Monday, March 18, 2024

God on Their Terms

Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mark 11:9 NLT)

During His earthly ministry, Jesus seemed to do a lot of things under the radar, so to speak. On some occasions, when certain things were expected of Him by others, He said, “My time has not yet come” (John 2:4; 7:8 NLT). 

And what was the “time” that Jesus referred to? It was His betrayal, His death, and His resurrection.

But in Luke 19, we find Jesus doing something that definitely caught people’s attention. He decided to enter Jerusalem, on what would be His last arrival, in a way that would draw attention to Himself. That is because His time had come.

Jesus was playing His hand. He was doing something that would force the authorities to react. And He was arriving in a way that would be understood by both the Jews and the Romans. We pick up the story in verse 35: “So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for him to ride on. As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him” (verses 35–36 NLT).

Mark 11 adds this detail: “Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields” (verse 8 NLT).

At that time, when a conquering hero returned from a battle, he entered the city on the back of a donkey. To the Romans, Jesus was clearly declaring that He was a hero, a king.

To the Jews, Jesus was plainly saying that He was the Messiah. He was fulfilling prophecy. Zechariah 9:9 says, “Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—riding on a donkey’s colt” (NLT).

Add to this the fact that Jesus was a wanted man at this point. The Bible tells us that the chief priests and Pharisees gave the order that if anyone knew where Jesus was, they should report it so they could seize Him.

Therefore, Jesus was saying, in effect, “You want Me? Here I am. I am ready. My time has come.” This shows us that Jesus wasn’t a hapless victim; He was a victorious King with an objective to accomplish.

The people, seeing Him arrive, shouted and sang, “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!” (Luke 19:38 NLT).

The disciples’ hearts probably were leaping for joy as they took in the scene. But Jesus experienced great sadness on this day because the crowds largely were ignorant of His true role.

The people wanted a military Messiah who would accomplish their agenda. Meanwhile, Jesus was coming as a suffering Savior to accomplish God’s agenda.

In the same way, people today celebrate Christmas and Easter, but they neglect Him the rest of the year. They want Jesus in their lives—as long as He does what they want Him to do. Effectively, they want God on their own terms.

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