VIDEO La plimbare pe Muntele Maslinilor – MOUNT of Olives

Photo credit www.biblewalks.com

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

Vezi si – La plimbare prin Ierusalimul Vechi aici

Muntele Maslinilor, locul unde:

  • Domnul Isus mergea (se retragea) cand era in Ierusalim (Luca 22:39) După ce a ieşit afară, S’a dus, ca de obicei, în muntele Măslinilor. Ucenicii Lui au mers după El.
  • Isus a mers de doua ori pe Muntele Maslinilor in ultima saptamana inainte de moartea si invierea Sa. Marti, cand a rostit pildele din Matei 24:1-25:46. In paralela se gasesc pildele si in Marcu 13:1-37 si in Luca 21:5-36. A doua oara, a mers sa se roage in gradina Ghetimani (pe Muntele Maslinilor) in seara cand a fost vandut de Iuda.
  • Isus s-a inaltat la cer de pe Muntele Maslinilor. Faptele Apostolilor 1:9-12
  • Isus se va reintoarce pe Muntele Maslinilor. Scrie in Zaharia 14:4 – 4 Picioarele Lui vor sta în ziua aceea pe muntele Măslinilor, care este în faţa Ierusalimului, spre răsărit; muntele Măslinilor se va despica la mijloc, spre răsărit şi spre apus, şi se va face o vale foarte mare: jumătate din munte se va trage înapoi spre miază noapte, iar jumătate spre miazăzi. In anul 1964 s-a construit un hotel pe Muntele Maslinilor, la excavari au aflat ca pe mijlocul muntelui exista o falie sau paraclaza, care reprezintă o ruptură apărută în scoarța Pământului si care cauzeaza cutremure.

Dr. David Reagan: Welcome to the land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. I have come here to the city of Jerusalem to explore 4 mountains; 3 of them are important in biblical history and in Bible prophecy. The 4th is important because of what is situated on it. The 4 mountains are: The Mount of Olives, The Temple Mount, Mount Zion, ad Mount Hertzel. I want to point out right here at the beginning that these mountains we’re gonna be taking a look at are really not mountains by american standards. We would call them hills. But in the Bible, they are referred to as mountains. And, you know, they really are, when you consider the fact that they are high hills here in Israel, and Israel really only has one true mountain by american standards. That’s Mt. Hermon, which is located on the far north, on the border with Syria.

The first mountain we are going to take a look at is the Mount of Olives, and the best place where we can get a good view of it is from the Eastern Gate of the Old City.

2:00 – Well, here we are, at the Eastern Gate, sometimes referred to as the Beautiful Gate or the Golden Gate. It was a gate that was used for ceremonial purposes by priests, during the time of Jesus. As you can see, there’s a cemetery here in front of the gate. It’s a moslem cemetery that was placed here for a very definite reason, but we’ll talk more about that when we focus on the Temple Mount. For now, our subject is the Mount of Olives. Directly below me is a deep ravine, called The Kidron Valley. This valley runs North and South. and it separates the Old City of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, which is located to the east of the city. This is the mount from which Jesus ascended into heaven. It is also the place that the Bible says He will return to. At the base of the mount is the Church of All Nations, also called the Church of the Agony. It is located at the traditional site of the Garden of Ghetsemane…. On the top of the mountain, we see the Hotel of the Seven Arches. When it was built, in 1964, it was discovered that a major geological faultline lies beneath it. That is significant, because the Book of Zechariah says in chapter 14, that when the Messiah returns to the Mount of Olives, it will split in half when His feet touch the ground.

The Mount of Olives runs North and South along the Kidron Valley. It’s a ridge mountain. And when you reach Hebrew University, where you see that tall spire, the name of the mountain changes to Mt. Scopus. It is where Titus and his legions camped, while they destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Let’s go now to an observation site on the Mount of Olives.(4:10 min. mark)

VIDEO by ChristInProphecy

Question: „What happened on the Mount of Olives?”

Answer: Jesus made many visits to the Mount of Olives (Luke 21:37). In fact, it was “usual” for Him to go there when in the vicinity of Jerusalem (Luke 22:39). The Bible records two visits to the Mount of Olives, both in the last week of Jesus’ life, in which something of significance happened. The first visit was to deliver what has come to be known as the Olivet Discourse, recorded in Matthew 24:1—25:46. Parallel passages are found in Mark 13:1–37and Luke 21:5–36. The second visit was on the night He was betrayed. That evening began with the Last Supper and ended in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives.

The content of the Olivet Discourse is Jesus’ response to His disciples’ question “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). The content of what Jesus taught in Matthew 24–25 primarily refers to the future tribulation period and the second coming of Christ at the end of the tribulation. The Discourse includes parables about those who wait for the Master’s coming—the wise and faithful servant (Matthew 24:45-51), the five wise virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), and the good servant who uses his “talents” (money) wisely as he waits for the Master’s return (Matthew 25:14-30).

Jesus’ second visit to the Mount of Olives followed His last Passover meal with His disciples, in which He established the New Covenant and then revealed Judas as the one who would betray His master (John 13:1-30). At the conclusion of the meal, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26-29;1 Corinthians 11:23-26). After the meal, He took His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane, literally “oil-press,” located on a slope of the Mount of Olives just across the Kidron Valley from Jerusalem. There Jesus prayed in agony as He contemplated the day to come. So overcome by the horror of what He was to experience in the crucifixion the following day that God sent an angel from heaven to strengthen Him (Luke 22:43).

After this, Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, arrived with a “multitude” of soldiers, high priests, Pharisees, and servants to arrest Jesus. Judas identified Him by the prearranged signal of a kiss which he gave to Jesus. Trying to protect Jesus, Peter took a sword and attacked a man named Malthus, the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Jesus rebuked Peter and healed the man’s ear, displaying the miraculous power of God. Nevertheless, they arrested Him and took Him to Pontius Pilate, while the disciples scattered in fear for their lives.

The Mount of Olives is also mentioned in the Book of Zechariah. In a prophecy related to the end times, the Prophet Zechariah declared, „On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south” (Zechariah 14:4). This prophecy, related to the triumphant coming of the Messiah, connects to both of the above Mount of Olives passages. It connects with the Olivet Discourse in that both passages refer to the end times. It connects with the Garden of Gethsemane in that the very location where Jesus was betrayed and rejected will be the same location where Jesus returns triumphantly.

Read more:http://www.gotquestions.org/Mount-of-Olives

Palm Sunday 3/3 – Jesus Declares His Kingship

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

You can listen to the audio here from Desiring God, John Piper.

Matthew 21:1-17

When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, „Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. 3 „If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 „SAY TO THE DAUGHTER OF ZION, ‘BEHOLD YOUR KING IS COMING TO YOU, GENTLE, AND MOUNTED ON A DONKEY, EVEN ON A COLT, THE FOAL OF A BEAST OF BURDEN.'” 6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, 7 and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on the coats. 8 Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road. 9 The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, „Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!” 10 When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, „Who is this?” 11 And the crowds were saying, „This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.” 12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13 And He said to them, „It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” 14 And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, „Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant 16 and said to Him, „Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus said to them, „Yes; have you never read, ‘OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABIES YOU HAVE PREPARED PRAISE FOR YOURSELF’?” 17 And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

What I would like to do this morning is help you hear Jesus’ own declaration of his kingship. I want you to see from Matthew 21:1-17 how Jesus says, „I am your king.” And I would like to do it in a way that makes sure you see the nature of his kingship now and the different nature of his kingship when he comes a second time. And I want you to see and feel the difference because the nature of Jesus’ kingship now is creating a season of salvation in world history during which you can still switch sides and be saved from his wrath and judgment. There is still time – even now this morning – when you can accept the amnesty that King Jesus holds out to you, and renounce your allegiance to self and success and money and family and physical pleasure and security – and whatever else rules you more than Jesus. And you can bow and receive Christ as your King and swear allegiance to him, and be on his side with everlasting joy.

The Kingship of Jesus Will Look Different Than It Does Now

To help you feel the wonder of this brief season of salvation in world history – and yes I say brief, though it has lasted 2000 years; compared to how long we will exist in heaven or hell, it is very brief – to feel the wonder of this brief season of salvation in world history consider that the day is coming, and perhaps soon, when the kingship of Jesus will very different than it is now. Here is a description of that kingship, as John saw it in the last book of the Bible:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, „KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11-16)

When the kingship of Jesus appears in the skies like that, it will be too late to switch sides. „Behold, now is ‘the acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘the day of salvation'” (2 Corinthians 6:2). I believe that is what Matthew is trying to say to us this morning in the way Jesus proclaims his kingship in Matthew 21:1-17. What he wants us to hear – what Jesus wants us to see – is that, yes, he is king, yes his kingship is not provincial or tribal or national, but international and global and universal. But it is for now meek, lowly, welcoming, seeking, forgiving, patient. He will, in a matter of days, shed his own blood to save all who will accept his free gift of amnesty and come over to his side. And until he comes again this is the wonder of his kingship. It saves sinners.

So let’s watch him make this declaration. I just want you to see him. I want you to hear him. Rivet your attention on Jesus this morning. He will win you. He will heal you. He will save you.

There are four ways that Jesus declares his kingship in this triumphal entry. All of them are Jewish. He was a Jew, and he was fulfilling Jewish promises of a coming king and Messiah. But all them are bigger than Jewish. Remember this gospel is going to end in chapter 28 with the words, „All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:18-19). Jesus knows that he is the king over all nations, not just Israel.

So let’s listen and watch as he declares himself King of the Jews and King of the nations.

1. Jesus Declares His Kingship by Riding on a Donkey (Zech. 9:9)

First, notice Matthew 21:1-5. Jesus sends two of his disciples to get a donkey. Verse 2: „Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me.” Why? What is he doing? Why does he want a ride into Jerusalem on a donkey? Never before has he done such a thing. Matthew tells us why in verses 4-5, „This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: ‘Say to the daughter of Zion [that is, to Israel], „Behold your king is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”‘”

This is a quote from the prophet Zechariah (9:9). Jesus has chosen to act out the fulfillment of this prophecy and to declare his kingship in the action of riding on a donkey. This means, yes, I am king, for that’s what the prophet says it means: „Behold your king.” „But,” he is saying, „I am gentle and lowly. I am not, in my first coming, on a white war-horse with a sword and a rod of iron. I am not coming to slay you. I am coming to save you. This time. Today is the day of salvation.

But is he only coming for the „daughter of Zion,” Israel? Listen to the context in Zechariah 9:9-10 – and Jesus knew the context –

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; And the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; And His dominion [his kingship] will be from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.

That’s declaration number one. Jesus very intentionally acts out the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 and declares his humble, gentile, saving, Jewish and global kingship. And invites you to receive it.

2. Jesus Declares His Kingship by Cleansing the Temple (Isa. 56:7)

Second, in verses 12-13 Jesus acts out another Old Testament text. It says he „entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.” Don’t think that this meek, gentle, lowly Savior-King was without passion for his Father’s glory!

Then to explain what he is doing he quotes Isaiah 56:7. Verse 13: „And He said to them, ‘It is written, „My house shall be called a house of prayer;” but you are making it a robbers’ den.'” There are two things that make this action and this Old Testament quote so significant. One is that the context in Isaiah is about the coming kingdom of God, and so Jesus is putting himself in the position of the coming king. And the other is that the context is global, not just Jewish. Listen to Isaiah 56:6-8.

Also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord. . . 7 Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. . . . For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” 8 The Lord GOD, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, „Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered.”

So when Jesus chooses a prophetic word to interpret his action in the temple, he chooses one that underlines his coming on a donkey as king and the fact that his kingship is „for all the peoples.” It’s for you this morning. He is jealous to open his Father’s house to you for prayer.

3. Jesus Declares His Kingship by Healing (Isa. 35:4-6)

Third, in verse 14 it says, „And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.” Imagine what an impact this must have had. We are talking about the most public place in the city – the temple. We are talking about blind people, and people who can’t walk – lame, paralyzed people. Not people with headaches and sore throats. This was a public demonstration of something. What?

We’ve already been told at least once. When John the Baptist was in jail he sent and asked Jesus, „Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” In other words, are you the coming king of Israel, the Messiah? And Jesus sent this word back to John in Matthew 11:4-5, „Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk.” In other words, „Yes. I am the coming king.”

Why? Why does the healing of the blind and the lame in the temple after coming into Jerusalem on a donkey mean: I am the coming king? Because in Isaiah 35 the prophet describes the coming kingship of the Messiah like this: ” Take courage, fear not. . . . The recompense of God will come, But He will save you. Then the eyes of the blind will be opened. And . . . Then the lame will leap like a deer” (35:4-6).

Jesus comes on a donkey, lowly and gentle and patient; he comes cleansing his Father’s house to make it a house of prayer for all the nations; he comes healing the blind and the lame – all to show what his kingship is now in part, and will be fully in the age to come. It is not just a kingship over other kings, but over disease and all nature. We will not just be safe and sick when he comes. We will be safe and whole – absolutely whole. Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation. Trust him. Receive his amnesty. Become his subject.

4. Jesus Declares His Kingship by His Response to Children (Psa. 8)

Finally, Jesus declares his kingship by the way he responds to what the people and the children are doing and saying. In verse 8 the crowds are spreading their cloaks on the road in front of him. This is what they did when kings were crowned in the Old Testament (2 Kings 9:13). In verse 9 the crowds were shouting, „Hosanna [salvation!] to the Son of David [the hoped for king like David]; ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.'” (These are words from Psalm 118:25-26.)

Then in verse 15 the children were shouting the same things: „Hosanna to the Son of David.” In other words, „The king is here, the king is here!” But the chief priests became angry. So they said in verse 16, „Do You hear what these children are saying?” Now I think they could just as easily have said, „Did you hear what those crowds said? Did you see what they were doing when they put their cloaks on the ground?” They can’t believe Jesus is letting all this stand unchallenged.

Jesus answers their question with one simple word. And then an absolutely astonishing quote from Psalm 8. They say, „Do you hear what these children are saying?” And he answers in verse 16b, „Yes.” „Yes, I do. I not only hear it. I planned it. And I receive it. I would gladly receive it from you. And he would gladly receive it from us!”

Then, he ends this section by quoting Psalm 8, „Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself’?” What is so astonishing about this is that it refers to God. „O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! 2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength [or: praise] Because of Your adversaries.” Don’t miss this. Jesus receives the praises of little children and then explains it by quoting a psalm where children are praising God.

The King Has Come and Is Coming

So here is the concluding declaration and invitation: Jesus came the first time, and he is coming again, as the king over all kings. King of Israel, king of all the nations, king of nature and the universe. Until he comes again, there is a day of amnesty and forgiveness and patience. He still rides a donkey and not yet a white war-horse with a rod of iron. He is ready to save all who receive him as Savior and Treasure and King. Come to him. Know him. Receive him. Live your life in allegiance to him.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Tears of Sovereign Mercy – Palm Sunday 1/3

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

You can listen to the audio here from Desiring God, John Piper.

Luke 19:28-44

And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, „Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, „Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, „The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near – already on the way down the Mount of Olives – the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, „Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, „Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, „I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” 41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, „Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Before we get back to Romans 9 the Sunday after Easter, I wanted to preach a message that is partly an overflow of one of the books I worked on during the writing leave. (It will probably be called Don’t Waste Your Life.) Actually, this message is the overflow of more than the book.

  • It’s the overflow of conversations with John Erickson about his vision for ministry in the city.
  • It’s the overflow of conversations with my son Benjamin about what it means to be a merciful person on the street.
  • It’s the overflow of reading Timothy Keller’s book, Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road.
  • It’s the overflow of the seminar I did on Prayer, Meditation, and Fasting a few weeks ago, as I pondered what it really means to enjoy fellowship with Jesus and anticipate meeting him face to face very shortly and giving an account of the way I have thought, for example, about giving to people who ask for money. I remember, specifically, in one of those hours asking the class: Suppose you die and you’re standing before Jesus Christ, who surrendered his body to spitting and shame and torture and death so that undeserving sinners (like you and me) might be drawn into eternal joy, and he inquires how you handled the people who asked you for money – you know, panhandlers, beggars, street people, drunks, drifters. What would you say?I suggested to them, and I suggest to you now, you’re not going to feel very good about saying, „I never got taken advantage of. I saw through their schemes. I developed really shrewd counter-questions that would expose them. So I hardly ever had to give anything.” Do you know what I think the Lord Jesus is going to say to that – the Lord Jesus, the consummately, willingly, savingly abused and exploited Jesus? I think he is going to say, „That was an exquisite imitation of the world. Even sinners give to those who deserve to be given to. Even sinners pride themselves on not being taken advantage of.” Well this message is a spillover of some of those thoughts.
  • And it’s a spillover of a conversation that Noël and I had at Annie’s Parlor a little over a week ago as we assessed our lives how we wanted the next ten years to look – if God gives us ten – in regard to practical deeds mercy. What do we want Talitha to see in the city? What kind of Jesus do we want her to see living through us in Philips neighborhood on 11th Avenue? Do we want her to remember someday when we are gone: my folks were shrewd? Or do we want her to remember: My folks were merciful?

Palm Sunday: An Event of Insight and Misunderstanding

Well, that’s what led me to choose this text for Palm Sunday. It’s a Palm Sunday text. Palm Sunday is the day in the church year when traditionally we mark the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem for the last week of his life. It’s an event of great insight and great misunderstanding. The great insight was that this Jesus really is „the King who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 19:38). He was the Messiah, the Son of David, the long-awaited Ruler of Israel, the fulfillment of all God’s promises. But the great misunderstanding was that he would enter Jerusalem and by his mighty works, take his throne and make Israel free from Rome.

It wasn’t going to be that way: he would take his throne but it would be through voluntary suffering and death and resurrection. The first sermon Peter preached after the resurrection comes to an end with the words, „This Jesus God raised up” so that he was „exalted at the right hand of God” (Acts 2:32-33). And the apostle Paul says that he is now King: „He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25; see Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1).

So Palm Sunday was a day of insight and a day of misunderstanding. The insight gave joy, and the misunderstanding brought about destruction – the murder of Jesus a few days later, and the destruction of Jerusalem 40 years later. And Jesus saw it all coming.

And what I want to focus on this morning is Jesus’ response to this blindness and hostility that he was about to meet in Jerusalem. Indeed, he met it already in this very text. The crowds were crying out in verse 38, „Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” But in the very next verse it says, „Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples’” (Luke 19:39).

So Jesus knew what was about to happen. The Pharisees were going to get the upper hand. The people would be fickle and follow their leaders. And Jesus would be rejected and crucified. And within a generation the city would be obliterated. Look how Jesus says it in verses 43-44:

For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.

God had visited them in his Son, Jesus Christ – „he came to his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). They did not know the time of their visitation. So they stumbled over the stumbling stone. The builders rejected the stone and threw it away. Jesus saw this sin and this rebellion and this blindness coming. How did he respond? Verse 41-42: „And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.’” Jesus wept over the blindness and the impending misery of Jerusalem.

How would you describe these tears? You can see from the title of this message that I call them, „Palm Sunday Tears of Sovereign Mercy.” The effect that I pray this will have on us is, first, to make us admire Christ, and treasure him above all others and worship him as our merciful Sovereign; and, second, that seeing the beauty of his mercy, we become merciful with him and like him and because of him and for his glory.

Admiring Christ’s Merciful Sovereignty and Sovereign Mercy

First, then let’s admire Christ together. What makes Christ so admirable, and so different than all other persons – what sets him apart as unique and inimitable – matchless, peerless – is that he unites in himself so many qualities that in other people are contrary to each other. That’s why I put together the words „sovereign” and „merciful.” We can imagine supreme sovereignty, and we can imagine tenderhearted mercy. But who do we look to combine in perfect proportion merciful sovereignty and sovereign mercy? We look to Jesus. No other religious or political contender even comes close.

Look at three pointers in this text to his sovereignty. First, verse 37: „As he was drawing near – already on the way down the Mount of Olives – the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen.” Jesus had made a name for himself as the worker of miracles, and they remembered them. He had healed leprosy with a touch; he had made the blind see and the deaf hear and the lame walk; he had commanded the unclean spirits and they obeyed him; he had stilled storms and walked on water and turned five loaves and two fish into a meal for thousands. So as he entered Jerusalem, they knew nothing could stop him. He could just speak and Pilate would perish; the Romans would be scattered. He was sovereign.

Then look, secondly, at verse 38. The crowds cried out: „Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Jesus was a King, and not just any king, but the one sent and appointed by the Lord God. They knew how Isaiah had described him:

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” (Isaiah 9:7)

A universal, never-ending kingdom backed by the zeal of almighty God. Here was the King of the universe, who today rules over the nations and the galaxies, and for whom America and Iraq are a grain of sand and a vapor.

Third, verse 40. When the Pharisees tell him to make the people stop blessing him as a king, he answers, „I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out (Luke 19:40). Why? Because he will be praised! The whole design of the universe is that Christ be praised. And therefore, if people won’t do it, he will see to it that rocks do it. In other words, he is sovereign. He will get what he means to get. If we refuse to praise, the rocks will get the joy.

It is remarkable, therefore, that the tears of Jesus in verse 41 are so often used to deny his sovereignty. Someone will say, „Look, he weeps over Jerusalem because his design for them, his will for them, is not coming to pass. He would delight in their salvation. But they are resistant. They are going to reject him. They are going to hand him over to be crucified.” And so his purpose for them has failed. But there is something not quite right about this objection to Jesus’ sovereignty.

He can make praise come from rocks. And so he could do the same from rock-hard hearts in Jerusalem. What’s more, all this rejection and persecution and killing of Jesus is not the failure of Jesus’ plan, but the fulfillment of it. Listen to what he said in Luke 18:31-33 a short time before:

And taking the twelve, he said to them, „See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written [planned!] about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”

The betrayal, the mockery, the shame, the spit, the flogging, the murder – and so much more – was planned. In other words, the resistance, the rejection, the unbelief and hostility were not a surprise to Jesus. They were, in fact, part of the plan. He says so. This is probably why it says at the end of verse 42, „But now they are hidden from your eyes.” Remember what Jesus said about his parables back in Luke 8:10: „To you [disciples] it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’” God was handing them over to hardness. It was judgment.

We have seen all this in Romans 9. The mercy of God is a sovereign mercy. „I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Romans 9:15). But here is the point I want you to see today: This sovereign Christ weeps over heard-hearted, perishing Jerusalem as they fulfilled his plan. It is unbiblical and wrong to make the tears of mercy a contradiction to the serenity of sovereignty. Jesus was serene in sorrow, and sorrowful in sovereignty. Jesus’ tears are the tears of sovereign mercy.

And therefore his sovereign power is the more admirable and the more beautiful. It’s the harmony of things that seem in tension that makes him glorious: „Merciful and Mighty,” as we sing. We admire power more when it is merciful power. And we admire mercy more when it is mighty mercy. And, as I said, my prayer is that as you see his mercy and admire his mercy, you will become like him in his mercy.

There are at least three ways that Jesus is merciful, which we can draw out of this context. And I pray that I will become like him in all of these. I pray that you will too.

Jesus’ Mercy Is Tenderly Moved

First, Jesus’ mercy is tenderly moved. He feels the sorrow of the situation. This doesn’t mean his sovereign plan has wrecked on the rocks of human autonomy. It means that Jesus is more emotionally complex than we think he is. He really feels the sorrow of a situation. No doubt there is a deep inner peace that God is in control and that God’s wise purposes will come to pass. But that doesn’t mean you can’t cry.

In fact, on the contrary, I appeal to you here: pray that God would give you tears. There is so much pain in the world. So much suffering far from you and near you. Pray that God would help you be tenderly moved. When you die and stand before the Judge, Jesus Christ, and he asks you, „How did you feel about the suffering around you?” what will you say? I promise you, you will not feel good about saying, „I saw through to how a lot of people brought their suffering upon themselves by sin or foolishness.” You know what I think the Lord will say to that? I think he will say, „I didn’t ask you what you saw through. I asked you what you felt?” Jesus felt enough compassion for Jerusalem to weep. If you haven’t shed any tears for somebody’s losses but your own, it probably means you’re pretty wrapped up in yourself. So let’s repent of our hardness and ask God to give us a heart that is tenderly moved.

Jesus’ Mercy Was Self-Denying

Second, Jesus’ mercy was self-denying – not ultimately; there was great reward in the long run, but very painfully in the short run. This text is part of the story of Jesus’ moving intentionally toward suffering and death. Jesus is entering Jerusalem to die. He said so, „We are going up to Jerusalem . . . and the Son of Man will be delivered up . . . and they will kill him” (Luke 18:31-33). This is the meaning of self-denial. This is the way we follow Jesus. We see a need – for Jesus is was seeing the sin of the world, and broken bodies, and the misery of hell – and we move with Jesus, whatever it costs, toward need. We deny ourselves the comforts and the securities and the ease of avoiding other peoples’ pain. We embrace it. Jesus’ tears were not just the tender moving of his emotions. They were the tears of a man on his way toward need.

Jesus’ Mercy Intends to Help

That leads us to the third and last way Jesus is merciful. First, he is tenderly moved, second he is self-denying and moves toward need. Now third, he intends to help. Mercy if helpful. It doesn’t just feel – though it does feel – and it doesn’t just deny itself – though it does deny itself – it actually does things that help people. Jesus was dying in our place that we might be forgiven and have eternal life with him. That’s how he helped.

What will it be for you? How are you doing in ministries of mercy? How are you and your roommate, or your housemates, doing together? How is your family doing? (That’s what Noël and I asked at Annie’s Parlor.) What is tenderly moving you these days? Is there movement toward pain or suffering or misery or loss or sadness, that means denying yourself – in the short run – and multiplying your joy in the long run? And what help are you actually giving to those in need?

Two prayers: Oh, that we would see and savor the beauty of Christ – the Palm Sunday Tears of sovereign joy. And oh, that as we admire and worship him, we would be changed by what we see and become a more tenderly-moved, self-denying, need-meeting people.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

The Ascent of Joy by John Piper (on Jesus’ Ascension forty days after the Resurrection)

 

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

Luke 24:44-53

And Jesus said to them, „These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you that, everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures and said to them, „Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are my witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.”

And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.

In the book of Acts, which Luke writes to continue his account of Jesus’ work in history (by his Spirit), he says (1:1–3):

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and to teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God.

Therefore, we learn that the ascension of Jesus back to the right hand of God the Father occurred forty days after the resurrection. Had it been Easter 1981 when Jesus was raised from the dead, the ascension would have occurred last Friday, day before yesterday. And had we been among the disciples, we would now find ourselves waiting in Jerusalem for the outpouring of God’s Spirit which came about ten days later on Pentecost. Therefore, today I want to focus our attention on the ascension of Jesus, and next Sunday on the meaning of Pentecost.

Mai mult

La plimbare pe Muntele Maslinilor – VIDEO – MOUNT of Olives

Photo credit www.biblewalks.com

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

Vezi si – La plimbare prin Ierusalimul Vechi aici

Muntele Maslinilor, locul unde:

  • Domnul Isus mergea (se retragea) cand era in Ierusalim (Luca 22:39)  După ce a ieşit afară, S’a dus, ca de obicei, în muntele Măslinilor. Ucenicii Lui au mers după El.
  • Isus a mers de doua ori pe Muntele Maslinilor in ultima saptamana inainte de moartea si invierea Sa. Marti, cand a rostit pildele din Matei 24:1-25:46. In paralela se gasesc pildele si in Marcu 13:1-37 si in Luca 21:5-36. A doua oara, a mers sa se roage in gradina Ghetimani (pe Muntele Maslinilor) in seara cand a fost vandut de Iuda.
  • Isus s-a inaltat la cer de pe Muntele Maslinilor. Faptele Apostolilor 1:9-12
  • Isus se va reintoarce pe Muntele Maslinilor. Scrie in Zaharia 14:4 – Picioarele Lui vor sta în ziua aceea pe muntele Măslinilor, care este în faţa Ierusalimului, spre răsărit; muntele Măslinilor se va despica la mijloc, spre răsărit şi spre apus, şi se va face o vale foarte mare: jumătate din munte se va trage înapoi spre miază noapte, iar jumătate spre miazăzi. In anul 1964 s-a construit un hotel pe Muntele Maslinilor, la excavari au aflat ca pe mijlocul muntelui exista o falie sau paraclaza, care  reprezintă o ruptură apărută în scoarța Pământului si care cauzeaza cutremure.

Dr. David Reagan: Welcome to the land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. I have come here to the city of Jerusalem to explore 4 mountains; 3 of them are important in biblical history and in Bible prophecy. The 4th is important because of what is situated on it. The 4 mountains are: The Mount of Olives, The Temple Mount, Mount Zion, ad Mount Hertzel. I want to point out right here at the beginning that these mountains we’re gonna be taking a look at are really not mountains by american standards. We would call them hills. But in the Bible, they are referred to as mountains. And, you know, they really are, when you consider the fact that they are high hills here in Israel, and Israel really only has one true mountain by american standards. That’s Mt. Hermon, which is located on the far north, on the border with Syria.

The first mountain we are going to take a look at is the Mount of Olives, and the best place where we can get a good view of it is from the Eastern Gate of the Old City.

2:00 – Well, here we are, at the Eastern Gate, sometimes referred to as the Beautiful Gate or the Golden Gate. It was a gate that was used for ceremonial purposes by priests, during the time of Jesus. As you can see, there’s a cemetery here in front of the gate. It’s a moslem cemetery that was placed here for a very definite reason, but we’ll talk more about that when we focus on the Temple Mount. For now, our subject is the Mount of Olives. Directly below me is a deep ravine, called The Kidron Valley. This valley runs North and South.  and it separates the Old City of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, which is located to the east of the city. This is the mount from which Jesus ascended into heaven. It is also the place that the Bible says He will return to. At the base of the mount is the Church of All Nations, also called the Church of the Agony. It is located at the traditional site of the Garden of Ghetsemane…. On the top of the mountain, we see the Hotel of the Seven Arches. When it was built, in 1964, it was discovered that a major geological faultline lies beneath it.  That is significant, because the Book of Zechariah says in chapter 14, that when the Messiah returns to the Mount of Olives, it will split in half when His feet touch the ground.

The Mount of Olives runs North and South along the Kidron Valley. It’s a ridge mountain. And when you reach Hebrew University, where you see that tall spire, the name of the mountain changes to Mt. Scopus. It is where Titus and his legions camped, while they destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Let’s go now to an observation site on the Mount of Olives.(4:10 min. mark)

VIDEO by ChristInProphecy

Question: „What happened on the Mount of Olives?”

Answer: Jesus made many visits to the Mount of Olives (Luke 21:37). In fact, it was “usual” for Him to go there when in the vicinity of Jerusalem (Luke 22:39). The Bible records two visits to the Mount of Olives, both in the last week of Jesus’ life, in which something of significance happened. The first visit was to deliver what has come to be known as the Olivet Discourse, recorded in Matthew 24:1—25:46. Parallel passages are found in Mark 13:1–37and Luke 21:5–36. The second visit was on the night He was betrayed. That evening began with the Last Supper and ended in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives.

The content of the Olivet Discourse is Jesus’ response to His disciples’ question “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). The content of what Jesus taught in Matthew 24–25 primarily refers to the future tribulation period and the second coming of Christ at the end of the tribulation. The Discourse includes parables about those who wait for the Master’s coming—the wise and faithful servant (Matthew 24:45-51), the five wise virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), and the good servant who uses his “talents” (money) wisely as he waits for the Master’s return (Matthew 25:14-30).

Jesus’ second visit to the Mount of Olives followed His last Passover meal with His disciples, in which He established the New Covenant and then revealed Judas as the one who would betray His master (John 13:1-30). At the conclusion of the meal, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26-29;1 Corinthians 11:23-26). After the meal, He took His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane, literally “oil-press,” located on a slope of the Mount of Olives just across the Kidron Valley from Jerusalem. There Jesus prayed in agony as He contemplated the day to come. So overcome by the horror of what He was to experience in the crucifixion the following day that God sent an angel from heaven to strengthen Him (Luke 22:43).

After this, Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, arrived with a “multitude” of soldiers, high priests, Pharisees, and servants to arrest Jesus. Judas identified Him by the prearranged signal of a kiss which he gave to Jesus. Trying to protect Jesus, Peter took a sword and attacked a man named Malthus, the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Jesus rebuked Peter and healed the man’s ear, displaying the miraculous power of God. Nevertheless, they arrested Him and took Him to Pontius Pilate, while the disciples scattered in fear for their lives.

The Mount of Olives is also mentioned in the Book of Zechariah. In a prophecy related to the end times, the Prophet Zechariah declared, „On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south” (Zechariah 14:4). This prophecy, related to the triumphant coming of the Messiah, connects to both of the above Mount of Olives passages. It connects with the Olivet Discourse in that both passages refer to the end times. It connects with the Garden of Gethsemane in that the very location where Jesus was betrayed and rejected will be the same location where Jesus returns triumphantly.

Read more:http://www.gotquestions.org/Mount-of-Olives

Passion Week – Tuesday – Olivet Discourse

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian (pentru tot articolul).

Saptamana Mare – Ce s-a intamplat Marti.
~~~In drum inapoi spre Ierusalim, ucenicii vad ca smochinul blestemat s-a uscat. (Matei 21 si Marcu 11)
~~~Autoritatea lui Isus este contestata de preoti la Templu
~~~Matei 22
Pilde care ne invata despre venirea Domnului
~~~Matei 23
Vai de voi cărturari şi farisei ipocriţi!
~~~Olivet discourse – Isus invata pe Muntele Maslinilor
Luca 21 & Matei 25 vorbeste despre revenirea Lui
Pilda fecioarelor, pilda talantilor, si judecata finala

  1. On the way back to Jerusalem in the morning the disciples see the withered fig tree.
  2. In Jerusalem there are more temple controversies, and then Jesus delivers the Olivet Discourse on the return back to Bethany.

„Olivet Discourse” is a name given to 4 special chapters in the Bible. It includes Matthew 24th-25th, Mark 13th and Luke 21st chapters. In all of these chapters Jesus speaks about the „End-Times” which will come upon humanity. Jesus gave these messages to the apostles while they were upon the Mount of Olives, hence the name: Olivet Discourse.

A study by Hampton Keathley IV at Bible.org

Introduction

You must be aware that these are probably the most debated parables in the Bible. Many of the books and journal articles and articles on the internet that I read said all the characters in these parables were believers. Instead of seeing that these are parables about salvation, they see them as parables about rewards or loss of rewards. It is the same argument that we dealt with a few weeks ago in our discussion of the marriage feast and the outer darkness.

Because of the context and because the punishment for the unfaithful is so severe, I see them as all dealing with salvation issues. But rewards are also taught.

These are extremely difficult parables to interpret. I’m tempted to just tell you what I think they mean and ignore all the other views, but I think it is good for you to hear the other interpretations and do your own wrestling with the details.

Context of Matthew 25

Olivet discourse – events of tribulation leading up to 2nd coming.

In Matt 24:36 Jesus begins to answer the question of when He will be returning.

It will be just like in Noah’s day when people didn’t believe Noah and were surprised when it started raining. In the same way, even when people are in the tribulation, experiencing the wrath of God, many are still not going to believe.

So, the when it says „two will be in the field, and one will be taken…” the one taken will be taken to judgment. And the appearance of the thief in the next section is to judge the unbelieving. They didn’t believe the thief was coming. They didn’t believe that God was coming to hold them accountable.

I think that this theme of judging the unbelieving is continued in these next four parables. Although the text doesn’t use the word believe, those that get judged all have actions that indicate they didn’t believe. And their judgment is severe: they get cut to pieces, locked outside, sent to the outer darkness, etc.

And in each parable those who are judged are contrasted to others who not only believed, but were prepared, faithful, fruitful, etc. And those got rewarded for their faithfulness.

We talked about it a couple weeks ago, but this is what some call „Matthew’s rejection imagery.” He always mixes rewards for some with eternal damnation for others, like it all happens at the same event. It sort of makes you wonder if perhaps it does? But then that would make us amillennial or something like that.

Anyway, I want to give you the plot up front. Because I’m going to be discussing other views mixed with my views (notice I didn’t say „the correct view”), I think it might be helpful to have the „Big Idea” in your heads as we study the parables.

These parables are designed to teach the immanent return of Christ. It could be real soon, or it could be a long time away. But either way, we need to go ahead and live our lives but stay prepared. We need to live and work like the master is going to be back any minute. Because we are going to be rewarded for how hard we worked while he was gone.

Wise and Evil Slaves contrasted

Matthew 24:45-51 also in Luke 12:41-48

Some say because these are slaves, they are both saved. And some say that there is only one slave in the parable. The slave starts off being faithful, but then changes later in life and becomes an unfaithful, evil slave. Dillow makes a big deal out of the word „that” in vs 48 saying that it proves that this is the same slave. And since the slave was once very faithful, he must now just be carnal. Since he was saved, he still is saved, but just carnal or unfaithful, he does not go to hell. He just loses rewards and is very sad.

But, concerning the idea that „since they are both slaves, they are both saved” – In all of Jesus’ parables he contrasts two or three people with the same social status. How else is he going to create tension and contrast? He always uses slaves and sons because God is the Master of all. Slaves and sons are the natural examples to represent this relationship between God and man. The idea behind all these parables is that humans have an equal opportunity to respond, believe, etc. Some do, and some don’t. And here’s what’s going to happen to them.

Concerning the idea that this is one slave who changes. The phrase „if that slave” does refer back to this hypothetical slave. This is not a story about a slave who later in life started backsliding. Jesus is just giving an example.

Jesus is saying: Let’s take a slave… If that slave does this… he will be rewarded. However, if that slave does this… he will be cut into pieces.

He is a wise slave if he believes and anticipates master’s return and faithfully carries out the master’s orders. If he does this, he will be rewarded.

He is an evil slave if he doesn’t believe his master will return.

If the slave takes no note of the coming return and deludes himself into thinking either it will never happen or that he will have time to reform, he will be severely punished. It says he will be cut to pieces.

I believe “cut off” may be a better translation because in Qumran literature this word is used for excommunication and being cut off from the rest of the group. And I think the idea of separation fits better with the context – the punishment that all the bad guys receive in this string of parables is separation from God. Either way, it is severe punishment. Perhaps too severe for a believer?

Application:

This represents a universal principle. If a person doesn’t really believe that there is a God who will hold them accountable when they die, they aren’t very likely to feel a need to “trust” in God or obey his commandments.

I’ve also heard of people who believed that there was a God and he would hold them accountable, but they didn’t want to change their lifestyle and figured they would just „get religion” later. This parable speaks to them too. You never know when God will return or if you will die in a car wreck tomorrow.

We also see the result is a lifestyle that is abusive (beat his fellow slaves) and destructive (eat and drink with drunkards.)

Speaking of „beating his fellow slaves.” Some say because he beat his fellow slaves then he must be saved because they were his fellow slaves. My question is „who else is a slave going to beat?” Free men? If he is going to be abusive to his fellow man, it has got to be another slave. We can’t read into this „a salvation relationship with God” because of his association with other slaves. Just like we can’t read into the passage that because we have two slaves, we have two saved people in view.

Ten Virgins

This is a much debated parable. No one can agree what anything means.

“Virgins” – Some say that they are called “virgins” to emphasize their purity and that this means all ten were Christians (Dillow). Most say they represent people in the tribulation.

“Lamps” People argue whether these were little bowl lamps or torches. Then they argue about what the lamps represent. Some think the lamps and their light represent knowledge. Stedman says the ladies each had light to start with. Which would equate to people having a certain degree of knowledge about the Lord’s return. But for five of them, that knowledge was just academic. It really hadn’t gripped them.

Others think the lamps represents works which are the believer’s „light” or testimony to the world.

The light was supplied by the oil, and therefore it was absolutely essential that they have an adequate supply of oil, otherwise their light would go out. So what does the oil represent.

“Oil” – Some say it is the Holy Spirit (Walvoord, Stedman), some say it is works, others say it is faith.

Here is an example of the type of reasoning you run across when reading the commentators.

In verse 3 we have one of the major interpretive problems of the parable. What does the olive-oil represent? There is a quick answer that suggest that the olive-oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. However that interpretation must be resisted because the Holy Spirit is a gift and cannot be bought. The instructions to go and buy some more would make no sense at all in the case of the Holy Spirit. I think the answer must be found in seeing that the oil is only important when it is set on fire. In other words when it is giving light. The symbol of light rather than oil helps us because then we realize that Jesus is talking about the good works of the believer which he/she does before men which constitutes them the light of the world. The foolish virgins had no oil therefore they had no works with which to greet the bride-groom.1

His argument against this being the Holy Spirit because you can’t buy the Holy Spirit doesn’t make any sense. You can’t buy works or faith either. So that is no argument. It is a good example of one’s conclusion driving his reasons. When I come across a paragraph like that, it makes me want to stop reading the rest of the paper because I question the validity of any of his arguments.

If you think the oil is works, then you have to decide if the five foolish ladies were saved or not. If they were not saved, then the lack of works proved that they were not saved (lordship view). And not getting into the banquet is the same as not getting into heaven.

If you think the ladies were saved, then you will say that the ladies didn’t get any rewards. And that the banquet represents rewards or reigning with Christ (Free Grace view).

Some say that the foolish virgins had oil to start with (Dillow) and so had faith and so were saved. But others argue that that is not necessarily so (Walvoord). It says they rose, trimmed their lamps and lit them. But since they did not have oil in them, they immediately went out. So, it is more probable that they didn’t have any oil to start with.

What do I think?

Because this parable starts off with “the kingdom of heaven is like…” I think it is a salvation parable. Matthew uses this phrase eleven times and in the other parables where this phrase is used, the parables are about salvation and getting into the kingdom of heaven. Maybe I should say that out of these eleven parables. They are clearly about salvation or debated. None are clearly not about salvation.

The term virgins is not significant. The idea is just that they were young unmarried ladies. The term “virgin” was often used that way. Perhaps bridesmaids would be a better term.

Five are prepared – have their own oil. Five are unprepared – couldn’t borrow oil. I think that the symbolism is that you can’t get into heaven with someone else’s faith.

Banquet imagery to an Israelite is a reference to kingdom with God and His bride, Israel. This is not the Bema and wedding feast with Christ and Church. Remember the context is judgment at the 2nd coming, not the rapture.

The five were left outside (never made it in banquet hall as in Matt 22). So if you go to Matt 22 and make a big deal about the fact that the guy without wedding clothes made it into the banquet and was therefore saved, then those that argue that the virgins are saved (to be consistent with their interpretation of Matt 22) have to reconcile the fact that here they didn’t get in.

The Lord didn’t know them – cf. Matt 7:21 which is the same statement and those clearly do not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Once the door was closed, it was too late to enter. Those who are shut out miss not simply a fine meal, but also the kingdom itself. Similar imagery to Luke 13:22–29 which talks about the narrow door, not being known by the Lord, banquet imagery and weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Application:

Where the last parable taught that the Lord could return sooner than expected, this one teaches that there may be quite a delay before the Lord returns. We know that in fact there has been. It’s been almost 2,000 years so far. Both the wise and foolish virgins slept. But they are not condemned for it. Perhaps the point is that we need to go ahead and live our lives. Not sell everything and go wait on the mountain top for the Lord’s return.The main point of the parable is that even if it might be a long time before the Lord returns, don’t wait until the last minute to get prepared, because you never know when that last minute will be and you may miss out.

And I think preparation is faith.

Talents

Another Kingdom of heaven is like parable – “it is like” refers back to 25:1 – Some try to say this is different because 25:14 doesn’t say “kingdom,” but the “it” has to have an antecedent. What else are you going to link the “it” to?

Big debate is whether or not the slaves represent saved people or not. Some try to argue that since they were all slaves, they were all saved. We’ve already dealt with that assumption.

But, there is a big contrast going on between the first two slaves and the third slave. The third slave did not know the master. He thought he understood what was required of him, but he was wrong. Maybe it is like the person who thinks he will get into heaven for being mostly good.

When confronted by the master, this wicked slave argued beligerantly and attempted to make his laziness a necessity and a virtue. By defaming the master, portraying him as one who enriched himself by exploiting others, he attempted to excuse his own actions. When I read his response, my thought is this: There may be shame at the Bema seat when Christ reveals our deeds, but not defiance. Does this sound like a Christian at the Bema seat? Does it sound like he “knows” the Master? Therefore, I have difficulty thinking that this third slave is saved.

This man seems to have given in to some cunning reasoning. It is much like the thinking of Judas Iscariot when he sold his Lord. Judas reasoned, if He is really the Messiah, my betrayal will not hurt anything and I will get my money from the High Priest. If He is not the Messiah, then at least I get the money. This one-talent man reasoned somewhat the same way. His lord was going on a far journey. If the servant put the money in the bank, he would have to register it in his lord’s name. Then when his lord did not come back, his heirs could claim it. He reasoned, however, that if be buried it in the backyard, there would be no record. If his master did not come back, the servant would have it for himself. If he does come back, he could not accuse him of dishonesty because he could produce the talent. It was a cunning that was built upon uncertainty that the Lord was returning. He just did not believe that his lord was coming back. If he had, he would have handled the money differently. This is what the lord meant when be said that he was a wicked servant.2

The mixture of rewards and judgment – fits Matthew’s rejection imagery. He usually globs these together like an OT prophet did when looking at the 1st and 2nd advents of Christ. Also, the Bible talks about rewards and loss of rewards (1 Cor 3:15) at Bema, not rewards and judgment. So, I think we must be careful not to say that, because some got rewards, we are at the Bema and all were saved, and the third guy just lost rewards. I think his punishment is too severe.

The description of the servant’s attitude suggests something qualitatively different from the other two servants found faithful. There is a definite contrast going on here. The works are indicative of the relationship with the master. The third slave had no works which in the gospels is the same as having no faith.

Free grace people balk at this statement because Lordship people think the logical conclusion is that one has to have good works to prove that he is saved. In the gospels we do have statements like when Jesus says, “Why do you call me Lord and do not do what I say?” But when we read Paul we get in to issues such as carnality, getting to heaven as though through fire, etc. So we know that works don’t always follow. But when we are dealing with parables, we need to let them use their terminology.

Sheep and Goats

We see the Son of Man coming in glory with his angels. This is the second coming, not the rapture.

Judgment results in entrance to heaven or being sent to hell.

The rejection of the goats was not based on what they did, but on what they failed to do. It was a sin of omission toward “the least of these” (cf. the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19–31). God abhors not simply the performing of sinful acts but also the omission of deeds. Failure to do good is in fact to do evil. In addition the free gift of grace (as represented in Matt 20:1–16) has to be reconciled with the role of works (as here in 25:31–46 {Matt 25}). The works are the fruit that demonstrates the reality of the conversion of one’s heart. The love shown by these deeds of mercy springs from true faith. As Walvoord affirms, “What is presented here is not the basis or ground of salvation but the evidence of it…. Accordingly, while works are not the ground of justification for salvation, they can be the fruit or evidence of it.”

Since our section started off with judgment resulting in hell and Since it is clear from this parable that they are judged by their works and sent to hell for not having the works – which represent faith – why do people have such a difficult time believing that the parables in between say the same basic thing?

Summary

In summary several points are worth highlighting.

First, in each parable the judgment occurs at the consummation of this age. While the timing of that event is unknown, each follower is to be ready for and anticipate the coming kingdom.

Second, the essential nature of the judgment is soteriological. The judgment will render decisions that are eternal in nature, reflecting the status of each human being with regard to his or her eternal relationship to the kingdom. Phrases such as “the darkness outside,” the “fiery furnace,” and “weeping and gnashing of teeth” describe eternal separation from the kingdom. They are not simply expressions of grief over a Christian life that did not count for much in the kingdom, for they are figures and phrases representing an eternal exclusion from the presence of God. With this in view, it has been suggested that salvation in these parables is viewed as a “whole,” not simply as a point of entry. The “sons of the kingdom” and the “sons of the evil one” (Matt 13:38) are on opposite sides of the soteriological divide. There is no room for purgatory, universalism, or a view that some may miss the heavenly “banquet” while yet retaining a right to entry into the kingdom (i.e. “salvation,” in Pauline terms). Those who are rejected are permanently excluded.

Third, the basis for this eternal judgment is the individual’s works. In some cases the emphasis is on faithfulness to a job assigned: perhaps in a picture of preparation for an event, or a picture of the fruit of the believer. But however it was pictured, works were the key to the judgment.

What complicates the problem is that the decision for rejection or acceptance is presented as a soteriological decision based on these works. Such a judgment is highlighted by the parables of the Wheat and the Tares (perhaps along with the Narrow Door and the Virgins) in which those who appear to fit into the proper categories do not do so (even when they think they do) since they were not properly prepared for the kingdom. Perhaps the clearest example is the parable of the Sheep and the Goats, in which eternal life and eternal perdition are the options meted out based on how people treated the followers of the Son of Man.

Works are not separated from the faith one exercises for entrance to the kingdom for works are evidence of that faith. A true change of heart will be reflected in a person’s life. A lack of that change is apparently enough to prevent entrance into the eschatological kingdom (the goats are prohibited from entrance because of their actions while the sheep are given entrance because of their works); but works are never ultimately separated from the faith of the individual, for it was also shown that works are not in themselves enough to impress the Son of Man positively in His role as judge (cf. Matt 7:21–23).

Paul wrote with different emphases in mind, focusing clearly on the entrance requirements into salvation, namely, justification by faith. While the Synoptics support the role of faith in establishing one’s relationship with God (usually in phrases such as “repent and believe the gospel”), they tend to emphasize the whole life of faith for the believer. In other words the life of a follower of Jesus is to be a constant exercise of faith in order to obey and please God. Paul clearly recognized this same truth, for he knew that something started by faith cannot be perfected by works (the burden of Galatians).

Conclusion

These parables are designed to teach the immanent return of Christ. It could be real soon, or it could be a long time away. But either way, we need to be go ahead and live our lives (sleep like the virgins did) but stay prepared. We need to live and work like the master is going to be back any minute (like the faithful servant did), because we are going to be rewarded for how hard we worked while he was gone (parable of talents).

c

D. Passion Week – Tuesday – Olivet Discourse

James Tissot painting Photo credit www.joyfulheart.com Jesus curses fig tree

  1. On the way back to Jerusalem in the morning the disciples see the withered fig tree.
  2. In Jerusalem there are more temple controversies, and then Jesus delivers the Olivet Discourse on the return back to Bethany.

„Olivet Discourse” is a name given to 4 special chapters in the Bible. It includes Matthew 24th-25th, Mark 13th and Luke 21st chapters. In all of these chapters Jesus speaks about the „End-Times” which will come upon humanity. Jesus gave these messages to the apostles while they were upon the Mount of Olives, hence the name: Olivet Discourse.

A study by Hampton Keathley IV at Bible.org

Introduction

You must be aware that these are probably the most debated parables in the Bible. Many of the books and journal articles and articles on the internet that I read said all the characters in these parables were believers. Instead of seeing that these are parables about salvation, they see them as parables about rewards or loss of rewards. It is the same argument that we dealt with a few weeks ago in our discussion of the marriage feast and the outer darkness.

Because of the context and because the punishment for the unfaithful is so severe, I see them as all dealing with salvation issues. But rewards are also taught.

These are extremely difficult parables to interpret. I’m tempted to just tell you what I think they mean and ignore all the other views, but I think it is good for you to hear the other interpretations and do your own wrestling with the details.

Context of Matthew 25

Olivet discourse – events of tribulation leading up to 2nd coming.

In Matt 24:36 Jesus begins to answer the question of when He will be returning.

It will be just like in Noah’s day when people didn’t believe Noah and were surprised when it started raining. In the same way, even when people are in the tribulation, experiencing the wrath of God, many are still not going to believe.

So, the when it says „two will be in the field, and one will be taken…” the one taken will be taken to judgment. And the appearance of the thief in the next section is to judge the unbelieving. They didn’t believe the thief was coming. They didn’t believe that God was coming to hold them accountable.

I think that this theme of judging the unbelieving is continued in these next four parables. Although the text doesn’t use the word believe, those that get judged all have actions that indicate they didn’t believe. And their judgment is severe: they get cut to pieces, locked outside, sent to the outer darkness, etc.

And in each parable those who are judged are contrasted to others who not only believed, but were prepared, faithful, fruitful, etc. And those got rewarded for their faithfulness.

We talked about it a couple weeks ago, but this is what some call „Matthew’s rejection imagery.” He always mixes rewards for some with eternal damnation for others, like it all happens at the same event. It sort of makes you wonder if perhaps it does? But then that would make us amillennial or something like that.

Anyway, I want to give you the plot up front. Because I’m going to be discussing other views mixed with my views (notice I didn’t say „the correct view”), I think it might be helpful to have the „Big Idea” in your heads as we study the parables.

These parables are designed to teach the immanent return of Christ. It could be real soon, or it could be a long time away. But either way, we need to go ahead and live our lives but stay prepared. We need to live and work like the master is going to be back any minute. Because we are going to be rewarded for how hard we worked while he was gone.

Wise and Evil Slaves contrasted

Matthew 24:45-51 also in Luke 12:41-48

Some say because these are slaves, they are both saved. And some say that there is only one slave in the parable. The slave starts off being faithful, but then changes later in life and becomes an unfaithful, evil slave. Dillow makes a big deal out of the word „that” in vs 48 saying that it proves that this is the same slave. And since the slave was once very faithful, he must now just be carnal. Since he was saved, he still is saved, but just carnal or unfaithful, he does not go to hell. He just loses rewards and is very sad.

But, concerning the idea that „since they are both slaves, they are both saved” – In all of Jesus’ parables he contrasts two or three people with the same social status. How else is he going to create tension and contrast? He always uses slaves and sons because God is the Master of all. Slaves and sons are the natural examples to represent this relationship between God and man. The idea behind all these parables is that humans have an equal opportunity to respond, believe, etc. Some do, and some don’t. And here’s what’s going to happen to them.

Concerning the idea that this is one slave who changes. The phrase „if that slave” does refer back to this hypothetical slave. This is not a story about a slave who later in life started backsliding. Jesus is just giving an example.

Jesus is saying: Let’s take a slave… If that slave does this… he will be rewarded. However, if that slave does this… he will be cut into pieces.

He is a wise slave if he believes and anticipates master’s return and faithfully carries out the master’s orders. If he does this, he will be rewarded.

He is an evil slave if he doesn’t believe his master will return.

If the slave takes no note of the coming return and deludes himself into thinking either it will never happen or that he will have time to reform, he will be severely punished. It says he will be cut to pieces.

I believe “cut off” may be a better translation because in Qumran literature this word is used for excommunication and being cut off from the rest of the group. And I think the idea of separation fits better with the context – the punishment that all the bad guys receive in this string of parables is separation from God. Either way, it is severe punishment. Perhaps too severe for a believer?

Application:

This represents a universal principle. If a person doesn’t really believe that there is a God who will hold them accountable when they die, they aren’t very likely to feel a need to “trust” in God or obey his commandments.

I’ve also heard of people who believed that there was a God and he would hold them accountable, but they didn’t want to change their lifestyle and figured they would just „get religion” later. This parable speaks to them too. You never know when God will return or if you will die in a car wreck tomorrow.

We also see the result is a lifestyle that is abusive (beat his fellow slaves) and destructive (eat and drink with drunkards.)

Speaking of „beating his fellow slaves.” Some say because he beat his fellow slaves then he must be saved because they were his fellow slaves. My question is „who else is a slave going to beat?” Free men? If he is going to be abusive to his fellow man, it has got to be another slave. We can’t read into this „a salvation relationship with God” because of his association with other slaves. Just like we can’t read into the passage that because we have two slaves, we have two saved people in view.

Ten Virgins

This is a much debated parable. No one can agree what anything means.

“Virgins” – Some say that they are called “virgins” to emphasize their purity and that this means all ten were Christians (Dillow). Most say they represent people in the tribulation.

“Lamps” People argue whether these were little bowl lamps or torches. Then they argue about what the lamps represent. Some think the lamps and their light represent knowledge. Stedman says the ladies each had light to start with. Which would equate to people having a certain degree of knowledge about the Lord’s return. But for five of them, that knowledge was just academic. It really hadn’t gripped them.

Others think the lamps represents works which are the believer’s „light” or testimony to the world.

The light was supplied by the oil, and therefore it was absolutely essential that they have an adequate supply of oil, otherwise their light would go out. So what does the oil represent.

“Oil” – Some say it is the Holy Spirit (Walvoord, Stedman), some say it is works, others say it is faith.

Here is an example of the type of reasoning you run across when reading the commentators.

In verse 3 we have one of the major interpretive problems of the parable. What does the olive-oil represent? There is a quick answer that suggest that the olive-oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. However that interpretation must be resisted because the Holy Spirit is a gift and cannot be bought. The instructions to go and buy some more would make no sense at all in the case of the Holy Spirit. I think the answer must be found in seeing that the oil is only important when it is set on fire. In other words when it is giving light. The symbol of light rather than oil helps us because then we realize that Jesus is talking about the good works of the believer which he/she does before men which constitutes them the light of the world. The foolish virgins had no oil therefore they had no works with which to greet the bride-groom.1

His argument against this being the Holy Spirit because you can’t buy the Holy Spirit doesn’t make any sense. You can’t buy works or faith either. So that is no argument. It is a good example of one’s conclusion driving his reasons. When I come across a paragraph like that, it makes me want to stop reading the rest of the paper because I question the validity of any of his arguments.

If you think the oil is works, then you have to decide if the five foolish ladies were saved or not. If they were not saved, then the lack of works proved that they were not saved (lordship view). And not getting into the banquet is the same as not getting into heaven.

If you think the ladies were saved, then you will say that the ladies didn’t get any rewards. And that the banquet represents rewards or reigning with Christ (Free Grace view).

Some say that the foolish virgins had oil to start with (Dillow) and so had faith and so were saved. But others argue that that is not necessarily so (Walvoord). It says they rose, trimmed their lamps and lit them. But since they did not have oil in them, they immediately went out. So, it is more probable that they didn’t have any oil to start with.

What do I think?

Because this parable starts off with “the kingdom of heaven is like…” I think it is a salvation parable. Matthew uses this phrase eleven times and in the other parables where this phrase is used, the parables are about salvation and getting into the kingdom of heaven. Maybe I should say that out of these eleven parables. They are clearly about salvation or debated. None are clearly not about salvation.

The term virgins is not significant. The idea is just that they were young unmarried ladies. The term “virgin” was often used that way. Perhaps bridesmaids would be a better term.

Five are prepared – have their own oil. Five are unprepared – couldn’t borrow oil. I think that the symbolism is that you can’t get into heaven with someone else’s faith.

Banquet imagery to an Israelite is a reference to kingdom with God and His bride, Israel. This is not the Bema and wedding feast with Christ and Church. Remember the context is judgment at the 2nd coming, not the rapture.

The five were left outside (never made it in banquet hall as in Matt 22). So if you go to Matt 22 and make a big deal about the fact that the guy without wedding clothes made it into the banquet and was therefore saved, then those that argue that the virgins are saved (to be consistent with their interpretation of Matt 22) have to reconcile the fact that here they didn’t get in.

The Lord didn’t know them – cf. Matt 7:21 which is the same statement and those clearly do not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Once the door was closed, it was too late to enter. Those who are shut out miss not simply a fine meal, but also the kingdom itself. Similar imagery to Luke 13:22–29 which talks about the narrow door, not being known by the Lord, banquet imagery and weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Application:

Where the last parable taught that the Lord could return sooner than expected, this one teaches that there may be quite a delay before the Lord returns. We know that in fact there has been. It’s been almost 2,000 years so far. Both the wise and foolish virgins slept. But they are not condemned for it. Perhaps the point is that we need to go ahead and live our lives. Not sell everything and go wait on the mountain top for the Lord’s return.The main point of the parable is that even if it might be a long time before the Lord returns, don’t wait until the last minute to get prepared, because you never know when that last minute will be and you may miss out.

And I think preparation is faith.

Talents

Another Kingdom of heaven is like parable – “it is like” refers back to 25:1 – Some try to say this is different because 25:14 doesn’t say “kingdom,” but the “it” has to have an antecedent. What else are you going to link the “it” to?

Big debate is whether or not the slaves represent saved people or not. Some try to argue that since they were all slaves, they were all saved. We’ve already dealt with that assumption.

But, there is a big contrast going on between the first two slaves and the third slave. The third slave did not know the master. He thought he understood what was required of him, but he was wrong. Maybe it is like the person who thinks he will get into heaven for being mostly good.

When confronted by the master, this wicked slave argued beligerantly and attempted to make his laziness a necessity and a virtue. By defaming the master, portraying him as one who enriched himself by exploiting others, he attempted to excuse his own actions. When I read his response, my thought is this: There may be shame at the Bema seat when Christ reveals our deeds, but not defiance. Does this sound like a Christian at the Bema seat? Does it sound like he “knows” the Master? Therefore, I have difficulty thinking that this third slave is saved.

This man seems to have given in to some cunning reasoning. It is much like the thinking of Judas Iscariot when he sold his Lord. Judas reasoned, if He is really the Messiah, my betrayal will not hurt anything and I will get my money from the High Priest. If He is not the Messiah, then at least I get the money. This one-talent man reasoned somewhat the same way. His lord was going on a far journey. If the servant put the money in the bank, he would have to register it in his lord’s name. Then when his lord did not come back, his heirs could claim it. He reasoned, however, that if be buried it in the backyard, there would be no record. If his master did not come back, the servant would have it for himself. If he does come back, he could not accuse him of dishonesty because he could produce the talent. It was a cunning that was built upon uncertainty that the Lord was returning. He just did not believe that his lord was coming back. If he had, he would have handled the money differently. This is what the lord meant when be said that he was a wicked servant.2

The mixture of rewards and judgment – fits Matthew’s rejection imagery. He usually globs these together like an OT prophet did when looking at the 1st and 2nd advents of Christ. Also, the Bible talks about rewards and loss of rewards (1 Cor 3:15) at Bema, not rewards and judgment. So, I think we must be careful not to say that, because some got rewards, we are at the Bema and all were saved, and the third guy just lost rewards. I think his punishment is too severe.

The description of the servant’s attitude suggests something qualitatively different from the other two servants found faithful. There is a definite contrast going on here. The works are indicative of the relationship with the master. The third slave had no works which in the gospels is the same as having no faith.

Free grace people balk at this statement because Lordship people think the logical conclusion is that one has to have good works to prove that he is saved. In the gospels we do have statements like when Jesus says, “Why do you call me Lord and do not do what I say?” But when we read Paul we get in to issues such as carnality, getting to heaven as though through fire, etc. So we know that works don’t always follow. But when we are dealing with parables, we need to let them use their terminology.

Sheep and Goats

We see the Son of Man coming in glory with his angels. This is the second coming, not the rapture.

Judgment results in entrance to heaven or being sent to hell.

The rejection of the goats was not based on what they did, but on what they failed to do. It was a sin of omission toward “the least of these” (cf. the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19–31). God abhors not simply the performing of sinful acts but also the omission of deeds. Failure to do good is in fact to do evil. In addition the free gift of grace (as represented in Matt 20:1–16) has to be reconciled with the role of works (as here in 25:31–46 {Matt 25}). The works are the fruit that demonstrates the reality of the conversion of one’s heart. The love shown by these deeds of mercy springs from true faith. As Walvoord affirms, “What is presented here is not the basis or ground of salvation but the evidence of it…. Accordingly, while works are not the ground of justification for salvation, they can be the fruit or evidence of it.”

Since our section started off with judgment resulting in hell and Since it is clear from this parable that they are judged by their works and sent to hell for not having the works – which represent faith – why do people have such a difficult time believing that the parables in between say the same basic thing?

Summary

In summary several points are worth highlighting.

First, in each parable the judgment occurs at the consummation of this age. While the timing of that event is unknown, each follower is to be ready for and anticipate the coming kingdom.

Second, the essential nature of the judgment is soteriological. The judgment will render decisions that are eternal in nature, reflecting the status of each human being with regard to his or her eternal relationship to the kingdom. Phrases such as “the darkness outside,” the “fiery furnace,” and “weeping and gnashing of teeth” describe eternal separation from the kingdom. They are not simply expressions of grief over a Christian life that did not count for much in the kingdom, for they are figures and phrases representing an eternal exclusion from the presence of God. With this in view, it has been suggested that salvation in these parables is viewed as a “whole,” not simply as a point of entry. The “sons of the kingdom” and the “sons of the evil one” (Matt 13:38) are on opposite sides of the soteriological divide. There is no room for purgatory, universalism, or a view that some may miss the heavenly “banquet” while yet retaining a right to entry into the kingdom (i.e. “salvation,” in Pauline terms). Those who are rejected are permanently excluded.

Third, the basis for this eternal judgment is the individual’s works. In some cases the emphasis is on faithfulness to a job assigned: perhaps in a picture of preparation for an event, or a picture of the fruit of the believer. But however it was pictured, works were the key to the judgment.

What complicates the problem is that the decision for rejection or acceptance is presented as a soteriological decision based on these works. Such a judgment is highlighted by the parables of the Wheat and the Tares (perhaps along with the Narrow Door and the Virgins) in which those who appear to fit into the proper categories do not do so (even when they think they do) since they were not properly prepared for the kingdom. Perhaps the clearest example is the parable of the Sheep and the Goats, in which eternal life and eternal perdition are the options meted out based on how people treated the followers of the Son of Man.

Works are not separated from the faith one exercises for entrance to the kingdom for works are evidence of that faith. A true change of heart will be reflected in a person’s life. A lack of that change is apparently enough to prevent entrance into the eschatological kingdom (the goats are prohibited from entrance because of their actions while the sheep are given entrance because of their works); but works are never ultimately separated from the faith of the individual, for it was also shown that works are not in themselves enough to impress the Son of Man positively in His role as judge (cf. Matt 7:21–23).

Paul wrote with different emphases in mind, focusing clearly on the entrance requirements into salvation, namely, justification by faith. While the Synoptics support the role of faith in establishing one’s relationship with God (usually in phrases such as “repent and believe the gospel”), they tend to emphasize the whole life of faith for the believer. In other words the life of a follower of Jesus is to be a constant exercise of faith in order to obey and please God. Paul clearly recognized this same truth, for he knew that something started by faith cannot be perfected by works (the burden of Galatians).

Conclusion

These parables are designed to teach the immanent return of Christ. It could be real soon, or it could be a long time away. But either way, we need to be go ahead and live our lives (sleep like the virgins did) but stay prepared. We need to live and work like the master is going to be back any minute (like the faithful servant did), because we are going to be rewarded for how hard we worked while he was gone (parable of talents).

B. Palm Sunday – (3/3) Jesus Declares His Kingship

You can listen to the audio here from Desiring God, John Piper.

Matthew 21:1-17

When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, „Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. 3 „If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 „SAY TO THE DAUGHTER OF ZION, ‘BEHOLD YOUR KING IS COMING TO YOU, GENTLE, AND MOUNTED ON A DONKEY, EVEN ON A COLT, THE FOAL OF A BEAST OF BURDEN.'” 6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, 7 and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on the coats. 8 Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road. 9 The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, „Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!” 10 When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, „Who is this?” 11 And the crowds were saying, „This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.” 12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13 And He said to them, „It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” 14 And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, „Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant 16 and said to Him, „Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus said to them, „Yes; have you never read, ‘OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABIES YOU HAVE PREPARED PRAISE FOR YOURSELF’?” 17 And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

What I would like to do this morning is help you hear Jesus’ own declaration of his kingship. I want you to see from Matthew 21:1-17 how Jesus says, „I am your king.” And I would like to do it in a way that makes sure you see the nature of his kingship now and the different nature of his kingship when he comes a second time. And I want you to see and feel the difference because the nature of Jesus’ kingship now is creating a season of salvation in world history during which you can still switch sides and be saved from his wrath and judgment. There is still time – even now this morning – when you can accept the amnesty that King Jesus holds out to you, and renounce your allegiance to self and success and money and family and physical pleasure and security – and whatever else rules you more than Jesus. And you can bow and receive Christ as your King and swear allegiance to him, and be on his side with everlasting joy.

The Kingship of Jesus Will Look Different Than It Does Now

To help you feel the wonder of this brief season of salvation in world history – and yes I say brief, though it has lasted 2000 years; compared to how long we will exist in heaven or hell, it is very brief – to feel the wonder of this brief season of salvation in world history consider that the day is coming, and perhaps soon, when the kingship of Jesus will very different than it is now. Here is a description of that kingship, as John saw it in the last book of the Bible:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, „KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11-16)

When the kingship of Jesus appears in the skies like that, it will be too late to switch sides. „Behold, now is ‘the acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘the day of salvation'” (2 Corinthians 6:2). I believe that is what Matthew is trying to say to us this morning in the way Jesus proclaims his kingship in Matthew 21:1-17. What he wants us to hear – what Jesus wants us to see – is that, yes, he is king, yes his kingship is not provincial or tribal or national, but international and global and universal. But it is for now meek, lowly, welcoming, seeking, forgiving, patient. He will, in a matter of days, shed his own blood to save all who will accept his free gift of amnesty and come over to his side. And until he comes again this is the wonder of his kingship. It saves sinners.

So let’s watch him make this declaration. I just want you to see him. I want you to hear him. Rivet your attention on Jesus this morning. He will win you. He will heal you. He will save you.

There are four ways that Jesus declares his kingship in this triumphal entry. All of them are Jewish. He was a Jew, and he was fulfilling Jewish promises of a coming king and Messiah. But all them are bigger than Jewish. Remember this gospel is going to end in chapter 28 with the words, „All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:18-19). Jesus knows that he is the king over all nations, not just Israel.

So let’s listen and watch as he declares himself King of the Jews and King of the nations.

1. Jesus Declares His Kingship by Riding on a Donkey (Zech. 9:9)

First, notice Matthew 21:1-5. Jesus sends two of his disciples to get a donkey. Verse 2: „Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me.” Why? What is he doing? Why does he want a ride into Jerusalem on a donkey? Never before has he done such a thing. Matthew tells us why in verses 4-5, „This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: ‘Say to the daughter of Zion [that is, to Israel], „Behold your king is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”‘”

This is a quote from the prophet Zechariah (9:9). Jesus has chosen to act out the fulfillment of this prophecy and to declare his kingship in the action of riding on a donkey. This means, yes, I am king, for that’s what the prophet says it means: „Behold your king.” „But,” he is saying, „I am gentle and lowly. I am not, in my first coming, on a white war-horse with a sword and a rod of iron. I am not coming to slay you. I am coming to save you. This time. Today is the day of salvation.

But is he only coming for the „daughter of Zion,” Israel? Listen to the context in Zechariah 9:9-10 – and Jesus knew the context –

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; And the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; And His dominion [his kingship] will be from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.

That’s declaration number one. Jesus very intentionally acts out the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 and declares his humble, gentile, saving, Jewish and global kingship. And invites you to receive it.

2. Jesus Declares His Kingship by Cleansing the Temple (Isa. 56:7)

Second, in verses 12-13 Jesus acts out another Old Testament text. It says he „entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.” Don’t think that this meek, gentle, lowly Savior-King was without passion for his Father’s glory!

Then to explain what he is doing he quotes Isaiah 56:7. Verse 13: „And He said to them, ‘It is written, „My house shall be called a house of prayer;” but you are making it a robbers’ den.'” There are two things that make this action and this Old Testament quote so significant. One is that the context in Isaiah is about the coming kingdom of God, and so Jesus is putting himself in the position of the coming king. And the other is that the context is global, not just Jewish. Listen to Isaiah 56:6-8.

Also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord. . . 7 Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. . . . For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” 8 The Lord GOD, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, „Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered.”

So when Jesus chooses a prophetic word to interpret his action in the temple, he chooses one that underlines his coming on a donkey as king and the fact that his kingship is „for all the peoples.” It’s for you this morning. He is jealous to open his Father’s house to you for prayer.

3. Jesus Declares His Kingship by Healing (Isa. 35:4-6)

Third, in verse 14 it says, „And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.” Imagine what an impact this must have had. We are talking about the most public place in the city – the temple. We are talking about blind people, and people who can’t walk – lame, paralyzed people. Not people with headaches and sore throats. This was a public demonstration of something. What?

We’ve already been told at least once. When John the Baptist was in jail he sent and asked Jesus, „Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” In other words, are you the coming king of Israel, the Messiah? And Jesus sent this word back to John in Matthew 11:4-5, „Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk.” In other words, „Yes. I am the coming king.”

Why? Why does the healing of the blind and the lame in the temple after coming into Jerusalem on a donkey mean: I am the coming king? Because in Isaiah 35 the prophet describes the coming kingship of the Messiah like this: ” Take courage, fear not. . . . The recompense of God will come, But He will save you. Then the eyes of the blind will be opened. And . . . Then the lame will leap like a deer” (35:4-6).

Jesus comes on a donkey, lowly and gentle and patient; he comes cleansing his Father’s house to make it a house of prayer for all the nations; he comes healing the blind and the lame – all to show what his kingship is now in part, and will be fully in the age to come. It is not just a kingship over other kings, but over disease and all nature. We will not just be safe and sick when he comes. We will be safe and whole – absolutely whole. Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation. Trust him. Receive his amnesty. Become his subject.

4. Jesus Declares His Kingship by His Response to Children (Psa. 8)

Finally, Jesus declares his kingship by the way he responds to what the people and the children are doing and saying. In verse 8 the crowds are spreading their cloaks on the road in front of him. This is what they did when kings were crowned in the Old Testament (2 Kings 9:13). In verse 9 the crowds were shouting, „Hosanna [salvation!] to the Son of David [the hoped for king like David]; ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.'” (These are words from Psalm 118:25-26.)

Then in verse 15 the children were shouting the same things: „Hosanna to the Son of David.” In other words, „The king is here, the king is here!” But the chief priests became angry. So they said in verse 16, „Do You hear what these children are saying?” Now I think they could just as easily have said, „Did you hear what those crowds said? Did you see what they were doing when they put their cloaks on the ground?” They can’t believe Jesus is letting all this stand unchallenged.

Jesus answers their question with one simple word. And then an absolutely astonishing quote from Psalm 8. They say, „Do you hear what these children are saying?” And he answers in verse 16b, „Yes.” „Yes, I do. I not only hear it. I planned it. And I receive it. I would gladly receive it from you. And he would gladly receive it from us!”

Then, he ends this section by quoting Psalm 8, „Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself’?” What is so astonishing about this is that it refers to God. „O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! 2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength [or: praise] Because of Your adversaries.” Don’t miss this. Jesus receives the praises of little children and then explains it by quoting a psalm where children are praising God.

The King Has Come and Is Coming

So here is the concluding declaration and invitation: Jesus came the first time, and he is coming again, as the king over all kings. King of Israel, king of all the nations, king of nature and the universe. Until he comes again, there is a day of amnesty and forgiveness and patience. He still rides a donkey and not yet a white war-horse with a rod of iron. He is ready to save all who receive him as Savior and Treasure and King. Come to him. Know him. Receive him. Live your life in allegiance to him.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

B. Palm Sunday – (1/3) Tears of Sovereign Mercy

You can listen to the audio here from Desiring God, John Piper.

Luke 19:28-44

And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, „Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, „Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, „The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near – already on the way down the Mount of Olives – the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, „Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, „Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, „I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” 41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, „Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Before we get back to Romans 9 the Sunday after Easter, I wanted to preach a message that is partly an overflow of one of the books I worked on during the writing leave. (It will probably be called Don’t Waste Your Life.) Actually, this message is the overflow of more than the book.

  • It’s the overflow of conversations with John Erickson about his vision for ministry in the city.
  • It’s the overflow of conversations with my son Benjamin about what it means to be a merciful person on the street.
  • It’s the overflow of reading Timothy Keller’s book, Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road.
  • It’s the overflow of the seminar I did on Prayer, Meditation, and Fasting a few weeks ago, as I pondered what it really means to enjoy fellowship with Jesus and anticipate meeting him face to face very shortly and giving an account of the way I have thought, for example, about giving to people who ask for money. I remember, specifically, in one of those hours asking the class: Suppose you die and you’re standing before Jesus Christ, who surrendered his body to spitting and shame and torture and death so that undeserving sinners (like you and me) might be drawn into eternal joy, and he inquires how you handled the people who asked you for money – you know, panhandlers, beggars, street people, drunks, drifters. What would you say?I suggested to them, and I suggest to you now, you’re not going to feel very good about saying, „I never got taken advantage of. I saw through their schemes. I developed really shrewd counter-questions that would expose them. So I hardly ever had to give anything.” Do you know what I think the Lord Jesus is going to say to that – the Lord Jesus, the consummately, willingly, savingly abused and exploited Jesus? I think he is going to say, „That was an exquisite imitation of the world. Even sinners give to those who deserve to be given to. Even sinners pride themselves on not being taken advantage of.” Well this message is a spillover of some of those thoughts.
  • And it’s a spillover of a conversation that Noël and I had at Annie’s Parlor a little over a week ago as we assessed our lives how we wanted the next ten years to look – if God gives us ten – in regard to practical deeds mercy. What do we want Talitha to see in the city? What kind of Jesus do we want her to see living through us in Philips neighborhood on 11th Avenue? Do we want her to remember someday when we are gone: my folks were shrewd? Or do we want her to remember: My folks were merciful?

Palm Sunday: An Event of Insight and Misunderstanding

Well, that’s what led me to choose this text for Palm Sunday. It’s a Palm Sunday text. Palm Sunday is the day in the church year when traditionally we mark the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem for the last week of his life. It’s an event of great insight and great misunderstanding. The great insight was that this Jesus really is „the King who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 19:38). He was the Messiah, the Son of David, the long-awaited Ruler of Israel, the fulfillment of all God’s promises. But the great misunderstanding was that he would enter Jerusalem and by his mighty works, take his throne and make Israel free from Rome.

It wasn’t going to be that way: he would take his throne but it would be through voluntary suffering and death and resurrection. The first sermon Peter preached after the resurrection comes to an end with the words, „This Jesus God raised up” so that he was „exalted at the right hand of God” (Acts 2:32-33). And the apostle Paul says that he is now King: „He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25; see Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1).

So Palm Sunday was a day of insight and a day of misunderstanding. The insight gave joy, and the misunderstanding brought about destruction – the murder of Jesus a few days later, and the destruction of Jerusalem 40 years later. And Jesus saw it all coming.

And what I want to focus on this morning is Jesus’ response to this blindness and hostility that he was about to meet in Jerusalem. Indeed, he met it already in this very text. The crowds were crying out in verse 38, „Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” But in the very next verse it says, „Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples’” (Luke 19:39).

So Jesus knew what was about to happen. The Pharisees were going to get the upper hand. The people would be fickle and follow their leaders. And Jesus would be rejected and crucified. And within a generation the city would be obliterated. Look how Jesus says it in verses 43-44:

For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.

God had visited them in his Son, Jesus Christ – „he came to his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). They did not know the time of their visitation. So they stumbled over the stumbling stone. The builders rejected the stone and threw it away. Jesus saw this sin and this rebellion and this blindness coming. How did he respond? Verse 41-42: „And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.’” Jesus wept over the blindness and the impending misery of Jerusalem.

How would you describe these tears? You can see from the title of this message that I call them, „Palm Sunday Tears of Sovereign Mercy.” The effect that I pray this will have on us is, first, to make us admire Christ, and treasure him above all others and worship him as our merciful Sovereign; and, second, that seeing the beauty of his mercy, we become merciful with him and like him and because of him and for his glory. (Photo below via

Admiring Christ’s Merciful Sovereignty and Sovereign Mercy

First, then let’s admire Christ together. What makes Christ so admirable, and so different than all other persons – what sets him apart as unique and inimitable – matchless, peerless – is that he unites in himself so many qualities that in other people are contrary to each other. That’s why I put together the words „sovereign” and „merciful.” We can imagine supreme sovereignty, and we can imagine tenderhearted mercy. But who do we look to combine in perfect proportion merciful sovereignty and sovereign mercy? We look to Jesus. No other religious or political contender even comes close.

Look at three pointers in this text to his sovereignty. First, verse 37: „As he was drawing near – already on the way down the Mount of Olives – the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen.” Jesus had made a name for himself as the worker of miracles, and they remembered them. He had healed leprosy with a touch; he had made the blind see and the deaf hear and the lame walk; he had commanded the unclean spirits and they obeyed him; he had stilled storms and walked on water and turned five loaves and two fish into a meal for thousands. So as he entered Jerusalem, they knew nothing could stop him. He could just speak and Pilate would perish; the Romans would be scattered. He was sovereign.

Then look, secondly, at verse 38. The crowds cried out: „Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Jesus was a King, and not just any king, but the one sent and appointed by the Lord God. They knew how Isaiah had described him:

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” (Isaiah 9:7)

A universal, never-ending kingdom backed by the zeal of almighty God. Here was the King of the universe, who today rules over the nations and the galaxies, and for whom America and Iraq are a grain of sand and a vapor.

Third, verse 40. When the Pharisees tell him to make the people stop blessing him as a king, he answers, „I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out (Luke 19:40). Why? Because he will be praised! The whole design of the universe is that Christ be praised. And therefore, if people won’t do it, he will see to it that rocks do it. In other words, he is sovereign. He will get what he means to get. If we refuse to praise, the rocks will get the joy.

It is remarkable, therefore, that the tears of Jesus in verse 41 are so often used to deny his sovereignty. Someone will say, „Look, he weeps over Jerusalem because his design for them, his will for them, is not coming to pass. He would delight in their salvation. But they are resistant. They are going to reject him. They are going to hand him over to be crucified.” And so his purpose for them has failed. But there is something not quite right about this objection to Jesus’ sovereignty.

He can make praise come from rocks. And so he could do the same from rock-hard hearts in Jerusalem. What’s more, all this rejection and persecution and killing of Jesus is not the failure of Jesus’ plan, but the fulfillment of it. Listen to what he said in Luke 18:31-33 a short time before:

And taking the twelve, he said to them, „See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written [planned!] about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”

The betrayal, the mockery, the shame, the spit, the flogging, the murder – and so much more – was planned. In other words, the resistance, the rejection, the unbelief and hostility were not a surprise to Jesus. They were, in fact, part of the plan. He says so. This is probably why it says at the end of verse 42, „But now they are hidden from your eyes.” Remember what Jesus said about his parables back in Luke 8:10: „To you [disciples] it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’” God was handing them over to hardness. It was judgment.

We have seen all this in Romans 9. The mercy of God is a sovereign mercy. „I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Romans 9:15). But here is the point I want you to see today: This sovereign Christ weeps over heard-hearted, perishing Jerusalem as they fulfilled his plan. It is unbiblical and wrong to make the tears of mercy a contradiction to the serenity of sovereignty. Jesus was serene in sorrow, and sorrowful in sovereignty. Jesus’ tears are the tears of sovereign mercy.

And therefore his sovereign power is the more admirable and the more beautiful. It’s the harmony of things that seem in tension that makes him glorious: „Merciful and Mighty,” as we sing. We admire power more when it is merciful power. And we admire mercy more when it is mighty mercy. And, as I said, my prayer is that as you see his mercy and admire his mercy, you will become like him in his mercy.

There are at least three ways that Jesus is merciful, which we can draw out of this context. And I pray that I will become like him in all of these. I pray that you will too.

Jesus’ Mercy Is Tenderly Moved

First, Jesus’ mercy is tenderly moved. He feels the sorrow of the situation. This doesn’t mean his sovereign plan has wrecked on the rocks of human autonomy. It means that Jesus is more emotionally complex than we think he is. He really feels the sorrow of a situation. No doubt there is a deep inner peace that God is in control and that God’s wise purposes will come to pass. But that doesn’t mean you can’t cry.

In fact, on the contrary, I appeal to you here: pray that God would give you tears. There is so much pain in the world. So much suffering far from you and near you. Pray that God would help you be tenderly moved. When you die and stand before the Judge, Jesus Christ, and he asks you, „How did you feel about the suffering around you?” what will you say? I promise you, you will not feel good about saying, „I saw through to how a lot of people brought their suffering upon themselves by sin or foolishness.” You know what I think the Lord will say to that? I think he will say, „I didn’t ask you what you saw through. I asked you what you felt?” Jesus felt enough compassion for Jerusalem to weep. If you haven’t shed any tears for somebody’s losses but your own, it probably means you’re pretty wrapped up in yourself. So let’s repent of our hardness and ask God to give us a heart that is tenderly moved.

Jesus’ Mercy Was Self-Denying

Second, Jesus’ mercy was self-denying – not ultimately; there was great reward in the long run, but very painfully in the short run. This text is part of the story of Jesus’ moving intentionally toward suffering and death. Jesus is entering Jerusalem to die. He said so, „We are going up to Jerusalem . . . and the Son of Man will be delivered up . . . and they will kill him” (Luke 18:31-33). This is the meaning of self-denial. This is the way we follow Jesus. We see a need – for Jesus is was seeing the sin of the world, and broken bodies, and the misery of hell – and we move with Jesus, whatever it costs, toward need. We deny ourselves the comforts and the securities and the ease of avoiding other peoples’ pain. We embrace it. Jesus’ tears were not just the tender moving of his emotions. They were the tears of a man on his way toward need.

Jesus’ Mercy Intends to Help

That leads us to the third and last way Jesus is merciful. First, he is tenderly moved, second he is self-denying and moves toward need. Now third, he intends to help. Mercy if helpful. It doesn’t just feel – though it does feel – and it doesn’t just deny itself – though it does deny itself – it actually does things that help people. Jesus was dying in our place that we might be forgiven and have eternal life with him. That’s how he helped.

What will it be for you? How are you doing in ministries of mercy? How are you and your roommate, or your housemates, doing together? How is your family doing? (That’s what Noël and I asked at Annie’s Parlor.) What is tenderly moving you these days? Is there movement toward pain or suffering or misery or loss or sadness, that means denying yourself – in the short run – and multiplying your joy in the long run? And what help are you actually giving to those in need?

Two prayers: Oh, that we would see and savor the beauty of Christ – the Palm Sunday Tears of sovereign joy. And oh, that as we admire and worship him, we would be changed by what we see and become a more tenderly-moved, self-denying, need-meeting people.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

B. Palm Sunday (3) Jesus Declares His Kingship

You can listen to the audio here from Desiring God, John Piper.

Matthew 21:1-17

When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, „Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. 3 „If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 „SAY TO THE DAUGHTER OF ZION, ‘BEHOLD YOUR KING IS COMING TO YOU, GENTLE, AND MOUNTED ON A DONKEY, EVEN ON A COLT, THE FOAL OF A BEAST OF BURDEN.'” 6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, 7 and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on the coats. 8 Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road. 9 The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, „Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!” 10 When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, „Who is this?” 11 And the crowds were saying, „This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.” 12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13 And He said to them, „It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” 14 And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, „Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant 16 and said to Him, „Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus said to them, „Yes; have you never read, ‘OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABIES YOU HAVE PREPARED PRAISE FOR YOURSELF’?” 17 And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

What I would like to do this morning is help you hear Jesus’ own declaration of his kingship. I want you to see from Matthew 21:1-17 how Jesus says, „I am your king.” And I would like to do it in a way that makes sure you see the nature of his kingship now and the different nature of his kingship when he comes a second time. And I want you to see and feel the difference because the nature of Jesus’ kingship now is creating a season of salvation in world history during which you can still switch sides and be saved from his wrath and judgment. There is still time – even now this morning – when you can accept the amnesty that King Jesus holds out to you, and renounce your allegiance to self and success and money and family and physical pleasure and security – and whatever else rules you more than Jesus. And you can bow and receive Christ as your King and swear allegiance to him, and be on his side with everlasting joy.

The Kingship of Jesus Will Look Different Than It Does Now

To help you feel the wonder of this brief season of salvation in world history – and yes I say brief, though it has lasted 2000 years; compared to how long we will exist in heaven or hell, it is very brief – to feel the wonder of this brief season of salvation in world history consider that the day is coming, and perhaps soon, when the kingship of Jesus will very different than it is now. Here is a description of that kingship, as John saw it in the last book of the Bible:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, „KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11-16)

When the kingship of Jesus appears in the skies like that, it will be too late to switch sides. „Behold, now is ‘the acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘the day of salvation'” (2 Corinthians 6:2). I believe that is what Matthew is trying to say to us this morning in the way Jesus proclaims his kingship in Matthew 21:1-17. What he wants us to hear – what Jesus wants us to see – is that, yes, he is king, yes his kingship is not provincial or tribal or national, but international and global and universal. But it is for now meek, lowly, welcoming, seeking, forgiving, patient. He will, in a matter of days, shed his own blood to save all who will accept his free gift of amnesty and come over to his side. And until he comes again this is the wonder of his kingship. It saves sinners.

So let’s watch him make this declaration. I just want you to see him. I want you to hear him. Rivet your attention on Jesus this morning. He will win you. He will heal you. He will save you.

There are four ways that Jesus declares his kingship in this triumphal entry. All of them are Jewish. He was a Jew, and he was fulfilling Jewish promises of a coming king and Messiah. But all them are bigger than Jewish. Remember this gospel is going to end in chapter 28 with the words, „All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:18-19). Jesus knows that he is the king over all nations, not just Israel.

So let’s listen and watch as he declares himself King of the Jews and King of the nations.

1. Jesus Declares His Kingship by Riding on a Donkey (Zech. 9:9)

First, notice Matthew 21:1-5. Jesus sends two of his disciples to get a donkey. Verse 2: „Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me.” Why? What is he doing? Why does he want a ride into Jerusalem on a donkey? Never before has he done such a thing. Matthew tells us why in verses 4-5, „This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: ‘Say to the daughter of Zion [that is, to Israel], „Behold your king is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”‘”

This is a quote from the prophet Zechariah (9:9). Jesus has chosen to act out the fulfillment of this prophecy and to declare his kingship in the action of riding on a donkey. This means, yes, I am king, for that’s what the prophet says it means: „Behold your king.” „But,” he is saying, „I am gentle and lowly. I am not, in my first coming, on a white war-horse with a sword and a rod of iron. I am not coming to slay you. I am coming to save you. This time. Today is the day of salvation.

But is he only coming for the „daughter of Zion,” Israel? Listen to the context in Zechariah 9:9-10 – and Jesus knew the context –

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; And the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; And His dominion [his kingship] will be from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.

That’s declaration number one. Jesus very intentionally acts out the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 and declares his humble, gentile, saving, Jewish and global kingship. And invites you to receive it.

2. Jesus Declares His Kingship by Cleansing the Temple (Isa. 56:7)

Second, in verses 12-13 Jesus acts out another Old Testament text. It says he „entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.” Don’t think that this meek, gentle, lowly Savior-King was without passion for his Father’s glory!

Then to explain what he is doing he quotes Isaiah 56:7. Verse 13: „And He said to them, ‘It is written, „My house shall be called a house of prayer;” but you are making it a robbers’ den.'” There are two things that make this action and this Old Testament quote so significant. One is that the context in Isaiah is about the coming kingdom of God, and so Jesus is putting himself in the position of the coming king. And the other is that the context is global, not just Jewish. Listen to Isaiah 56:6-8.

Also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord. . . 7 Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. . . . For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” 8 The Lord GOD, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, „Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered.”

So when Jesus chooses a prophetic word to interpret his action in the temple, he chooses one that underlines his coming on a donkey as king and the fact that his kingship is „for all the peoples.” It’s for you this morning. He is jealous to open his Father’s house to you for prayer.

3. Jesus Declares His Kingship by Healing (Isa. 35:4-6)

Third, in verse 14 it says, „And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.” Imagine what an impact this must have had. We are talking about the most public place in the city – the temple. We are talking about blind people, and people who can’t walk – lame, paralyzed people. Not people with headaches and sore throats. This was a public demonstration of something. What?

We’ve already been told at least once. When John the Baptist was in jail he sent and asked Jesus, „Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” In other words, are you the coming king of Israel, the Messiah? And Jesus sent this word back to John in Matthew 11:4-5, „Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk.” In other words, „Yes. I am the coming king.”

Why? Why does the healing of the blind and the lame in the temple after coming into Jerusalem on a donkey mean: I am the coming king? Because in Isaiah 35 the prophet describes the coming kingship of the Messiah like this: ” Take courage, fear not. . . . The recompense of God will come, But He will save you. Then the eyes of the blind will be opened. And . . . Then the lame will leap like a deer” (35:4-6).

Jesus comes on a donkey, lowly and gentle and patient; he comes cleansing his Father’s house to make it a house of prayer for all the nations; he comes healing the blind and the lame – all to show what his kingship is now in part, and will be fully in the age to come. It is not just a kingship over other kings, but over disease and all nature. We will not just be safe and sick when he comes. We will be safe and whole – absolutely whole. Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation. Trust him. Receive his amnesty. Become his subject.

4. Jesus Declares His Kingship by His Response to Children (Psa. 8)

Finally, Jesus declares his kingship by the way he responds to what the people and the children are doing and saying. In verse 8 the crowds are spreading their cloaks on the road in front of him. This is what they did when kings were crowned in the Old Testament (2 Kings 9:13). In verse 9 the crowds were shouting, „Hosanna [salvation!] to the Son of David [the hoped for king like David]; ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.'” (These are words from Psalm 118:25-26.)

Then in verse 15 the children were shouting the same things: „Hosanna to the Son of David.” In other words, „The king is here, the king is here!” But the chief priests became angry. So they said in verse 16, „Do You hear what these children are saying?” Now I think they could just as easily have said, „Did you hear what those crowds said? Did you see what they were doing when they put their cloaks on the ground?” They can’t believe Jesus is letting all this stand unchallenged.

Jesus answers their question with one simple word. And then an absolutely astonishing quote from Psalm 8. They say, „Do you hear what these children are saying?” And he answers in verse 16b, „Yes.” „Yes, I do. I not only hear it. I planned it. And I receive it. I would gladly receive it from you. And he would gladly receive it from us!”

Then, he ends this section by quoting Psalm 8, „Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself’?” What is so astonishing about this is that it refers to God. „O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! 2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength [or: praise] Because of Your adversaries.” Don’t miss this. Jesus receives the praises of little children and then explains it by quoting a psalm where children are praising God.

The King Has Come and Is Coming

So here is the concluding declaration and invitation: Jesus came the first time, and he is coming again, as the king over all kings. King of Israel, king of all the nations, king of nature and the universe. Until he comes again, there is a day of amnesty and forgiveness and patience. He still rides a donkey and not yet a white war-horse with a rod of iron. He is ready to save all who receive him as Savior and Treasure and King. Come to him. Know him. Receive him. Live your life in allegiance to him.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

The Ascent of Joy by John Piper (on Jesus’ Ascension forty days after the Resurrection)

You can listen to the sermon audio from  DesiringGod.org. –The Ascent of Joy.

Luke 24:44-53

And Jesus said to them, „These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you that, everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures and said to them, „Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are my witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.”

And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.

In the book of Acts, which Luke writes to continue his account of Jesus’ work in history (by his Spirit), he says (1:1–3):

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and to teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God.

Therefore, we learn that the ascension of Jesus back to the right hand of God the Father occurred forty days after the resurrection. Had it been Easter 1981 when Jesus was raised from the dead, the ascension would have occurred last Friday, day before yesterday. And had we been among the disciples, we would now find ourselves waiting in Jerusalem for the outpouring of God’s Spirit which came about ten days later on Pentecost. Therefore, today I want to focus our attention on the ascension of Jesus, and next Sunday on the meaning of Pentecost.

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