Summary: Religion is at war with Jesus and always has been and always will be. Religion is not necessarily faith. Religion is often the construct of human beings a system we develop and devise with all kinds of rules and teaching that are from men and not from God. This is what Jesus opposed.
We all love Palm Sunday when we can see Jesus welcomed as the hero of the nation. Mark’s Gospel shows us the Jesus we all love the victorious, humble Jesus on a donkey being praised with shouts of Hosanna, Blessed is he who comes in the name of our Lord, Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David, - Hosanna in the highest
But Luke’s Gospel tells us…. before he enters the city Jesus weeps over it. He knows that his welcome will be short lived and it breaks his heart when He thinks of how they are missing the point of his arrival.
Palm branches waving, children running and crowds gathering laying their cloaks on the road like a red carpet. Jesus was a celebrity – The Miracle Man – Walking on Water – Feeding Five Thousand – Healing Ten Lepers at once and - Raising the Dead. People of every persuasion wanted to see him – Jews, Romans – Foreigners the city was buzzing with excitement as Jesus arrived.
The place was packed with worshipers who had come not for Jesus but for the Passover feast. Seeing this Jesus, this wandering Preacher and healer was a bonus.
A lot of people are curious about Jesus many have heard good things and just wanted to get a glimpse of him to satisfy their curiosity.
But friend Jesus is more than a curiosity to be glimpsed at once a year.
He is the Messiah – the Son of God – the Lord of Lords and King of Kings and he is the Saviour of the world.
We need to get more than just a glimpse of him from our place in the crowd.
The first thing Jesus did when he got to Jerusalem was to go the Temple. He was not pleased with what he saw. They had turned the Temple into a market instead of a place of worship.
Have you been to churches like that? I have seen church bulletins that were full of advertisements. I mean commercial advertisements and they are charged by the church to run their ads. But the church claims it is a donation and not a fee for advertising.
Well that kind of thinking does not go over with Jesus. Church is a place where we connect to God and one another on a spiritual level not a place for us to network our business.
Jesus turned the tables upside down and chased the merchants out with a whip he had fashioned out of cord. Jesus can sometimes make a real entrance cant he?
Jesus goes back the next day and for several days after that and he demonstrates how the Temple is to be used by teaching and preaching openly to anyone who will listen to him. But the religious leaders want him dead.
Why? – Did they lose their rent money for all the booths they let folks set up to sell stuff?
Did Jesus embarrass them by showing them the right way to use God’s house?
Was Jesus teaching somehow more sincere and earnest and relatable?
The answer is most likely yes to all these things. Religion is at war with Jesus and always has been and always will be. Religion is not necessarily faith. Religion is often the construct of human beings a system we develop and devise with all kinds of rules and teaching that are from men and not from God. This is what Jesus opposed.
Later that week Jesus held the Last Supper in the upper room on a Thursday night. At this Last Supper Jesus broke the bread and poured the wine explaining the New Covenant - the New Promise Relationship between God and Man that would be accomplished by His sacrifice. He also broke the news to his Disciples that he would die and that he would be betrayed by someone at the table with him.
Judas did not get the things out of Jesus that he had hoped for so he sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
You know a lot of people today do the same thing. When they don’t get what they want out of church or out of Jesus they sell out to the world instead. Some for a lot less than 30 pieces of silver.
John’s Gospel tells us that latter that night Jesus and his 11 followers went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. It was an olive grove – and Jesus made reference to how we are the branches and that he is the true vine and that God does the pruning and cuts off every unfruitful branch so that the more fruitful branches can grow even more.
Jesus had asked his three closest friends to pray with him and keep a look out. They fell asleep but Jesus kept on praying for them and for you and me.