Friday, March 28, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday March 30, 2014

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TRIUMPHANT AND VICTORIOUS
(Recognizing JESUS for who HE really is)
Matthew 21:1-11 & Zechariah 9:9

Matthew chapter 21 marks the beginning of the last week of JESUS’ physical life here on earth. Here the Apostle Matthew gives his own detailed account of the occasion when JESUS made HIS final triumphant entry into Jerusalem. It was the last leg of our LORD and SAVIOR’s incredible journey in route to HIS OWN crucifixion, by Roman method, on the cross at Golgotha.
With this well-planned entry, JESUS was, for the first time, clearly showing the world that HE was a king. However, by riding in on a donkey’s colt, HE was also clearly claiming to be a “King of Peace”. In those days when a king rode into town on a steed, he would be signaling that he came for war, and was clearly prepared to do physical battle with his enemy. However, when a king rode into town on a donkey, it was a clear signal that he was coming for peace.
This action by JESUS was in sharp contrast to what HIS followers were expecting, and was certainly not the climax to HIS ministry that they had hoped for. Here we see them greeting JESUS as “the SON of David”, the great warrior of old, who often came with fierce fighting, and perpetrated much physical damage upon his adversaries. In fact, this whole scenario that is presented by Matthew, suggests that this is a crowd who totally misunderstood the whole purpose of JESUS’ coming, and what HIS whole ministry was about.
The people of Jerusalem had long ago formed their opinion of what true “Kingship” should entail. Here in Matthew 21 the Jews are obviously thinking of kingship in terms of a much-anticipated “conquest” that had been spoken about since the days of the ancient prophets of Israel, even though neither Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9), nor Isaiah (Isaiah 62:11), is suggesting anything of that sort in their prophecies of JESUS’ final entry into Jerusalem. In fact, here in this passage, we can clearly see what their true expectations are, as it is something that is even suggested in their shouts of “Hosanna!” in verse 9.
Hosanna is the Hebrew word that translates into the phrase, “save us now!”. And so, here in this passage, the people’s welcome of JESUS was one not befitting a “king of love”, but rather, it is one befitting a “king of war”, or a conqueror, which had come to slay all of their enemies, and render them free of their physical oppression. However, much to the people’s dismay, JESUS was to once again, overturn their misguided expectations, and human thinking.
Zechariah prophesied circa 520 B.C., about 60 years after the end of the Babylonian’s destruction of Jerusalem. He prophesied to the Jews who had just returned from captivity in Babylon to rebuild the great temple which Solomon had built and dedicated before GOD in his glorious day.
At that time the prophet spoke about a future RULER and those times that would surround HIS first advent. This future KING would ride into Jerusalem meekly and gently upon a donkey’s colt, and HIS character and righteousness would be cause for great rejoicing, and would usher in an opportunity for salvation to all mankind.  
Whenever we begin to try and dictate how GOD will move to bless us, we are almost always setting ourselves up to be, either pleasantly surprised, or bitterly disappointed, and it is a virtual certainty that, we will, at the very least, have our expectations overturned. This is largely because our thoughts are not GOD’s thoughts, but rather, they are thoughts that are dictated by our physical, rather than spiritual experiences.
GOD is Spirit, and we, on the other hand, because of our accepted “sin nature” have long become accustomed to trying to satisfy our “fleshly” needs and desires, and therefore our thinking is often geared to whatever is the opposite of GOD (that which is physical). That is why it is so important, if we are to worship in spirit, and in truth, that we transform our hearts, or thoughts, into a condition that is more into conformance with GOD, and less in conformance with the world.
Kings who rule righteously follow GOD’s idea of what kingship should be. Although the king foreseen by Zechariah would truly be a conquering KING, this KING, WHO is JESUS, would, in HIS first advent, only offer peace and salvation to the nations of the world, and HIS kingdom would indeed encompass the whole world.
However, the book of Revelation warns us, that, all those who do not submit and conform themselves to the idea of this first coming, where JESUS shows up riding on a donkey, will ultimately be destroyed when HE returns riding on the great white steed, ready to pronounce judgment, and put an end to the evil forces that now spiritually govern this world.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander  





                                 
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