This week I am publishing a series of Easter devotionals
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Day One - Saturday March 28
The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked. And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” Matthew 21:10-11
There were 2.5 million people in Jerusalem and the surrounding area at Passover.
Chicago has about 2.5 million people in an area of 250 square miles. Jerusalem is 0.7 square miles. Imagine the entire population of Chicago in one of its parks.
It was a packed house.
And here is Jesus – usually eschewing attention – soaking it all up. He is the guy who tells people to be quiet about His identity and now look at what He is doing in grand and dramatic fashion . . .
Several hundred years earlier King Jehu rode into Samaria on people’s coats and cries of deliverance. He was on a mission to clean house and rescue true Judaism from the fraud it was becoming. Just a few hundred years earlier Judas Maccabeus kicked out the Greek forces who had barged their way into the temple and mocked it by sacrificing a pig on the altar. The people of Jerusalem would have recognized the iconic imagery of riding a donkey into Jerusalem from their history of leaders who came to save the day. Zechariah connects the dots with the picture of Messiah riding on a donkey. So well in fact that people are shouting “Hosanna” meaning “Save us now!”
Jesus could not have been any more overt in His claim to be the Messiah and that He was coming to save us . . . but from what?
Doubtless the crowd thought it was to save them from the current overlords the Romans. They had a nasty habit of enforcing their peace in brutal ways. Taxes were high and Roman soldiers routinely made sport of abusing the Jews and misusing their women.
But it wasn’t the brutes that Jesus was angry with. Jesus has His eye set on the religious. Who were Jesus' real enemies? It is not lost on the Gospel writers that the Jews welcome Jesus into Jerusalem with the cries of “save us” and then run him out of town to Golgotha with “Crucify him!” by the end of the week. That’s because it is easier to usher God into the midst of our fights with others but it is not so pleasant to have Him come in to do war with our heart.
“Save us” sounds so good if it means He does what I want Him to do. It is okay with me if God comes into the Jerusalem of my heart and agrees with me. I would love for God to ride into my soul and give me the strength and ammunition to fire at my enemies . . . punishing those I am upset with.
But God seldom does that – be careful what you wish for. When you ask for God to come and clean house you might be tempted to kick Him out as well . . . or worse.
As Easter week approaches, let us be sincere in granting God access to our hearts in a way that compromises our personal security. Allow Him to expose the things that need to be exposed. Grant Him access to the innermost places in your heart that you don’t want to change and let Him ruthlessly change you.
The friend you need to call and forgive.
The boss you need to confess to.
The spouse you have neglected.
The teacher you have shown disrespect.
The secret sin you need to share with someone and get free.
That is what Jesus is after.
Yes, it hurts . . . but if you let Him transform you from the inside out maybe then He can take His rightful place as King.