Inspiration: Heightened awareness
The Apostle John chose an interesting format in recording the works of Jesus. He begins with a strong affirmation of the eternal nature of Christ … “In the beginning was the Word …”
He then uses chapters two through 11 to record seven miraculous signs, each highlighting a unique characteristic and purpose. The first is turning water into wine. The last is raising a man back to life after four days.
Lazarus, a close, personal friend of Jesus, died of an illness and was summoned back to life at the command of Jesus Christ. This final recorded miracle took place in the weeks leading up to the feast of Passover.
To the leaders of the synagogue this was the last straw. The later portion of John chapter 11 describes in detail the plans developed by the Jewish leaders to silence this movement. The temple guards are placed on the highest alert. The High Priest entered into an arrangement with Judas to facilitate Jesus’ arrest away from the crowds. God’s eternal redemptive plan is about to come to fruition.
We live in a similar situation today. Unlike any time in recent history the media is highlighting current events that heighten our awareness of changes on the horizon.
Notable financial gurus are predicting a major correction in our stock market. And the world is abuzz with the news of the coming tetrad — the four blood moons! The first arrived in the wee hours this past Tuesday morning.
But awareness is pointless unless we are moved to action.
This week believers the world over are experiencing special observances during the week of the Passion building to its climax in the celebration of Resurrection Sunday.
This holy week began with the remembrance of Palm Sunday. It is named as such due to the initial response of the crowd to the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem on the Sunday prior to his crucifixion. Each of the gospel writers includes this event.
For the moment I would like to point your attention to the 19th chapter of Luke’s gospel and verses 28-44. I would like to highlight three distinct responses recorded in Luke’s Gospel.
The first response is that of cheers, the spontaneous response of the opportunists. We find this in verses 28-38. Jesus sends two of his disciples ahead of him to secure his transportation.
I was amazed a few years ago when I heard a well respected Bible teacher suggest that somehow in the hustle and bustle of the days preceding his entry into Jerusalem that Jesus found the time to meet with the owner of the colt and to arrange for its use.
Jesus did not prearrange, He foresaw the animal that the Heavenly Father had prepared for him. The prophet Zechariah declared this in Zechariah 9:9. The owner’s response was spontaneous as he willingly lent the animal when he understood that Jesus had requested it.
But what prompted the crowd to react as they did? First we see that they spread their cloaks on the road. This was a sign of surrender to the conquering king. The Redeemer had come to restore the glory to the throne of David. Both Matthew and Mark note that others cut branches from nearby trees to wave in the air in celebration. The scene reaches a climax as the disciples offer the messianic Psalm 118:26 in praise.
It is this that necessitates the second response, found in verse 39. Here we see jeers, the predictable response of antagonists. As a whole the Pharisees are opposed to the ministry of Jesus. But some of the Pharisees are secret followers of the Lord. Which ones are speaking in this text?
Our instincts tell us that it is the antagonistic ones. But I sense a bit of Pharisee in me. How often do I try to tone down the message of the gospel in an attempt to make it more palatable? Jesus neither rebukes nor condemns these Pharisees but simply acknowledges that his time has come and the declaration is appropriate.
This points to the final response as found in verses 41-44. Here we find tears, the essential response of the Savior. Just prior to the resurrection of Lazarus the Gospel of John records that Jesus wept.
Why would Jesus weep in the moments prior to a miracle? In this passage the motivation of Jesus is very clear. He is weeping over the lost sheep of Israel.
In days gone by I have had the opportunity to participate in a number of passion plays. One of the most confusing requirements of the cast is to cheer with abandonment during the Triumphal Entry and then to cry, “Crucify Him” only moments later.
I had thought that this “double duty” was simply the result of a small cast. As I have grown older I have come to recognize these varied responses to the arrival of Jesus into my situation. Sometimes I cheer when all seems to align with my expectations. At other times my response is more of a silent jeer as God’s will falls short of my expectations.
But how often am I brought to tears as our Savior was when He saw the rejection of the greatest gift? What brings tears to your eyes?