Today is Palm Sunday in the Christian Calendar.
If we read Matthew 21: 1-11, it is a celebration of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, riding on an ass.
The entire Christian world remembers His triumphant entry, with the people singing, dancing, and strewing their clothing and palms on the ground for Him.
It is all a very powerful picture, of a King coming to save His people. Next to Easter, churches usually go it big on this day, with their parishioners singing, receiving and waving palms as well.
But I am thinking today that if we were to continue reading just a bit further, somethings that are much bigger than that “red carpet” procession are really the stories of that day. There are actually two things that occur which are worth mentioning, but are usually forgotten, or hardly ever mentioned in churches today.
The first is found in Matthew 21: 12-13, where it says “12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
Wow, this is a serious thing here! Jesus went into the temple and stopped all the financial dealings that were going on. As a matter of fact, the book of John actually details how Jesus made a scourge, or a whip out of cords, (like a Cat-o-nine-tails) and whipped them out! The temple of Jerusalem had turned into a sort of global financial center, with the buying and selling of religion, taking advantage of the rules and of human despair. Jesus put an end to it, pronto.
Yet if we look at so many of our churches today, they are no different. Many, if not most, have forgotten what their purpose is, and everything now is a financial commitment. No pay, no play. Many churches have put most of their income into bigger buildings, fancier pews, louder sound systems, and of course, fancier clothes for the clergy. How many times are we reminded that if we do not give to the “church”, that we are robbing God? You know – the usual Malachi text? But Christ’s direct action is probably why we seldom hear a sermon on “The Lashing.”
The next story is found right after, in Matthew 21: 14, “14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.”
Think about that one for a second or two. That does not sound like any big deal, after all Christ used to go around all over the place, healing people, right? Remember though, that before Jesus did this act, anyone who had a blemish (like the blind or the lame) were not allowed to enter into the temple.
This, by the way, was not God’s rule – the original rule was from Leviticus 21:16 which established the requirements of the Levitical priesthood – This rule was extended over time from applying just to the priests to EVERYONE who had a blemish. So the blind and the lame had to hang out around the entrances of the temple and beg for alms. But now here is the Christ, and He allows everyone to enter, even the blind and the lame. They come into the temple, probably for the first time in their lives, and are healed.
The message of Christ’s triumphant entrance is wonderful, and worthwhile talking about. But remember what else Jesus did on that day. He rode into the city. He kicked out those who were TRULY robbing God, and He brought in those in need of healing.
Think about this when you hold your palms, and welcome Christ truly into your life.
Hosea 6:6 “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.