In Matthew 21, we see this strange scene where Jesus is entering Jerusalem as a king. The people are spreading out their cloaks, placing palm branches on the road, and treating him as someone would treat a king entering into Jerusalem. In fact, they are even declaring him to be the king, saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”Matthew 21:9
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
But what is he riding on? He is riding on a donkey! What kind of king rides on a donkey? This is weird…
And what is the first thing that he does? He goes to the temple courts to overthrow the money changers and drive out the vendors saying that his house is to be a house of prayer.
Wouldn’t it make more sense if he were to go to the seat of governmental power to overthrow the government? Isn’t this Messiah supposed to come to kick out the Romans and end the oppression of the Jewish people?
What kind of king is this Jesus supposed to be? A strange one, to say the least.
Just from these actions, Jesus is making it clear that Yes, he is a king, and the people have recognized him as such. But he isn’t the king that the people want him to be. He isn’t a king that has come to overthrow the Roman government. That isn’t the mission. That isn’t his plan.
There is an oppression that is much greater that the people have simply become used to. It is the oppression of rampant sin. It is the corruption of the heart that Jesus has come to overthrow. To call people out of darkness and into the light. To make those who are dead in their sins to come alive again.
But the people who are looking at this king with human eyes, not spiritual eyes, will not see what this king has come to do. That is the problem that they had when, upon entering Jerusalem, the people simply asked:
Who is this?Matthew 21:10
They don’t get it. They don’t get him. They don’t understand, because they don’t see him in the way that he intends for them to see him.
Last night, a friend of mine told me that he sees the same thing in the stories of the Bible that we see today. For example, we read the story of the rich young ruler and talked about how Jesus calls us to come to him, that he wants the entirety of our lives, but instead we want to give him a part and retain the rest for ourselves. Jesus told him that he needed to sell everything, give the money to the poor, and follow him. But the man went away sad because he wanted to keep his riches.
My friend said that he sees the same thing today, and I think that he is right. Despite all our knowledge, all of our technological advancement… Despite all of our perceived achievement, in our hearts, little has changed from what we see from the stories in the Bible. Our hearts have, in many ways, continued on just as they always have.
But we have an opportunity. We have an opportunity to see Jesus for who he intends to show himself to truly be. He desires to be both Lord and Savior. He not only saves us from our sins, but he commands our lives and draws us forward toward true obedience as a result of our love for him. Our obedience comes because we desire to please him and we find joy in being with him.
So we can have true joy in Christ if we see him and respond to him for whom he truly is. Let us make that choice and not continue to look at Jesus with human, fleshly eyes, but instead understand him with the depth of our hearts.