke 18 & 19), bringing salvation to him and his family.
Jesus then makes His way up to Bethany, a journey of nearly 17 winding miles from 600 feet below sea level and reaching an elevation of nearly 2,600 feet above sea level. While in Bethany Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44).
Through these series of miraculous events, the secrecy of Jesus’ messiahship was being lifted revealing His increasing clarity as the Messiah. It is likely these events also caused a large swell of people to accompany Him on His journey to Jerusalem.
It is important to note, Jesus already foretold his death twice, and a third time to the 12 disciples. “…And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day” (Matthew 20:18-19). The gravity of Jesus’ actions are clear, that even facing death, He took time to care for the individual, from healing the sick to transforming the heart to raising the dead.
As Jesus neared Jerusalem, He requested that a colt, never ridden, be brought to Him to take Him into the city. If they were questioned, those obtaining the colt were to say, “The Lord has need of it…” (Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19). It is plausible that the owners and others near Bethany may have recognized Jesus’ authority and lordship after knowing of His words and miracles that preceded him. Jesus' entrance on a colt was very symbolic, for a colt was ridden by rulers in times of peace and was especially suitable for sacred purposes (Expositor's Bible Commentary, 437). The text reveals that Jesus was showing His messiahship by entering on a colt, and a display of His character, for peace.
John speaks of crowds in anticipation converged from Jerusalem to meet Jesus. The crowds advancing to greet Jesus lends to the thought that Jesus indeed had a stopover in Bethany, allowing time for His miracles and news of His entrance to spread to the people already in Jerusalem. Those accompanying Jesus and those rallying to meet Him formed a procession of praise (439). But, their praise was based on their expectations of what the Messiah should do.
With little doubt, people were aquiver with the hope that Jesus was preparing to display messianic power, judge Israel’s enemies, and establish the glorious kingdom as the Old Testament promised. It was reasonable for the crowd, after hearing Jesus’ preaching and seeing His miracles, to ascribe messiahship to Him. However, it was more difficult for them to grasp the inevitability of His suffering and death and the expansion of the kingdom of God.
Jesus entered a city with people praising Him. “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!’” (Matthew 21:19). Hosanna was initially a cry for help, meaning “save,” and later became an invocation of blessing and adoration. “Son of David” is a messianic title and further contributes to the belief that the people expected Jesus to fill a kingly role, hoping that Jesus would be the Messiah to overthrow the Roman authorities.
To the people of His day, Jesus’ view of what the Messiah would do differed greatly from the crowd. The crowd wanted Him to be a political figure, to overthrow the Romans, and return Israel to the days of King David. The people could not imagine a Messiah that would come as a servant bringing fundamental salvation for a universal kingdom.
Jesus’ actions show love for everyone and love for our Father in heaven when He healed the sick, cared for the individual, and taught on those things that make for peace. Jesus was one who continually pointed exaltation, faith, hope, and trust to His Father in heaven. He exampled love for the poor and those who could not fend for themselves. He healed the sick and raised the dead. He cared for the individual. He went so far as to proclaim love for those who were His enemies. He spoke of loving God and loving your neighbor. Showing love to your neighbor, who is made in the image of God, invokes love for your Father in heaven. This is the Messiah we know. The one who peacefully entered Jerusalem on a colt with shouts of "Hosanna!" filling the ears of those in Jerusalem.
THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY: THE APPLICATION
As we apply the truths of this passage to our daily life, we must ask ourselves if our view of Jesus is biblical. In other words, “Who is Jesus to you?" Are your expectations of Jesus to bring Him glory and honor, or do you expect Him to fulfill your agenda? Do you serve to glorify Him or do you expect Him to give you a life that you feel you deserve?
True worship of the Messiah comes from praising Him in worship and also by loving our neighbor and our heavenly Father in tangible ways. Consider how you can bring healing and salvation to situations in your daily life. Consider how you can care for others and, in doing so, remember that you are expressing your love for our Heavenly Father. Consider how you can live in peace and bring peace to others. Following the example of Christ will bring glory to God.