Monday, April 27, 2020

A Blessing

24 The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord lift up his countenance[a] upon you and give you peace.

Severe Trials

In seasons of severe trial, the Christian has nothing on earth that he can trust to, and is therefore compelled to cast himself on his God alone. When his vessel is on its beam-ends, and no human deliverance can avail, he must simply and entirely trust himself to the providence and care of God. Happy storm that wrecks a man on such a rock as this! O blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone! - Charles Spurgeon

Sunday, April 26, 2020



This Psalm is specifically designated as a song. It is a song of praise to God for bringing rain that resulted in a bountiful harvest.

Praise For God’s Presence

The first thing the David says is that praise belongs to God. In fact, it is owed to him. David takes no credit. He gives no credit to Israel. He says praise belongs to God.

This is a good word for us. We should give God praise because he has provided so well for us. It is human nature to take credit for the good we have and blame God for the bad that happens. But, as believers, we should acknowledge that God gives us our blessings and we should praise him.

It may seem like an odd thing to say in the middle of a pandemic. But most of us in America are doing fine. We are restricted in activities, but we still have food, a place to live, and plenty of entertainment. While there are things that worry us, we can, if we will, look to our blessings and the gracious God who gives them to us.

When David writes “to you shall vows be performed”, he likely refers to sacrifices. People often vowed to offer sacrifices if God granted their requests. So, the proper response to God’s answering prayers was to praise him and offer any sacrifices promised.

We do not sacrifice animals as part of our worship any more. But I’m sure some of us have made promises to God that we would fulfill if he answered a prayer. That would be a similar thing.

One of my favorite movie scenes is in a movie called “The End” where Burt Reynolds is thrown overboard and swims to shore. He promises to give God 90% of what he has if he will save him. Then he reduces it to 50% as he gets closer. When he finally arrives, he says never mind God, he did it himself. It is a good example of how we think sometimes. You can see this scene on YouTube at

The praises were offered to God in Zion, according to verse 1. That is a reference to the temple in Jerusalem where God’s presence dwelled. David would have considered the best way to praise God would be to go the temple and offer his praise.

David referred to God as “you who hear prayer” and to whom all flesh come”. “Flesh” here means people. We take our requests to God and he hears us. He is the only one who answers prayer. Despite the fact that you hear people today saying they asked the Universe or put it out on the Universe, the Universe does not answer prayers. The Creator of the universe answers prayer.

In addition to answering prayers, God forgives sin. Even when our sins seem to overtake us, God forgives and provides atonement for sin. (3) In the Old Covenant, atonement was accomplished by the sacrifice of animals. In the New Covenant, Jesus accomplished atonement for us once and for all.

When we come to Christ, we receive atonement for our sins because of the life and death of Christ. Hebrews 10 explains this to us.

Those whose sins are atoned are those whom God has chosen and bought near, as verse 4 says. In David’s time, the children of Israel were chosen by God to be his people and were brought near to him. Deuteronomy 7:6 says “The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”

We, now as believers, are chosen ones. Ephesians 1:4 says “…he chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him”.

God’s chosen ones are brought near to him to dwell in his courts, to be in his presence. God did this physically with the Israelites. He brought them from Egypt to himself at the mountain. He said to them “I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself”. (Exodus 19:4)

The Jews were brought near to God. Everyone else, the Gentiles, were far off. All of here today are likely Gentiles. Before Christ, we were far off from God, but no longer. Ephesians 2:13 says “But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ”. We are the blessed ones whom God had chosen and brought near to dwell in his presence.

And his presence is enough. It is sufficient for life. David said “we shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple”. (4) There is no real satisfaction outside of Christ. Only Christ satisfies. Every thing else leads to disappointment.

Praise for God’s Awesome Deeds

In this stanza, David praises God for his deeds. He says the God who did all of these mighty deeds answers our prayers. He is the hope of all people.

The first mighty deed David recounts is that God established the mountains (6) The mountains were the largest and strongest physical objects David knew and God made them. In other words, God is the creator of the earth. It is the first thing we learn about God in the Bible: he created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1) That is a mighty deed. David praised God for it and so should we.

David also said God was sovereign over the seas. He could still them. Since the Jews saw the sea as a place of chaos and danger, this is a testimony to the power of God. Jesus demonstrated this to the disciples when they got caught in their boat in a storm. Jesus slept through most of it. I’m guessing that is because he had no need to worry about something he could control. When the disciples woke him up, he even asked them why they were afraid. Then he said “Peace! Be Still!” He stilled the sea. (Mark 4:35-41)

God also stills the people of the earth. He is sovereign over humanity and well as nature.  For example, he made King Nebuchadnezzar live like an animal until he recognized God’s sovereignty over him. (Daniel 4) Those are mighty deeds. They put us in awe of him.

God’s mighty deeds also make us shout for joy, David said. (8) Why would God’s mighty deeds make us joyful? Because we know that since God is powerful enough to create the earth and govern its natural forces and its people, he is powerful enough to take care of us. And he is powerful enough to accomplish his will.

God’s Provision

Specifically, this stanza is David’s praise for the gift of rain. The prayer of verse 2 was a prayer for rain. Since Israel has a desert climate, rain is precious and vital. If it rains at the right time and in the right amount, crops will be bountiful. If there is no rain, or insufficient rain, there are no crops. And there is not enough grass for the livestock to eat.

David gave God the credit for the rain. He said God visited the earth and watered it. (9) With that water, God provided grain for his people. God provided abundant water, resulting in a harvest of grain in abundance. This all resulted in shouts and songs of joy.

We had a drought here for about three years. In that last year, people prayed desperately for rain. Cities and towns were running out of water. The lakes were drying up. It was scary. Churches met and prayed for rain.

For the last few years, and especially lately, we have had an abundance of rain. The lake closest to me overflows its banks. The engineers at the dam release water into designated creeks. We have waterfalls. It has rained enough that some people are tired of it. I vowed never to complain about rain after the drought. We should thank God and praise him for giving us enough water. We take it for granted, but should not.

God has given us many blessings, especially here in the United States. We have an abundance of natural resources. Things have been so good here for generations that many people do not even know where food and fuel come from. They just assume they can find it and buy it at any time.

But God can take away blessings. Some think the current pandemic is a sign of that. I do not know. But, today is a great day to recognize the greatness of God, to joyfully praise him for it, and to repent of times we have ignored it or taken it for granted.

My God bless you this week and may you thank and praise him for it. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

A Prayer For Today

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us
not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.

Sunday, April 19, 2020



This psalm is another lament attributed to David. We do not know if there was a specific event that prompted David to write this.

This psalm is also meant to be sung, as it is directed to the choirmaster. So, we see it is a personal lament, but also meant for corporate worship.

David’s Plea

David asked God to hear his complaint. But he was not complaining about God, he is explaining his situation to him. His complaint is against his enemies.

There are those who complain about God. They often do this when something bad happens and they say “how could God allow this”? We are not studying that issue today, but if it is on your mind, I’ll direct you to the book of Job.

In this psalm, David once again asks God to deliver him as others seek his downfall. He asked God to preserve him and to hide him. One thing we see for the first time, though, is David asking God for help with his fear. He said “preserve my life from the dread of the enemy”, not just “preserve me from my enemy”.

God created us with the emotion of fear. It is a response to danger. Our bodies react with in such a way that we can run or fight better than we can normally.  We should be afraid of a ferocious beast and act to avoid being killed. Failure to have that fear leads to disaster. Exhibit A is the person who jumped into the tiger pen at the zoo and was killed. Evidently no one taught him that tigers were dangerous for humans or he thought there was a television screen between him and all dangers.

But fear is a strong emotion. It is often a negative motion. And it is one that seems to feed on itself. It can get the better of us, especially if we think about something over and over, letting our fear grow with each cycle. Fear then turns to dread. It becomes paralyzing. The danger grows in our minds out of proportion to reality. Soon, we can neither think nor act as we should.

We have all seen the movie where the bad thing comes and most people run, but one person freezes and looks at the thing in horror until it kills them.

David dreaded his enemy even though he knew God was bigger and stronger than his enemy. But he realized this and asked God to preserve his life from his dread.

This is a prayer that does not minimize the danger, but asks God to help David keep in in perspective. He believed God had the power to defeat his enemies and the desire to do it. But, at times, fear got the best of him and he needed help.

We have all been in that situation.

Description of the Enemies

These verses contain a long description of David’s enemies. They were wicked people who had secret plots against him. (2) Their words could wound. David said they were sharp and bitter, like swords or arrows.

The word “whet” in verse 3 in the English Standard Version, is an old word for “sharpen”. For example, my father gave me a knife when I was young,
 and he gave me a stone to sharpen it with. He called it a “whet stone”. The New International Version modernized the language to “sharpen”, which is appropriate.

Words can hurt and cause damage to a person’s feelings, their reputation, and their ability to get things done. These enemies shot their arrows from ambush at David and at God’s people. They did not confront David face to face, but talked to others. They were bold and unafraid when they operated from cover. They did not see themselves as accountable to anyone.

Intentional character assassination is the bearing of false witness, which the Bible labels as a sin. (Exodus 20:16) It is right there in the ten commandments, yet some people believe it is acceptable to do to put someone down and elevate themselves. This happens often in politics and business, and sometimes within the church body.

Gossip is possibly one step down from intentional character assassination. Gossip is usually defined as spreading rumors or repeating stories that you do not know to be true.  Gossip tends to grow in intensity, too, as it is passed from person to person. The story gets bigger and badder as it goes along. I have seen this happen in church so many times.

The Bible condemns gossip. Paul, in Romans 1, equates gossips with those who God gave up to debased minds, which is scary. (1:29) Gossip is harmful to the victim, but it is also harmful to the fellowship. It is literally a poison spreading through the body.

David knew that these evil doers could harm him without real swords or arrows. They could turn the people against him by telling lies in secret, calling his leadership into question. David’s enemies did this, refusing to come out in the open to criticize him, but continually working out their evil purpose. David asked God to protect him against this.

God Acts

When we ask God for help, he acts for our benefit and his glory. Here, David says God acts suddenly and uses the evil doers own words, or tongues, against them.

My father would have said they were hoisted on their own pitard. That phrase actually comes from Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet’. There is a play on words here, as David said God shoots his arrow at them, as they shot arrows at David. Evidently, God only needs one arrow to overthrow an evil person, where that person needed several arrows to accomplish their evil plans.

Their words come back to haunt them and all who see it recognize them for the liars and gossips they are. David said they “wag heir heads” at them. We still do that, don’t we? When we see someone get caught doing something bad, we shake our heads “no” and turn away in disgust.

So, God would act to Davis’s benefit as he had before. But, God also works to his own glory. Verse 9 says mankind fears God when this happens, they tell others what God has done, and they ponder it.

When God acts for our benefit and delivers us from something bad, we should be careful to give him the glory for it. We should not take credit and steal his glory for our own. That is an offense to God. In Isaiah 42:8, he said “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other…”.

We can, however, rejoice in what God has done. The last verse of this psalm shows us this. David said for the righteous to rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him. We rejoice when we see God conquer the enemy and our faith is built up so that we take refuge in him in times of trouble.

This applies to us individually, but also as the church. Remember, this psalm was designated for congregational worship. There are many in our time who malign Christianity, often saying things that are not true and ridiculing our beliefs. They do not give glory or thanks to God.

We can ask God to protect the church from these people. We should pray that he would open their eyes to the truth of the Gospel. But, failing that, that he would act to stop their evil purposes.

At this very time, the church, even in free countries, is being told by governments that it cannot meet as it believes it should. It may well be wise to do this while the Covid-19 virus is spreading.

But, Christians should be praying that this will end and that governments will not see this as a precedent for shutting down church meetings. We all know that one who assumes a power seldom gives it back.

May the Lord preserve us from our enemies and from the dread of them.

Friday, April 17, 2020

What Old Testament book is quoted the most in the New Testament?

The Most Quoted Book is: Psalms! It is quoted 68 times. 

Thursday, April 16, 2020

A Resurrection Prayer

O God our King, by the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ on the first day of the week, you conquered sin, put death to flight, and gave us the hope of everlasting life: Redeem all our days by this victory; forgive our sins, banish our fears, make us bold to praise you and to do your will; and steel us to wait for the consummation of your kingdom on the last great Day; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer

Sunday, April 12, 2020


JOHN 20:1-18

This passage is John’s account of the resurrection of Jesus. In it he gives us the facts and he shows us the faith journey of some of those who were involved in the story.

The first thing we see is that the story begins on the first day of the week, Sunday. Jesus was crucified on Friday, was in the tomb on Saturday, and rose on Sunday. That is why the church gathers on Sunday; it is recognition that the Lord was raised on that day. So, every Sunday is Resurrection Day for the church. We gather to worship a risen savior, to hear his word expounded, and to observe the Lord’s Supper, remembering his death until he returns. It would be silly to deny the resurrection while attending the observance of his resurrection every week.

John’s account of the discovery of the empty tomb focuses on Mary Magdalene. That does not make John’s account contradict the others which say several women went there. It just means he chose to focus on Mary, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Mary, along with several other women, had followed Jesus in his travels and supported him and the Twelve. She, at one time, had been possessed by demons and delivered from them by Jesus. (Luke 8:2; Mark 15:40-41) You can understand, then, why she believed in him and was intensely loyal to him.

There are other things that are said about Mary, but are not stated in Scripture. Some say she had been a prostitute. Others that she and Jesus had a romantic relationship. Neither of these are scenarios are in the Bible.

Mary had also stayed to watch Jesus crucified even though most of the disciples had fled. Mark 15:40 says she, Mary the mother of James the younger and Joses and Salome watched from a distance. She and Mary the mother of Joses followed Joseph of Arimathea and his helpers to the tomb where Jesus was laid, so she knew exactly where it was. (Mark 15:47)

Mary, as an observant Jew, would have returned home, or to someone’s home, after the crucifixion on Friday, to observe the Sabbath from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. Since it was too dark to do anything after sundown, she waited until Sunday morning to return to the tomb.

Mary must have spent a sleepless night waiting, for she got to the tomb before sunrise, while it was still dark. She had witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. You can imagine how hard that was to think about.

Mary probably also wanted to start her work the minute it was light enough to see. That work would have been adding the traditional spices to the wrappings on Jesus’ body, which had not been fully accomplished when Joseph buried Jesus in the tomb. Out of respect and reverence for him, she wanted him properly prepared as soon as possible.

When Mary arrived at the tomb, she was shocked to see that the stone had been taken away. This tomb would have been a large hole carved out of a limestone hill with a stone to close the entrance. Her reaction was not to believe Jesus had been raised, but that someone had taken his body away. This could have been done by the Roman or Jewish authorities to prevent claims of resurrection, or by someone who took it because the first tomb was only temporary, belonging to someone else. Either way, she was alarmed that his body was missing.

So Mary ran and found Simon Peter and John, brother of James and author of this gospel. He identified himself only as the “other disciple” and “the one Jesus loved”. (2) She told them “they” had taken Jesus’ body and she did not know where.

She actually said “we” do not know where they laid him, indicating that there were others with her at the tomb. This again shows there is no conflict in the accounts concerning which women were at the tomb.

Peter and John then took off toward the tomb running. (3) John got there first, but did not go in. He looked in and saw the linen cloths, the burial cloths, lying there.  Peter caught up, and being the bold one, went in. John followed him in. They saw the linen cloths lying undisturbed and the face cloth lying separately and folded or rolled up. If the body had been taken, you would expect the cloths to have been taken with the body, but these were not. Yet, the body was gone.

There is a story that goes around at Easter that the face scarf was folded as a symbol, saying that when a Jewish person was eating, he put the napkin on the table unfolded if he was finished, but folded if he was coming back to the table. So, by folding the napkin, it signified that Jesus would return. But, there is no evidence of this in either Scripture or other writing, so it is likely untrue.

Verse 8 says John saw and believed because as yet they did not understand the Scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. I think this is saying John did not believe Jesus was raised, or understand that he would be, until he saw the empty grave clothes. Peter “marveled at these things” but it does not say he believed. (Luke 24:12)

Peter did come to believe and to preach the resurrection. Once the Holy Spirit opened his mind to the Scripture, he applied Psalm 16:9-10 as fulfilled in the resurrection. That Psalm says:

Therefore my heart is glad, and my  whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
for you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.

Peter’s sermon is recorded in Acts 2:25. Paul later preached the resurrection using that same verse. His sermon is recorded in Acts 13.

After the disciples returned home, the focus of the story returned to Mary. She remained at the tomb and stood there weeping. (11) She did not yet believe or understand resurrection. She believed Jesus’ body had been stolen and desecrated and that she could not tend to it as she planned. But, in her devotion to Jesus, she was reluctant to leave the last place she knew he had been.

Mary took one last look into the tomb as we often do when leaving a sad place. But this time two angels were there in the tomb. They sat on the shelf that the body had been on, one at the head and one at the foot of the cloths. There may be some reference here to the cherubim that were constructed on either side of the mercy seat on top of the ark of the covenant. It was the place where the presence of God dwelled in the tabernacle and accepted the sacrifices for sin.

The angels asked Mary why she was weeping. (13) We often treat this as a rhetorical question, but they may have been genuinely perplexed. They knew Jesus had risen. That should be the cause for joy, yet this woman was grieving instead. This shows us that angels cannot read our minds.

Mary told them it was because the body of her Lord had been taken and she did not know where. She still did not understand or believe that Jesus had risen.

I think it is interesting that she did not ask them “why are you here?”. That would have been my first question. Instead, she turned to go.

As she turned, she saw Jesus, but did not recognize him. She thought he was the gardener. (15), meaning the one who took care of the garden where the tomb was.

Why did she not recognize him? There is much speculation about this. No reason is given in the text. It could be that she thought him dead and so did not think it could be him. It could be her eyes were blurry with tears or that it was still dark. One of these would be the simple explanations.

It could be that the Lord in his glorified body was not recognizable to her. Yet, she later clearly does recognize him. Finally, it could be that the Lord in his power kept her from recognizing him, as he did the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. (Like 24:16) But there the text says that is the reason.

But when Jesus spoke her name, Mary recognized him immediately. Maybe he always said it the same way. Maybe she simply recognized his voice. Whatever the reason, she responded to him by calling him Rabboni, a form of the Aramaic word Rabbi, meaning teacher. It was probably how she had always addressed him and was a term of respect.

Mary must have fallen to the ground and grabbed Jesus’ feet, for he told her not to cling to him. The reason he gave was that he had not yet ascended to the Father. (17) There is much speculation about the reason he said this, but again I think a simple explanation fits. Jesus was saying you do not need to cling to me because I am not ascending yet. I’m not leaving now.

Jesus wanted her to to go and tell the disciples to meet him. She did and said she had seen the Lord.

So, what can we take away from this story?

First of all, John presented these events as fact. He did not use mythological or metaphorical language. He simply stated facts.

In fact, all of the gospel writers say Jesus was raised. John was one of the first witnesses. Matthew, as an apostle, would have been present at one of Jesus’ appearances. We believe Mark wrote Peter’ account of the story, which would make it a first hand account. Peter preached that he was raised. Paul saw the risen Jesus and said Jesus was raised.

It is a fundamental fact of the Christian faith. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15, says the resurrection is part of the gospel. It is, therefore, something that must be believed for us to be saved.

Although the old hymn says basically that we know that Jesus lives because he lives within our hearts, we have much more than that. We have witnesses recounting the events they witnessed.

There are many that acknowledge that Jesus lived and died, but deny he was raised. Yet, we have four accounts of his resurrection, including multiple appearances to many people. There are no accounts of people finding his dead body.

Some say Jesus swooned and recovered in the tomb. There are no witnesses to this either. In addition, you would have to believe the Roman executioners, who crucified people all the time, did not recognize he was alive and breathing. You would also have to believe he could move the tomb stone from the inside of the tomb, sneak past the guards, and run off to hide.

Some also say the disciples stole the body and lied about seeing Jesus later. That would have been impossible with soldiers guarding the tomb. And, there is no way that all of the disciples would have kept the secret and gone to their deaths to defend it.

Another reason to deny the resurrection is to say it cannot happen because it never happens. But, part of the point is that it does not happen normally and it was a supernatural event, the Son of God in the power of God rising from death for our justification and as a sign of our own resurrection at the end of this age.

Second, believing that the resurrection is a fact puts us in position to understand its meaning. God raising Jesus from the dead vindicates him. It says the condemnation of the Jewish leaders and the Roman government was unjust. It says Jesus indeed was righteous. As 1 Timothy 3:16 says, he was vindicated by the Spirit, meaning his resurrection from the grave by the power of God expressed through the Holy Spirit. God suspended the power of death, declaring the ultimate consequence of sin was terminated. God annulled the sentence of condemnation.

As Jesus was raised, we will be raised. As Jesus was vindicated and declared righteous, we will be vindicated at our resurrection and declared righteous because of our identification with Christ. Romans 3:25 says Jesus was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Believing in Christ’s resurrection leads us to believe in our own. 1 Corinthians 15 says Christ was raised as the first fruits. This allusion to the Old Testament refers to offering the first grain, the first fruits, before the Lord in anticipation of a great harvest. Jesus was the first fruit of resurrection, to be followed by a great harvest from humanity through out history.

And that is cause for celebration.


Tuesday, April 07, 2020

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain.

Sunday, April 05, 2020



This week we will take a break from our study of Psalms to study Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. This is Palm Sunday, which commemorates that event and begins our focus on Easter Week. Today’s text is Matthew 21:1-17.

The context here is that Jesus was going to Jerusalem from Jericho and wanted to get there by the time for Passover. He had already told his disciples he would be crucified and would rise again, though they did not really understand it. (Matthew 20:17-19)

But before Jesus goes to the cross, he has things he wants to do to declare who he is. The first of these is his entry into Jerusalem.

The Triumphal Entry

Jesus sent two of his disciples into the village of Bethpage to obtain a donkey and her colt. Bethpage was a little village on the Mount of Olives close to Bethany, according to the church historian Eusebius. The Mount of Olives is east of the of Jerusalem. To get to Jerusalem on the road from Bethpage or Bethany, you would go down the mountain to the Kidron Valley, then back up to the eastern gate of the city.

Why would Jesus need the colt of a donkey? Matthew tells us. It was to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah recorded for us in Zechariah 9:9. The Jews considered this a Messianic prophecy. The prophecy was that the king, who would be the Messiah, would come to them mounted on the colt of a donkey.

The Jews were well versed in the Old Testament scripture. It was read every week in the synagogue and explained by scribes and rabbis. Jesus knew they would recognize the prophesy and he set out to make the statement that he fulfilled the prophesy. That statement was: I am the promised king and messiah.

The donkey also was a humble beast. So, Jesus made a humble entry as Zechariah prophesied. Normally a king of this time would ride a white horse or arrive in a chariot pulled by white horses. But Jesus made the humble entry on a humble donkey. It was a statement also of the kind of Messiah he was: a humble savior.

Now, at Passover, there were huge crowds of people. Jews came from all over to celebrate Passover. The city would be full. Lots of people would camp outside the city because there were no more places to stay. And the crowds outside the city, likely containing some people who had experienced Jesus’ miracles and teaching, understood the symbolism and reacted to it accordingly.

First, the disciples put their cloaks on it for him to sit on. This befits a king who would not ride bareback on a donkey. The disciples were showing respect to Jesus and recognizing him as the messiah.

Then the crowds spread their cloaks on the road so that the donkey itself would not step on the ground. This has royal significance also. 2 Kings 9 records the events that occurred when Elisha the prophet anointed young Jehu as king. The people put their cloaks on the steps of the temple as Jehu walked to meet the prophet. So, these people knew what to do to prepare the way for a king, knowing the example from the Old Testament.

As Jesus rode past, the people in the crowd began to shout “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”. “Hosanna” was a term of praise or blessing.

They directed this praise to the “Son of David”. This term goes back to God’s covenant with David, to establish his throne and kingdom forever. You can read about that in 2 Samuel 7.

It was also considered Messianic, because any king of Israel would have to be from the line of David. That is why some who called out to Jesus for healing addressed him as “Son of David”. Again, the crowd is acknowledging Jesus as king and messiah. Jesus was showing them that the promised one had come and that the kingdom would be restored. (But, it would not be restored in the way most of the Jews thought it would.)

Finally, they shouted “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”. The significance of that shout is that it comes from Psalm 118:26, which was also considered messianic. The crowd praised Jesus as the one sent from God to save Israel.

Matthew tells us that Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem with a shouting crowed. stirred up the whole city. (10) Many had not heard Jesus and asked who he was.   The crowd identified him as the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee named Jesus. (11) Some take this is a denial of belief that Jesus was the messiah and king. But, the reaction of the crowd tells us otherwise. They treated him as royalty. This was just a way to tell someone who this royal person was.

Cleansing the Temple

Once in Jerusalem, Jesus went to the Temple. In doing so, he fulfilled Malachi 3:1, which says “and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.”

Jesus saw the Court of the Gentiles filled with money changers and those who sold pigeons. The money changers would, for a fee, change Roman money for Jewish money, which was the only money that could be used to pay the Temple tax. It was a franchise normally owned and run by the High Priest. It made him a lot of money.

Those who sold pigeons were providing a service in one sense. Pigeons could be offered as sacrifices by the poor who could not afford a bull or a lamb. It would have been difficult to carry a pigeon to Jerusalem from some town far off, so you could buy one there and, no doubt, at an increased price.

But the biggest problem for Jesus was the location. The vendors were set up in the court of the gentiles. It was the only place gentiles could go in the temple to worship and pray, and they were prevented from going there by the presence of the vendors.

So Jesus drove the vendors out to return the courts to their original and intended purpose. Isaiah 56:6-8 tells us what the purpose was. It says that the Lord will bring foreigners who join themselves to the Lord to the temple and make them joyful in his house of prayer. And so Jesus cited these verses, saying “my house shall be called a house of prayer”. He then added words from Jeremiah 7:11 where Jeremiah quotes the Lord as saying”has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes?”.

It was always the intention of the Lord to bring Gentiles to knowledge and worship of him. The Jews were to show the way. But, in their pride, the excluded Gentiles and hated them. Jesus restored the temple to the place where Gentiles could come and join themselves to the Lord until the time the Temple was no longer necessary.

After Jesus drove out the merchants, an interesting thing happened. The blind and lame began to flood into the temple seeking healing. (14) You can imagine how the Jewish leaders felt about this. They saw the blind and lame as sinners that should be avoided. But not Jesus.

I think the blind and lame came in response to Scripture. They heard that the Messianic King had come and was in the temple. And they knew that Isaiah 35, which spoke of the coming of the Lord, said “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mud sing for joy.” (Isaiah 35:5-6) And so they came to be healed.

In the midst of all the wonderful chaos, the children who had come to the temple began to shout “Hosanna to the Son of David”. (15) They were praising Jesus as the Messianic King, coming in fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures.

The scribes and chief priests saw all this. Matthew calls them the “wonderful things” Jesus did. Sadly, instead of joining in the praise of Jesus and joy at the coming of the Messiah, they were indignant. (15) Their business had been ruined, their beautiful temple soiled by the poor sick people. And to top it all off, children were walking around shouting praises.

In addition to having to put up with these dirty and sick people and children, the leaders were indignant at the very thought of what was being portrayed by all this. Surely, the messiah would come to them, the religious leaders, and not the these who were poor, dirty, sick and uneducated.

They huffed to Jesus “do you hear what they are saying?” as if Jesus should stop all this because it was not true. Instead he did the opposite. He again went to Scripture to say “out of the mouth of babes you have prepared praise”. This again was from Psalm 8, this time from verse 2.

If you read on in Matthew, you will see the indignant leaders progress to murderous rage. They did not see Jesus through the eyes of faith and welcome him as the crowds did. Instead, they saw him through the eyes of jealousy, seeing him as a threat to their leadership, power, and wealth.

Jesus did these things to show the Jews he was the promised king and messiah. God inspired the gospel writers to write the account so that we would know it, too. Sadly, many believers do not know their Old Testament well enough to see what these things mean. Fortunately, Matthew was inspired to show us many of them so we could all know.

If you read this passage, and those that follow, through the eyes of faith, you will see the Savior who came in love to bring salvation from sin to us. He did not come to bring the Jews salvation from the Romans, which was what many of them wanted.

Many of them, when they realized he was not the messiah they expected, joined the religious leaders in the process that lead to his crucifixion.

It is important for us to know the real Jesus. We only know who he is and what he is like from what the Bible says about him. This week is a good time to focus on him as we approach Easter, when we will celebrate his resurrection.

We are in a difficult time right now. It is natural to be stressed and depressed. But hope comes to us when we focus on Christ and look forward to the blessings he has for us.