Theme: Jesus as King
This week’s lesson raises and answers the question, “Is Jesus really God and King?”
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting,“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
The most important life ever lived was that of Jesus Christ, and the most important part of that life was the momentous week that ended it. The week began with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday. It included his second cleansing of the temple, his final teaching, his arrest, trial and crucifixion, and it ended with his resurrection from the dead on What we call Easter Sunday. Eight momentous days in all.
This final week is so important that the gospels give a disproportionate amount of space to it. Jesus lived thirty-three years. His active ministry occupied three years. But large portions of the gospels are given over to the events of just the last eight days. Matthew devotes one-fourth of his gospel to it (chapters 21-28). Mark uses one-third of his gospel (chapters 11-16). Luke gives a fifth of his chapters to the events of this last week (chapters 19:28-24). Most remarkable of all, John gives one-half (chapters 12-21). Taken together there are eighty-nine chapters in the gospels, but twenty-nine and one-half of these (exactly one-third) recount what happened between the triumphal entry and Jesus’ resurrection.
The reason is that these are the climactic events not only of Jesus’ life but of all history. They were planned from before the foundation of the world, and our salvation from sin and wrath depends on them.
It is not just the gospels which emphasize these events either. We can think of the one verse summary of Christianity that Paul gives at the end of Romans 4: “who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” (v. 25). Better yet, the outline Paul provides near the start of 1 Corinthians 15: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born,he appeared also to me.” (vv. 3-8).
This is also the outline that was followed by the early preachers of the gospel, whose sermons are preserved in the book of Acts: “Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose again. And we are witnesses of these things.”
Why are large. portions of the gospels dedicated to the week after Jesus‘ entry into Jerusalem?
Where else in the New Testament are the final days of Christ’s life emphasized?
What, according to Matthew, did Jesus’ entry symbolize?
The most important life ever lived was that of Jesus Christ, and the most important part of his life was the momentous week that ended it.