The Last Eight Days, Part 1
Palm Sunday, 10 Nisan
Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are
going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about
the Son of Man will be fulfilled.
He will be handed over to the
Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill
the third day he will rise again.” (Luke 18:31-33)
The time had come for the Lord to make His official
appearance in Jerusalem. Having
spent the bulk of His ministry in and around the Galilee, He now set His
sights on the Holy City for what He knew would be His final showdown with
the religious leaders. It was a
long walk and would require most of the day.
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter
of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah
As they came to the twin villages of Bethpage and
Bethany on the Eastern slope of the Mt. Of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples
ahead to fetch the donkey He knew would be waiting there, and as He crested
the Mt. Of Olives he saw the beautiful city spread before Him.
Large crowds were arriving for the Passover and many of them had
already heard that He had raised Lazarus from the grave. Surely this was the
long awaited Messiah. Some
spread their cloaks on the road while others cut palm branches and laid them
in front of Him as He rode down the western slope, across the Kidron valley,
and into the city. There were
large joyful crowds both in front of and behind Him spontaneously shouting
the portion of Psalm 118 that was reserved for the entrance of the
Messiah into the city.
“Hosanna! Blessed is
he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed
is the coming kingdom of our father David!
Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark
A contingent of the ever present Pharisees was there,
and some of them instructed Jesus to rebuke His followers. If Jesus was not
the Messiah, and they didn't think He was, the crowds were committing
“I tell you,” He replied, “If they keep quiet the
stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40)
It was 483 years from the day Persian King Artaxerxes
had issued the decree authorizing the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem after the 70
year Babylonian captivity (Nehemiah 2:1-10).
It was the day ordained in history for the Messiah King to officially
present Himself to Israel (Daniel 9:25), and instead of rebuking His
disciples He rebuked the Pharisees for not knowing this.
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept
over it and said, “If you, even you, had only
known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your
days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against
you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.
will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They
will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time
of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 19:41-44)
It was also the 10th day of Nisan, the day
when God commanded the Jews to select the Passover lamb.
Then for three days they were to carefully inspect it to make sure it
had no spot or blemish that would prevent it from being used in the Passover
celebration on the 14th.
Over the next three days Jesus would be subjected to the most intense
scrutiny of His ministry as the Jewish leadership tried to find some proof
Matthew and Luke take us right into their accounts of
the Temple clearing, leaving the impression
that it might have happened on on that first Palm Sunday.
But Mark makes it clear that when Jesus finally entered Jerusalem He
went to the Temple and looked around at everything, but since it was late He
took the disciples and went back to Bethany where they were staying (Mark
Clearing The Temple.
Monday 11 Nisan
In the morning Jesus left Bethany in the company of His
disciples. He was hungry and
seeing a fig tree went to pick some its fruit, but there was none. He cursed
the tree saying, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again” (Mark
11:14). Much has been made of this, the only negative miracle
Jesus ever performed. Some scholars see it as a prophecy that Israel would
soon wither and die, never again bearing fruit for the Kingdom. History has
given evidence supporting the validity of their interpretation.
Upon reaching Jerusalem, the Lord headed straight for
the Temple and when He got there He began driving out those who were buying
and selling, overturning the tables of the money changers.
He said to them, “It is written, My house will be called a house
of prayer (Isaiah 56:7), but you have turned it into a den of
robbers (Jere. 7:11).”
He was referring to the fact that the pilgrims who
traveled a great distance found it safer to buy animals for their sacrifices
in Jerusalem than try and bring them from home.
The priests would only accept Temple coinage in payment for these
animals and for offerings the people made.
Some say they charged exorbitant prices for the animals and also
maintained an unfavorable exchange rate for foreign currency.
Most likely, this is what prompted the Lord's accusation.
Word that Jesus was at the Temple spread quickly.
The blind and lame came to Him and He healed them.
The children who had also gathered around began shouting, “Hosanna to
the Son of David”, a Messianic reference.
The chief priests and teachers of the Law were indignant but Jesus
said, “Have you never read, 'From the lips of children and infants you
have ordained praise' (Psalm 8:2)?
Then He left the city and returned to Bethany. (Matt. 21:14-17)
A Long Day Of Teaching And Confrontation. Tuesday 12
The next morning Jesus set out early for the Temple.
After being challenged by the Pharisees again, He launched into a
series of parables. A parable
is a fictional story placed in an Earthly context that's designed to convey
a Heavenly truth. Every
character or event is symbolic of something else.
Understanding what they symbolize helps us discover the Heavenly
He began with the
parable of the 2 sons, one obedient and other not. One son said he
would obey then didn't. He
represents the Pharisees. The
other son said he would not obey but then did.
He represents the tax collectors and prostitutes.
Jesus said to the Pharisees, “I tell you the truth, the tax
collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.
For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not
believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after
you saw this, you did not repent and believe him” (Matt. 21:28-32).
Then came the Parable of the Tenants. It's about a
landowner (God) who rented his vineyard (His Land) to tenants (Israel). But
when harvest time came they refused to give him his share of the fruit (the
salvation of mankind). They
killed the servants he sent (prophets) and even killed his son (Jesus) in an
effort to keep everything for themselves.
Jesus asked them what they thought the landowner should do to them
when he returns. They said he should bring them to a wretched end and rent
his vineyard to other tenants who will give him his share.
Jesus agreed and said, “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of
God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its
The chief priests and Pharisees understood that Jesus
was talking about them (Matt. 21:33-46).
In the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, which came next,
Jesus spoke of the invited guests refusing to attend a banquet celebrating
the marriage of a king's son.
The banquet represents the
Kingdom, the King is God, His Son is Jesus, and the invited guests are
Israel. Enraged, the king sent
his army and burned their city (Jerusalem).
Then, as the time for the banquet approached he sent his servants to
collect anyone they could find to attend as his guests.
At the banquet the king found a guest who was not properly attired
and had him ejected. (Matt. 22:1-14)
Many Christians have misinterpreted this group of
guests as representing the Church.
But the Church is the bride, not a random group of last minute
guests. And the guest ejected
from the wedding is not a back sliding believer. Clothing is symbolic of
righteousness and our righteousness is by faith (Romans 3:21-22), not
by works. The last minute
guests are Tribulation Survivors, and the ejected guest is an unbeliever
trying to gain entrance to the Kingdom in his own righteousness, which is
At the time of the 2nd Coming Jesus will
gather all Tribulation survivors together.
Believers will be clothed in the righteousness of the Lord and
ushered into the Kingdom, while unbelievers will be escorted off the planet
to eternal punishment.
In an effort to trap Him, the Pharisees asked Him if it
was right to pay taxes to Caesar.
Responding with a question of His own, Jesus took a coin and asked
them whose portrait and inscription were on the coin.
When they said it was Caesar's Jesus said,
“Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's”.
They were amazed at His answers so they left Him and went away (Matt.
Then another group, Sadducees this time, asked Jesus
about marriage in the resurrection. Sadducees didn't believe in a
resurrection but told Jesus a story of a woman who sequentially married
seven brothers, each marriage
following the death of the preceding brother. It was an outlandish
exaggeration of the law of leverite marriage, which provided that the
brother of a deceased Israelite marry his brother's widow and have a child
with her to produce an heir for the dead brother's inheritance (Deut.
Jesus accused them of not knowing the Scriptures or the
power of God. In the
resurrection there will be no marriage.
Then He attacked their denial of the resurrection. He reminded them
that in the Book of Moses (the Torah) God called Himself the God of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob. “He is not the God of the dead but of the Living,”
He said. The people listening
were astonished at His answers (Matt.
Then they asked Him which of the commandments is the
most important. He replied,
quoting Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18. “Love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is
the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The first 4 commandments explain how we are to love the
Lord, and the last 6 tell us how to love one another. Together they
summarize all of God's word.
Then He asked the Pharisees a question.
“What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is
“The son of David,” they replied.
He said to them,
“How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he
“‘The LORD said to my
Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet”’
David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?”
No one could say a word in
reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.
His examination was complete.
They had found no fault in Him.
He was qualified to be the Passover Lamb.
Now It's My Turn
Having defended Himself against all their tricks and
traps, the Lord now went on the offensive with a scathing indictment of
their religious practices. It was pay back time for all the resistance
they'd shown, all the criticism they'd leveled at him.
He called them hypocrites and told the people to obey what they say
but not to do what they do. He
said all their actions are just for show to make themselves look pious and
important. Not only would they not enter the Kingdom, but they prevented
others from entering as well. He called them false teachers and blind
guides, saying they were obsessed with little things but neglected the more
important matters of the Law.
He said they were like white washed tombs, all clean on the outside but full
of dead men's bones and everything unclean. He called them snakes, a brood
of vipers (seed of the serpent) and held them responsible for the blood of
all the prophets their predecessors had killed (Matt. 23:1-36).
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,”
He cried, “You who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how
often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her
chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.
Look, your house is left to you desolate.
For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is
he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Matt. 23:37-39)
Then He left the Temple and walked out of the city. But
His day was not over. On the
way back to Bethany the Lord gave 4 of His disciples a critical lesson on
End Times prophecy. We'll pick
it up there next time. 03-24-12