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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem – John 12:12-19 – Part 1

          Jesus will now journey to Jerusalem with His disciples. He leaves Bethany, the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, in route to Jerusalem. He stops at Bethpage at the Mount of Olives where He tells two of His disciples to go to a place and get a donkey colt upon which He will ride into Jerusalem. Why would Jesus ride into Jerusalem on a donkey colt? The answer is to fulfill Zechariah 9:9. “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! See, your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” When studying the words and works of Jesus, we must understand that He is fulfilling scripture in all that He does and says. Why? Matthew 5:17 gives us the answer in Jesus’ own words. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” To fulfill means “to complete.” Jesus’ mission was not to destroy the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them perfectly so He could usher in grace and truth. Jesus is the “new” way to the Father. Since Jesus is Truth/Word, He must fulfill all truth. Since God who is perfect gave the Law to the Israelites, it would have to be fulfilled by a Perfect Israelite – Jesus. Therefore, Jesus had to come in the flesh through the Jews. We are not to exalt the fact that He was a Jew in the flesh, but that He is God in the flesh. Many Jews would know Zechariah’s prophecy of the coming Messiah because they were schooled in the Older Testament scriptures. Therefore, they hailed Jesus as King. Zechariah’s prophetic proclamation showed that Israel would be protected by her coming King. That King would be righteous and have salvation.
            The timetable of Jesus’ journey into Jerusalem also fulfills the requirements of the Passover lamb that is to be slain for the sin of every Jewish household. Jesus arrived at Bethany on the 8th day of Nissan – 6 days before Passover. On the 10th day of Nissan, He entered Jerusalem. According to the Law, the sacrificial lamb of atonement must be examined, tested and proved to be without spot or blemish between the 10th and 14th of Nissan. Before Jesus was crucified and died for the sins of the whole world, Jesus was tried, tested and was without spot or blemish. He is sinless. Who tested Him? Before Jesus was crucified, He had three trials to test if He was guilty of sin against God and man. He went before Caiaphas, the high priest. He went before Pilate who refused to crucify Jesus saying, “I find no basis for a charge against Him.” Then He went before the chief priests and their officials who shouted, “Crucify Him!” (see John 19:6) The spotless One was tried and tested by man and found guilty. Jesus knew He was going to the cross before the foundation of the world. Soon Jesus will be God’s sacrificial Passover Lamb without blemish who will die for not only for the sins of Israel but for the whole world.

          Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, not on a horse as a conquering king, but as a humble servant who came to bring peace. A donkey in the Older Testament Law was considered an unclean animal that had to be redeemed by a Lamb. Exodus 34:20: Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. A donkey in scripture symbolizes a sinner (unclean).  Jesus, the firstborn and only Son of God, will be the Lamb of God who will redeem all unclean (sinners) fulfilling this scripture. Our humble King Jesus was prepared to die for all. Riding upon a donkey colt would not make Jesus look regal or powerful. The foreshadowing of this donkey ride is in the story of Abraham going to sacrifice his spiritual son Isaac on the altar of atonement on Mount Moriah. Isaac, father Abraham’s son, rode on a donkey before being put on the altar to be slain. Father Abraham, like God, was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac to atone for sin. God stayed Abraham’s hand as he was about to kill his son. Abraham said that “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” Genesis 22:8 God did – His Son Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the whole world. God’s promise to Abraham reached farther than just the Jews. God is no respecter of persons. Humanity was originally created in the image and likeness of the Godhead. The first Adam and the Woman were holy when God created them. God wants to restore humanity back to that holiness through the blood of His Precious Son whether Jew or Gentile.        
            Jesus told two of His disciples to go to get a donkey colt and bring it to Him. A colt would be unbroken – never ridden. An unridden colt might buck and refuse to go the way of the rider, but when Jesus got on the unbroken colt, it didn’t. Jesus used the “natural” to speak “spiritual” truths. A donkey in scripture symbolizes a sinner. When Jesus rides upon an unbroken sinner, He directs our path as we submit to His authority. The Good News of Jesus Christ is carried by sinners with childlike faith who are in the process of being refined by Jesus and the Word by the power of the Holy Spirit. Matthew says that Jesus told His disciples to bring both the donkey (older) and its colt (younger). The salvation of Jesus is for everyone – old and young.  Instead of the full-grown donkey, Jesus chose the colt to ride upon. Jesus works best with those with childlike faith. We are His children.
            The colt was tied to a doorway. Jesus told His disciples to untie it. In other words, set it free and bring it to Jesus. This is what disciples of Jesus are to do – bring people to Jesus for salvation and setting free from the bondage of sin and the devil. Jesus is the Door we must be tied to and go through for redemption and eternal life.
            No one had ever sat upon this colt. In other words, no human had sat upon it, only Jesus. This colt was set apart for Him. Jesus was conceived in the virgin womb of Mary that no flesh of man or seed of man had entered or touched. He was buried in a tomb that no human had been buried in. Why?  Jesus is holy. Though He came in the flesh, He remained holy – without sin.
            Jesus previously had left Jerusalem because the religious leaders were plotting to kill Him. Now Jesus wants everyone to clearly see and hear Him. He is doing everything openly. He was not going to fit the expectations of Israel who thought their coming king would come as a warrior in battle to set them free from the Romans. Instead Jesus rode into town on a donkey colt! His ministry on earth is about to be completed. He has taught the truth, gathered a harvest of disciples, healed, performed miracles and proclaimed His Kingdom. Soon He would die for the sins of the world and will have His “exodus” from Jerusalem to return to His Heavenly Father in the New Jerusalem in glory.  At  Passover the Jews celebrated their “exodus” from their bondage in Egypt and their journey to God’s Promised Land, Jesus’ death and resurrection will set us free from the bondage of sin, death and the devil and bring us to the Eternal Promised Land with the Father.
            Jesus wasn’t crucified for His truth and miracles. He was crucified because of His claim of equality with God, and His threat to the religious leaders’ power and authority.

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