JOHN:The Book of Heartfelt Belief
A Final Rejection
Jerry A. Collins
$105.32. I went over it again. Still the same $105.32. I quickly recalculated the figures on my bank statement but I could only shake my head as I subtracted $105.32 from the balance I thought I had had before balancing my checkbook. $105.32 I thought I had to pay a bill; to buy some clothing for our children; for a new book I wanted to read; an oil change and wash for the car; any number of needs but things are not always as they seem are they! Jesus is about to enter into Jerusalem in what has been called The Triumphal Entry but it is anything but a triumph. There is a fundamental misunderstanding from all participants that leads to their rejecting Christ not receiving Him. Three different groups with three different responses to Jesusí entrance into Jerusalem underscores Jesus rejection rather than reception! This is not a triumphant entry at all but rather a troubling one. Things are not always as they seem with Jesus either and the lesson for us is that we may well be rejecting Jesus (His Word, His example) in some way rather than welcoming Him even when we think we are receiving Him.
1. JESUS ENEMIES REJECT HIM BECAUSE THEY ARE THREATENED BY HIM 9-11, 19
Had it not been for the spectacular raising of Lazarus from the dead, Jesus might have received a very different reception in Jerusalem vs 9. These witnesses had returned to Jerusalem and apparently broadcasted this sensational news. Of course, underscoring this news was the presence of Lazarus himself as living proof. Hopes for Messiah were running high during this festive Passover celebration (12:1) especially in those difficult days of Roman rule. The city swelling in numbers during this yearly observance camping all around Jerusalem. The crowds have already been warned to report Jesus presence to the religious leaders (11:57). This is followed by the sinister plot to also murder Lazarus vs. 10. In their minds he is to blame for so many more turning from Judaism to follow Jesus. No scruples. No conscience. Jesus threatens their turf, title and territory; their positions and power. He must go for the peoples sake and Lazarus too---a completely innocent man guilty only of returning from the dead. One sin quickly and easily leads to another.
(NB) Christ can become our enemy when our pleasure seeking conflicts with His righteousness. James 4:1-12 commands us to not pursue friendship with the world because it puts us in conflict with God. James tells us that any place we pursue pleasure we will have quarrels. Whether from your church, marriage, families or car. None of these things will always be pleasurable to me and that is why we must not demand that they do that. If we do, James tells us, we may even demand that God do something to make these more pleasurable for me. But God will not participate in my pleasure ethic. In other words, He is not going to answer this kind of praying because God is not in the business of making our lives pleasurable. Thats pride. That me centered not God centered. Prayer will not help because God wonít give you what will cause quarrels. Since you are not focusing on the righteousness of God, seeking first His kingdom and righteousness, but your pleasure, then you have become a friend of the world and an enemy of God! God does not want you to have the pleasures from the association with the world but your ability to choose His righteousness. If Gods Word is a threat to what you perceive to be a pleasurable marriage, children, finances, health, happiness, you are in danger of rejecting Jesus by pursuing your pleasure rather than obeying God. (Just heard of another church conflict...2 ladies yelling in church parking lot about resignation of pastor; or Jesus wants me to be happy).
2. A WEAK FAITH MAY ENCOURAGE REJECTING CHRIST 16
The disciples, though close to Jesus and participants in His entrance into Jerusalem, did not understand these. They lacked the perspective of the Cross and the Resurrection. They did not even comprehend that Zechariahs prophecy (9:9) had been written about Him. We do know that they are eager for Jesusí to establish His kingdom, they want to participate in its administration. We also know they knew of dangers in Jerusalem and that they went knowing they may even die (Jn 11:16). It does not appear that the disciples expected the kind of response Jesus received from the crowds. Maybe they high-fived each other thinking that they finally have arrived. The kingdom is here and so are we! Appearances can be deceiving. Things are not always as they seem. The fact is, the disciples in spite of all Jesus had taught them and all of the signs pointing to what was really going on that day, missed it. It is not until the Holy Spirit makes these things clear to them will they grasp the meaning.
(NB) When our faith is weak, when we are not filled by the Holy Spirit, we can undermine the wisdom and guidance that Gods Word can give us and compromise our walk with God. We can miss what God is communicating to us even when we are as close to Jesus as the disciples were. Our proximity to Christ is no guarantee that we will stay true to Him. You can be close to Him but have a weak faith that sabotages your understanding of His will for your life, just like the disciples.
3. INSISTING JESUS DO WHAT HE HAS NOT PROMISED IS A FORM OF REJECTION 12-18
Jesus bold entrance got attention of everyone. Messianic expectations running high waving palm branches as symbols of victory and shouting hosannas meaning please save or save now and ascribing Him King. Though a moment of popular acclaim, sadly the crowd had little spiritual perception. Riding the young donkey symbol of peace. He was not riding a war-horse, carrying a sword, wearing a crown. Not the conquering King. This apparent reception is in reality a rejection and is destined to turn into one very shortly. From King to crucify!
(NB) Our error today is Triumphalism..our insistence that Jesus be now and do now what he has not promised or which is associated with His second coming not His first. The triumphant Jesus is one who overthrows disease, pain, hardship, suffering and brings prosperity, peace, and healing! One day he will but now our suffering Savior. Not take up your crown but your cross and follow me!