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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

A City Stirred Up
Date Posted: August 16, 2015

There is a story told of a missionary and his wife who finally retired.

They happened to be on the same airplane as a famous sports star. The sports star got off the plane first. Many people cheered him as he strode into the crowd. They were patting his back, congratulating him on his perfect game won, and clapping in exuberance. The band played. The mayor gave a speech. People lifted him up on their shoulders, and carried him to get his baggage.

The missionary and his wife carried their own baggage. Hailed a cab. Paid their own cab fare, and carried their own bags up the steps to their apartment.

After putting their things away, and settling down, the missionary finally stomped into the living room and said, “Honey, after all the work we’ve done, after all the sacrifices we made, after all the hardships we’ve endured, you’d think that we would have at least had some kind of fanfare on our last trip home. We worked harder, longer, and endured more than that pipsqueak sports hero, don’t you know.”

His wife smiled sweetly, and gazed into the distance. “Yes, dear, that is true, but we have not gone home, yet.”

Isaiah describes the King:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. (Isaiah 6:1)

Matthew describes something so very different. Jesus is not on a throne. His robe is homespun, probably very loosely woven and a light brown color. He is on the lowly, humble donkey colt rather than a prancing horse.

The accolade bestowed on Jesus that day He entered Jerusalem was certainly exuberant. But still, there were no trumpets or bands, no speeches, no chariots holding heads of state, just a bunch of poor people hoping for a better tomorrow. Do you think Jesus was saddened by what was in their hearts? What do you imagine prompted all this pomp and circumstance? What flowed over Jesus that day was impulsive and impromptu from the crowd. But God had prepared beforehand many things.

At the Mount of Olives, Jesus told His disciples to go fetch the donkey and her colt. The message, “The Lord needs them,” was the password to release them from their owner. Donkeys were lowly transportation, very humble transportation not meant for war, but for judgment. Judges 5:10 and Judges 12:14 describe this custom of Israel’s judges to ride upon donkeys, not to conquer but to judge. This is not only Jesus the prophet, but Jesus the Judge who enters Jerusalem.

The donkey didn’t even belong to Jesus but to someone else. One might think that since Jesus traveled so much that He would have acquired a donkey at some point. But for our sakes He was poor. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 8:9 that it was for our sakes so that by His poverty we might become rich. That is a hard saying to understand. He was rich while in Heaven, but became poor for us. He lived a life of poverty, and died in poverty. He did this as an example that no matter our circumstances, God provides all our necessities. He showed us that believers are rich in God’s love, rich in blessings and promises and God’s strong arm. We are rich in eternal life and heirs of the Kingdom of God. There is much power in this that belongs to us.

Jesus, omniscient and divine, knew where the donkey and colt were tied up. He knew the owner had been prepared to loan them to the Lord. How fascinating! Did God send an angel to this unnamed owner as He did to Joseph? Did God speak to him as He did to Abraham? Or did He use a prophet to prepare the way? Whatever means God used, Jesus showed His position as Lord of all by first sending His disciples with the task, and then the owner bowing to His wishes. We do not know if the man was a believer or not. We do not know if God bowed the man into obedience or if the donkeys were willingly loaned. Yet, we do know it happened because Christ rode into Jerusalem on the back of the colt that had never been ridden before.

The fact the donkey had not been broken to ride testifies to Christ’s dominion over all animals of the earth. It was tame to His touch, and bore Christ on his back for His triumphal entry.

Matthew is careful to tell us:

But all this happened that might be fulfilled that spoken by the prophet, saying: 5 "Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your King comes to you, meek and mounted on an ass, even a colt, the son of an ass." (Matthew 21:4) From: Isaiah 62:11; Zechariah 9:9

Jesus was careful to make sure all prophesies about Himself came true. Some would have us believe that these were self-fulfilling prophesies. I don’t see it this way. I think those who point out things Jesus did fulfilled prophesies spoken/written centuries before Jesus was born were telling the readers and listeners that God had it all planned out before it ever happened. They were using a verification process that would leave no doubt that God is Who He says He is, that He can do what He says He can do, and will do what He says He will do.

Jesus enters Jerusalem and the whole city is “stirred up.” Every one took notice of him. Let’s think about how the people noticed. Some were in complete awe crying out “Hosanna!”Some were probably inspired with the uniqueness of it. No plain, humble person had been greeted so boisterously with praises when entering the city. Others were moved to laughter at the spectacle of this humble person riding in on a donkey being bowed to and honored with a “red” carpet entry. Certainly the believers in Christ were overjoyed to see not only His entry, but also the tribute given Him. Assuredly envy and indignation burned in the hearts of the scribes and Pharisees.

If you think about it, this is how most of the people of earth see and receive Jesus.

He entered the city meek and mild. He rode directly to the Temple, not to the palace and any earthly King or dignitary would do. Thus, we have another illustration of Jesus’ kingdom being spiritual rather than earthly. He shows us what first things are: The holy things, and godly authority that guides these things.

He had previously driven out the moneychangers from the Temple. This was the second time. (John records the first time in John 2:4-5.) These abusers of God’s House had to be driven out again. The priests, scribes, and the whole of the Levites did not take the blatant hint that these things in God’s Temple were unholy. They had allowed things to go back to usual without fuss. Jesus did not take time to fashion a whip this time, but overturned the tables and the seats of those who sold pigeons accusing them of robbing the people.

These moneychangers would change the Roman coins for those of the Temple coins that were only accepted for the Temple tax. A half-shekel was required of each male to help defray the costs of Temple maintenance and pay the Levites’ living. But in the changing, the people had to pay an exchange fee. There never received the correct value for their coins. Since the tax was required, it was robbery.

I imagine that Jesus used His powerful voice to drive them out this time. That same voice put life back into the dead Lazarus, and called him out of the grave. That same voice could easily have called out every dead person in that tomb if He had not used Lazarus’ name. His wonderful power controlled the actions and reactions of those doing ungodly things in the Temple so that He cleared the holy places of the unholiness by Himself.

In fact, these two times that He cleaned up the Temple were the only two times in all of Scripture that Jesus used his majestic authority and coercive power. According to tradition, His face shone brightly and beams of light from His eyes pierced them. That holds with what we see in Proverbs.

A king who sits on the throne of judgment scatters away all evil with his eyes. Proverbs 20:8

The problem here is that sacredness had been perverted, and used as a cloak to cover iniquity. I do not believe that Jesus would have had such a problem with these sellers of sacrifices if they were not cheating the worshipers. He had a huge problem with the moneychangers because they were sticklers for Law rather than ministers to the people’s needs. They could have taken all tithes without making the people exchange coins. Money is money, so to speak. Therefore, having bake sales or country stores to raise money for various church activities is not sinful in God’s eyes. It is when people lie, cheat, and blatantly steal from their siblings in Christ that brings about chastisement from God Almighty.

The reason this is apparent to me is because Jesus turns right around and heals the sick and the lame right inside the Temple. This is the place for the work of God, and that is a very holy thing.

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Biography Information:
Gina Burgess has taught Sunday School and Discipleship Training for almost three decades. (Don't tell her that makes her old.) She earned her Master's in Communication in 2013.

She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.

If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection

Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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