When it comes to reading about the life and ministry of Jesus, Matthew has always been my "go to" gospel. I'm not sure why, but I've always been more captured by it than the others. Lately, however, I am really coming to appreciate the other perspectives of Mark, Luke and John.
For example, Luke's account of the triumphal entry really struck me this week as I was preparing for this morning. Unlike the gospel of Matthew, Luke shows a real contrast in the emotions that were in play during this event. It is found in Luke 19: 28-44.
In vs. 37-38, all the people are shouting and praising and excited about Jesus riding into the city. Then in vs. 39, we see the anger of the Pharisees trying to shut the whole thing down. And then in vs. 41, we see Jesus weeping. It is a bit like going to the Santa Claus parade and old Saint Nick is there in his sleigh in tears.
He is crying because He knows that in 5 days, the shouts of "Hosanna!" will turn to "Crucify! Crucify!" The amazing thing is that he is not crying for the pain and rejection that he will endure, he is crying because of what the city's rejection of him will mean to them.
This is what he says. "Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not accept your opportunity for salvation."
After Easter, I am going to pick up where I left off last week talking about the fivefold ministries. But as we reflect on the events of the triumphal entry leading up to Easter, I want us to see how Jesus functioned in at least a couple of those ministries.
In what Jesus says in vs. 42-44 we see Jesus functioning in a prophetic role. He speaks about events that haven't yet happened but which would. Prophecy isn't only speaking about the future, but that is a part of it. Prophecy is simply being given a message from God and being faithful to deliver that message to the people. Sometimes the message is a warning about what might happen in the future if there isn't obedience or a change of heart.
When we see Jesus weeping over Jerusalem and really mourning over their missing their opportunity to find lasting peace, we see Jesus as a Pastor or Shepherd. We see his deep love for the people, his desire for them to be blessed and receive peace and salvation. And his sorrow for them in knowing that they will refuse Him.
It is the same Pastor's heart that we see in Luke 13:34 where we see Jesus saying. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God's messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me.
That is what a Pastor/Shepherd does. They gather people to them to protect them and care for them and provide for them. And we see this being evident throughout Jesus ministry because he really was the perfect fulfillment of a Pastor/Shepherd. He was the Good Shepherd.
In Jesus' time the Romans ran Jerusalem, but there was a certain amount of peace – the Pax Romana it was called. This basically meant that as long as no one got out of line, the brute force of Rome was not used. It was an uneasy peace – peace without freedom. But it was a certain peace.
While the Pharisees and other leaders stirred up the crowd against Jesus on Friday because of jealousy, they also did it to keep the peace with Rome. If the Romans thought that this Jesus was going to lead the Jewish people in a revolt against Rome, it could lead to a crack-down and they could lose the peace they had. That is one of the reasons that they tell Jesus to silence his disciples when they are shouting "Hosanna!" - What if the Romans hear?
Jesus cries because they are doing it again. This was not the first time in the history of Israel where they chose to trust in human power for peace rather than God's power. God is offering them true peace and they are rejecting it for the peace of a tyrant.
The peace that God is offering is not just a lack of war – "Shalom" is much deeper than that: it is "well-being" in every area of life.
How do you and I struggle to find shalom – peace, well-being or wholeness in every area of life - peace outside of God in our own personal lives? In our culture? Corporately?
A four-year-old and a six-year-old presented their mom with a houseplant. They had used their own money to buy it and she was thrilled. The older of them said with a sad face, "There was a bouquet at the flower shop that we wanted to give you. It was real pretty but it was too expensive. It had a ribbon on it that said 'Rest In Peace,' and we thought it would be just perfect since you are always asking for a little peace so that you can rest.
Jesus talked a lot about peace. It was a very important theme for Him. In fact, it was the main thing that he came to bring to the world. He came to bring peace in many forms.
1. Peace with God
Peace with God through the forgiveness of our sins. That is about what happens after we die but it makes a huge different in our lives in the here and now. We are created to be in communion with our creator, and when that intimate connection was broken, we lost our peace; our sense of well-being.
Our problem is that used to the lack of peace in our world and ignore the longing for something better. People who live in a war zone, sooner or later just get on with their lives. They learn to run between buildings, to not get rattled by the sound of gunfire, to live with constant threat of quick or slow death.
Jesus puts us back into right relationship with the Father – he gives us peace.
Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God's anger, just like everyone else.
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's grace that you have been saved!)
2. Inner Peace.
I think I saw this on a t-shirt somewhere.
"My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start.
So far today, I have finished 2 bags of chips and a chocolate cake.
I feel better already."
In Philippians 4: 4-7 says this. "Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."
It doesn't say that God will rescue us from all trouble, but he does promise us a peace that transcends all understanding while we go through those times. When God really wants to teach us about peace, he takes us out into the storm.
Peace is a fruit of the Spirit, and as we allow the Spirit to plant seeds in us, and as we are filled daily with the Spirit, and keep in step with Him, we are able to have that peace that passes all understanding.
So our friends can say to us "I just don't understand how you can have peace when so much is going on!
3. Peace with others
Through Jesus example of forgiveness, and our awareness of his forgiveness toward us, and through the power of the Spirit, we are able to practice forgiveness and live at peace with those around us. This is not an instant peace – but it is something that we work at, in partnership with God. We need to work at it especially within the church.
In Luke 14: 31-32, Jesus tells the people a parable. The parable is about counting the cost of being a disciple of Jesus. This is what Jesus said in the NIV version.
"Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple."
In the NIV version that I just read there, the phrase "Terms of peace" is the same phrase translated "the way to peace" in Luke 19:42.
Jesus is saying if you only knew the terms of peace that the king is offering. The terms on peace Jesus gives are found in 14:33 – give up everything.
Give up everything that you are relying on to give you peace – give it over to the King, and he will give you true peace.
Give over to him the ways that you try to create your own security. This doesn't mean that we stop locking our doors at night, or that we all quit our jobs tomorrow.
It means that we give these things and everything else that we rely on for peace, over to the king, and lean on him alone for our peace.